An auspicious beginning
June 1, 2011, will forever be a day for many Minoters when asked years from now "Do you remember what you were doing when..." people will know. Older generations clearly remember personal events the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated; 30 and 40-somethings have painfully vivid memories of 9/11.
June 1 was the day of Minot's first evacuation, when two weeks later residents were prematurely allowed back into their homes, thinking the community had successfully dodged a bullet.
For Lenore Koczon, June 1 was the first day of her new job as Minot State University vice president for academic affairs. Instead of being introduced to staff and shown her new office, Koczon attended an operations meeting where emergency decisions surfaced hourly.
"I arrived at Minot State prepared to step into my role as VPAA and get a head start on the fall semester," Koczon said. "Fortunately, I also became really good at planning emergency operations."
An academic dean for the undergraduate college at Rosemont College (Pa.) since 2005, Koczon was instrumental in reviving the Honors Program and establishing a student leadership program involving both student and academic affairs.
"I like the idea of service learning classes because I believe this is a way to truly connect the campus to the community and to accomplish something that even in a small way does benefit the community," Koczon said. "I also believe that through these efforts academic affairs and student affairs developed a strong working relationship, which is important for student success."
Moving to North Dakota wasn't such a stretch for the Detroit native and Notre Dame and UNL graduate. Prior to living in Pennsylvania, Koczon spent 15 years as a faculty member at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S. D.
"Minot is like Aberdeen in many ways," Koczon said. "And MSU has changed a lot; there's energy in this community and on campus that focuses on moving forward. My hope is to continue the change and move the academic side (of MSU) in that dynamic, positive direction."
Minot impressed even her husband Jay Weintraub.
"During the first evacuation, Jay was amazed at how orderly things were and how everyone was helping one another," Koczon said. "In Philadelphia, the attitude would be ‘it's not my problem'."
"As a businessman in a new community, Jay is hoping to get involved and looking forward to helping rebuild Minot," Koczon added.
Moving forward, Koczon will focus on university retention rates and student success, which she says is "near and dear to her heart." Koczon brings to the table different experiences and viewpoints from public and private institutions around the nation. She is aware of the challenges and best practices of both and offers a fresh perspective.
"My goal is to make it easier for people to get their jobs done and just make it happen," Koczon says. "I fully intend to be a part of Vision 2020."