By Jack Sorensen, Focus Editor
Pacific Lutheran University has a new face, a new future and a new family.
The doors of the Regency Room opened at 4:30 p.m. today after a high-profile meeting amongst the Board of Regents, the Presidential Search Committee and the council of vice presidents. The Mooring Mast quickly received word: Pacific Lutheran University had chosen a new president.
Incoming President Thomas W. Krise and his wife, Patty, join PLU from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where Krise currently serves as a professor of English and dean of the College of the Pacific.
Thomas W. Krise, incoming president of Pacific Lutheran University.
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The Mooring Mast was present at all three presidential finalist forums, but arranged a contract with the Presidential Search Committee agreeing to not publish identifying information out of respect for candidates’ privacy until a decision was reached. In exchange, The Mooring Mast was guaranteed preferred coverage for the hiring process.
PLU’s new first family returned to campus today after two weeks of anticipation while the PLU Presidential Search Committee deliberated on the three finalists. Krise last visited the university Feb. 9 for a public forum with students, faculty and staff.
Krise’s performance at the public forum distinguished him from the other two candidates — he left the podium and walked around the floor in front of the audience, taking questions and conversing with students, faculty and staff.
After initial tentativeness during the audience questions segment, Director of Multicultural Recruitment Melannie Cunningham questioned then-candidate Krise of his opinions on the value of diversity.
Krise echoed traditional PLU views in his answer, saying he recognized the importance of “bringing all the voices to the table” in order to improve the university. Without diversity, PLU “will not be successful,” Krise said.
Krise comes to PLU after serving as a professor and academic administrator at several institutions. His former positions and accolades include chair of the department of English at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, a board member of the World Affairs Council in Sacramento, Calif., and 20 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
He received his Bachelor of Science in history from the Air Force Academy, a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Chicago, according to a brief biography released during the February forums.
Krise’s military experience was reflected in the Feb. 9 forum when he told audiences he would like to see a greater relationship between PLU and nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord, though he did not specify changes or developments he hoped to bring to fruition.
Krise said February’s forum was the final selling point for PLU and confirmed his desires to become a part of the university.
“The process of the search revealed so much of the campus and the campus community,” Krise said. “People turned out in really substantial numbers and they were very much engaged in a way that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. That says a lot about a campus, that they’re so interested in the result.”
Approximately 120 students, faculty and staff attended Krise’s forum on Feb. 9.
Krise’s impression of the university, which he described as a feeling of “fitting in,” was echoed by members of the Presidential Search Committee Wednesday. When the committee’s decision was passed to the Board of Regents for a vote, it appeared the board felt the same way.
“I’m delighted,” Chair of the PLU Board of Regents Bruce Bjerke said of Krise’s appointment. “We ultimately concluded unanimously that Tom Krise has the skills, the background and the attributes that we were looking for to take the university forward.”
Bjerke said the board agreed Krise was the ideal candidate to follow outgoing President Loren Anderson’s long leadership of the university, becoming the 13th PLU president. He said he was so confident with the pending choice he invited the Krise family to campus for the final decision.
During his yet-to-be-seen presidency at PLU, Krise said he wants to ensure students of his intentions to maintain PLU’s mission as a “student-centered” university.
“I am student-centered and we will continue that,” Krise said.
“We will foster the student-centeredness, the people-centeredness as I like to say, because that’s really all we are,” he added.
Krise will begin his tenure as PLU president June 1, the day after current President Anderson ends his 20-year career at the university.