Elizabeth “Bettina” Blake was the academic dean at UMN Morris from 1979 to 1995. In her time as dean, she helped bring the campus into a new era with a fresh appreciation for UMN Morris's role as a public liberal arts college and she promoted the school's national reputation as an exemplar of liberal learning. As the first woman to serve as Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Dean, Blake was committed to the advancement of women faculty and staff both on campus and within the academy.
Highlighting biographies of staff and faculty at the University of Minnesota Morris, this ongoing project began in the summer of 2019. The number of biographies and entries continues to grow as research at the archives continues.
Rodney Briggs was the first dean and provost at the University of Minnesota Morris. Hired in 1959 to serve as the superintendent of the West Central School of Agriculture, he successfully oversaw the phasing out of the agricultural school and the transition to a college program. A tireless worker and supporter of the college, Briggs threw himself into the twin tasks of recruiting students and hiring faculty and staff. Sporting his ever-present Stetson hat, Briggs was a fixture throughout the sixties at virtually every community event in the region.
Herbert Croom was one of the original staff members at UMN Morris. He was a teacher and principal at the West Central School of Agriculture and with the establishment of UMN Morris in 1960 he played an essential role in the transition of the campus from an agricultural high school to an undergraduate liberal arts institution. He was the Director of Student Services at the University of Minnesota Morris and the Director of Placement and Alumni at UMN Morris until his death in 1973.
George (Doc) Fosgate was an early faculty member in Speech and Theatre at UMN Morris and played a vital role in shaping theatre on campus. Besides teaching courses in theatre and stagecraft, he also wrote, directed and acted. During his more than thirty years at Morris, he stood out as a staunch advocate of UMN Morris athletics, played a leading role in the design of the HFA Building, and helped launch a successful summer theatre program.
Mariam “Mimi” Darce Frenier taught history at UMN Morris from 1973 to 2004. Her primary focus was East Asian history but she also pioneered the Women's Studies major and minor. She was known for her innovative teaching style and her diverse research and teaching interests. In 2003 in honor of her many contributions to Women's Studies, the campus established the Mimi Frenier Award for Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies majors.
Stephen (Steve) Granger was one of the most important administrators in the initial few decades of UMN Morris history. The first hire of Rodney Briggs, Granger went on to direct student counseling as well as serve as Briggs’ assistant under a number of different titles: Assistant to the Dean, Assistant Provost, and ultimately Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. As Briggs’ right hand man, Granger played a variety of different roles.
Donald William Gray was one of the original staff members at UMN Morris and was the college’s first librarian. His work helped to establish the library as a central part of UMN Morris’s liberal arts mission.
James (Jim) Gremmels was a long-time professor of English at the University of Minnesota Morris and was one of the 13 original faculty members. Gremmels arrived on campus in 1960, hired to both teach English and coach basketball. Although he formally stepped down as basketball coach after only four years, he continued in the classroom for 40 years, during which time he founded the Prairie Gate Press and garnered a reputation as an especially popular and innovative instructor.
Liselotte “Lisa” Gumpel was an Associate Professor of German from 1968-1997. When Gumpel was hired she was one of a handful of women faculty members at UMN Morris. In addition to teaching, Gumpel’s interest in language and linguistics informed her research endeavors. She published two books, was honored with awards, participated in conferences, and gave lectures around the world. Lisa enjoyed teaching and writing, and her students were motivated by her enthusiastic embrace of life and work.
Nathaniel Hart was among the early faculty at the University of Minnesota Morris, joining the English faculty in 1961, a year after the school was founded. Hart remained at UMN Morris until his retirement in 2001. In addition to teaching numerous courses within the English discipline he also served in many administrative capacities, including Chair of the Division of Humanities during the 1980s, a critical time of budget cuts and retrenchment.
John (Jack) Q. Imholte served as Provost and then Chancellor of UMN Morris from 1970 to 1990. Hired in 1960 to teach history and economics, Imholte was one of the original thirteen faculty members. He became assistant dean in 1967, and then three years later after Rodney Briggs stepped down, Imholte was named Provost. In 1985 after the provost title was renamed he assumed the role of chancellor. Under Imholte's watch the campus saw growth in enrollment and significant progress in the development of its physical plant.
David Johnson was the third chancellor of the University of Minnesota Morris. Popularly known by students as “Chancellor Dave” and renowned for his easy-going manner, Johnson was a fervent supporter of the liberal arts and a staunch advocate for UMN Morris.
Bruce Allen Nord was one of the founding faculty in 1960 at UMN Morris. He served as a Sociology and Anthropology professor and was actively involved in bringing an international focus to the curriculum and expanding study abroad opportunities for students.
James (Jim) Olson was one of the “Morris 13” and the first campus hire in chemistry. Originally hired in 1959 to teach at the West Central School of Agriculture, Olson went on to serve the UMN Morris for over 40 years and played a significant leadership role in the growth and development of the Division of Science and Mathematics. His record of division leadership is unsurpassed, and, in fact, Olson chaired the Science and Math Division for at least a few years in each of the first four decades of UMN Morris history.
William Peterfi was one of the early faculty at the University of Minnesota Morris, teaching at the institution from 1965-1991. A dissident and former political prisoner, Peterfi fled Hungary during the failed 1956 Revolution. His teaching and scholarship was international relations, foreign policy and comparative government. Peterfi was instrumental in the early development of the political science curriculum at UMN Morris, introducing new courses in international relations, foreign policy and comparative government.
Samuel Schuman served as Chancellor of UMN Morris from 1998 to 2006. Hired in 1995 to serve as Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Dean, he was named Interim Chancellor in 1998, a position that became permanent in 2000. A professor of English literature, Schuman specialized in the works of Shakespeare and Vladimir Nabokov.
William Donald Spring was a longtime English professor at UMN Morris and was one of the 13 original faculty members. Spring came to UMN Morris in 1960 as a lecturer in English and chair of the Division of Humanities. He played an especially important leadership role on campus; he founded the writing room, was a long-time chair of the Humanities Division and was a mainstay on many UMN Morris committees. Spring retired from UMN Morris in 1996.
Bill Stewart was the most prominent figure in the development of multicultural programming at the University of Minnesota Morris and played a vital role in recruiting students of color during the formative years of the campus. Much of the work in the construction and development of the Minority Student Program (MSP) was accomplished by Stewart, and he guided the program with a steady hand for over a thirty-year period.
Ralph Williams was one of the 13 original faculty members at UMN Morris. He was the campus’s first choral director and was responsible for creating the original band, orchestra, and choir for the campus. Besides founding the music groups on campus, Williams also composed the UMM Hymn and Fight Song. He retired in 1978.