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Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Rochester campus chancellor sworn in

Stephen Lehmkuhle is the first chancellor of the health-science-focused campus.

A year ago, Stephen Lehmkuhle didn’t think a 400-student campus in a shopping mall with no degree programs could lure him away from an administrative spot overseeing 60,000 students.

When approached by a search firm looking for the first chancellor of the University’s Rochester campus, he recalled ending the phone call with little interest and a polite “thanks.”

But over the next month, Lehmkuhle changed his mind. He was sworn in as the head of the University of Minnesota-Rochester on Friday at a ceremony held at Rochester’s Mayo Clinic.

“I have to be honest, the shopping mall concept for a university still didn’t grab me,” he said, referring to a past visit to the city. “But, I was very impressed by the community.”

Lehmkuhle’s wife, two children and mother attended, along with University President Bob Bruininks, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, and Washington State University President Elson Floyd.

“Discussions about a University campus in Rochester have been occurring for roughly 40 years now,” Bruininks said Monday in an e-mail. “Establishing this campus and inducting the very first chancellor are huge reasons to celebrate.”

Bruininks appointed Lehmkuhle as chancellor last August.

The chancellor, who has an academic background in psychology, previously served as the senior vice president for academic affairs in the University of Missouri System.

Board of Regents chairwoman Patricia Simmons, also a pediatrician and professor at the Mayo Clinic, was one of several regents on hand at the ceremony.

The health-science-focused Rochester campus will rely on several partnerships, including ones with the other University campuses, the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and IBM, she said.

“We know that money is tight for higher education in Minnesota,” she said Monday. “That’s why he’s looking at leveraging these assets we already have in place.”

The nonresidential Rochester campus started offering classes in fall 2007. The school offers more than 35 academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

Lehmkuhle said he’s adjusting to his new workplace.

“Yes, I am now fond of being in a shopping mall,” Lehmkuhle said. “Not because it has a Barnes & Noble and Starbucks downstairs, but because of its proximity, and connection – literally – with our partners.”

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