Taylor Grangaard / A&E Editor
Laurie Hamen will leave her role as vice president for enrollment management and athletics at North Central College (Ill.) to take on the role of president at Mount Mercy. She indicated that targeting new demographics of students and expanding academic and athletic programs may be at the top of her list of priorities in her new role.
Hamen to take office Feb. 3
Dr. Norm Nielsen, Mount Mercy University's interim president since June, predicted back in August that we could have a new, full-time president by January. It turns out he was pretty close in his estimation.
On Dec. 6, in front of dozens in attendance at the Chapel of Mercy Mount Mercy, the chairman of the board of trustees announced the selection of Laurie Hamen for president of the university. Hamen will officially take over for Nielsen on Feb. 3.
"Last May, I stood here in this beautiful chapel at a very tenuous and uncertain moment in the history of this great school," Brandt Worley, board of trustees chairman, said. "There were naturally many questions centered around the leadership transition. The board of trustees stepped it up in a very decisive fashion.
"I expressed on that day my belief that there were many blessing on their way to this great institution and for the Mount Mercy community, albeit I wasn't exactly sure as to how they were going to come."
Worley may have been right about the blessings coming to Mount Mercy. It is evident in the ambitious projects the university has recently undertaken, and is now evident in Hamen as the board of trustee's unanimous choice for president.
Hamen spoke to the crowd about how Mount Mercy seemed to be an ideal fit for her.
"A few weeks ago when I called a Mount Mercy alum, who's a friend of my future daughter-in-law, to get the inside scoop on (Mount Mercy), she said Mount Mercy is a university that is moving forward," Hamen said. "And I knew right then that this is where I wanted to be.
"What an honor it is. It's a tremendous honor to have been chosen as the next leader of Mount Mercy University. Thank you all."
The three finalists chosen by the presidential search committee concluded their visits to campus on Nov. 19.
Brandt Worley, chairman of the board of trustees, said the choice for the new president was difficult but ultimately the board unanimously chose Hamen in part because of the impact she made during her visit to campus.
"She won the job when she came to campus," Worley said. "She won the job primarily because of the way she demonstrated her passion for the small, private Catholic college, and the traditions of catholic colleges, and the understanding she has for the Sisters of Mercy."
Hamen is currently the vice president for enrollment management and athletics at North Central College (Ill.). She has also served as dean of students at St. Benedict (Minn.), associate dean of students at St. Mary's University (Minn.), director of activities at Mississippi State University and assistant complex director at Mankato State (Minn.).
She received her bachelor's degree from the University of St. Catherine (Minn.). Her master's in counselor education was granted by Winona State University (Minn.). Hamen also holds a juris doctorate from DePaul University's College of Law (Ill.).
During her meeting with students at the student session of her campus visit on Nov. 18, Hamen outlined her strategies for increasing enrollment, boosting fundraising and expanding academic programs.
Hamen indicated that targeting new demographics of students and expanding on academic and athletic programs that Mount Mercy already offers could be part of her overall strategy when she officially takes over the role of president of the university.
The timing of the board's announcement—just before the end of the fall semester—will give Hamen time to meet with top-level administrators, faculty and staff to discuss her plans for transition. Hamen said she would like to take advantage of the time before her scheduled Feb. 3 start date to meet with as many people as possible in order to start building relationships and planning for the beginning of the spring semester.
Hamen said she has no plans to bring in anyone to replace any current Mount Mercy faculty and staff.
"For me, it's all about building a team, and I think that there is a really talented team here," Hamen said. "I have no plans to bring anyone in. I plan to build and grow and develop the people that are here."
T.J. Kremer III / Editor-In-Chief
Brandt Worley, chairman of the board of trustees, introduces Hamen as the president-elect.