A Message from the President

John HoffmanBoozhoo! As I complete my first year as president, I can say I have experienced the seasons that make Bemidji a wonderful place to live, work and learn. This year, we have continued our commitment to advancing holistic student success and diversity, equity and inclusion. Together, these cornerstones create the foundation of the Bemidji story lived out by our students, alumni and friends.

In this issue of Bemidji State University magazine, you’ll read about emerging practices that signal a paradigm shift in the way this remarkable institution serves our region. Our cover story features Chrissy Downwind, newly elevated to the position of vice president for American Indian student success and campus diversity officer and her historic role as the first American Indian to hold a vice president-level position at one of Minnesota State’s seven state universities.

The cover of the Spring/Summer 2023 Bemidji State University MagazineShe will guide two vital initiatives at BSU: the Institute for Indigenous Education and Practice and our groundbreaking Nisidotaading program, named for an Ojibwe phrase that means “building mutual understanding.” These initiatives will establish BSU and Northwest Technical College as the state’s leaders in developing culturally relevant training and teaching materials, drawn from American Indian students’ cultures and ways of knowing, to help our students better understand each other. Through this work, our graduates will be further empowered to create a more equitable future for all.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this has been a challenging year. As a result of decreasing enrollment exacerbated by COVID-19, you’ve likely heard BSU has reduced our workforce this spring through early retirement incentives and a round of layoffs. Let me share with you what I shared with campus — I’m sorry. While I believe the decisions made this spring were the best among flawed options, it doesn’t change the harm for people who chose to work at BSU because of our students and our mission. I assure you that we are learning and building the foundation for a stronger BSU, a future that extends access and affordability to more students with the promise that BSU’s story of excellence and value will become their story, as well.

I invite you to reflect on your time in Bemidji. As I write this, the flowers are blooming, loons (my favorite) and other wildlife have returned and our beautiful campus shines as brightly as the waters that surround it. Whatever the season, I look forward to seeing you when you return home!

Dr. John Hoffman

John Hoffman signature

Read the Spring/Summer 2023 issue.