Dr. John Hoffman Remarks to Minnesota State Board of Trustees, March 16, 2022

Chair Cowles, Chancellor Maholtra and trustees – Thank you.

As it so happens, it was 20 years ago this morning I got down on a knee and proposed to my wife, Joy. I recall at the time feelings of nervousness and excitement, perhaps mostly a sense of awe that she would say “yes” and pick me. And 20 years later, I have similar feelings today as I think about the nervousness and excitement of the moment, that the community, the faculties of Bemidji State and Northwest Tech, the student affairs educators, the staff, the students, that they would pick me to serve and work for them. That you would would pick me.

Now, the choice for me is easy. What an amazing opportunity, like no other. Over my career, I’ve tried to craft a mission — a northern star, so to speak — of advancing holistic student success that is grounded in equity and inclusion.

I think about these institutions:

Northwest Tech, the work that they do with career-relevant programs that are immediately connected to the Bemidji community. It draws students from all across the state because they know the quality of work that is happening there in Bemidji.

Bemidji State University, a comprehensive, regional, liberal arts institution, where students might study disparate areas that one might not see connecting otherwise, that advances the citizenry of our state, and the work that they’re doing — and, of course, diversity, equity and inclusion.

What an opportunity. to be a part of institutions that are the cornerstone of work with Indigenous students, tribal nations and tribal colleges. I was fortunate, already, since the committee vote, to receive a text message from one of those tribal college presidents. I’m looking forward to this opportunity.

I have to say that when I graduated with what I believe was a world-class education, one of my first jobs was here in the Twin Cities. I was prepared in every sense — except for diversity, equity and inclusion. The vision moving forward, that will never happen within Minnesota State. It’s so exciting to see the vision of Equity 2030 guiding all of the work. It’s an honor to be a part of that work.

Thank yous that I need to extend: again President Hensrud, your graciousness, your work, positioning these institutions for the next chapter. The work that you’ve done, putting together teams, and specifically as vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, I’ve worked closely with Alan Bedford and Travis Greene these past years, they are amazing cornerstones of what is an exciting team of leadership in the area.

I’m thankful to my current chancellor, Chancellor Holz-Clause, the team faculty and student affairs, educators, staff, and students at the University of Minnesota Crookston. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, and I’m glad it’s just a couple hours down the road. The mentors along the way are too many to list, but family I have to acknowledge:

My father, Clarence Hoffman; businessmen, and spent 10 years on the Iowa legislature, taught me more on about the role of integrity in business than I could have ever learned in any classroom

My mother Lynn; preschool teacher, the most caring educator I know, creative to this day.

My wife, Joy, is a fierce student affairs educator and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion across the nation. She holds me to be the person I aspire to be. And then to my stepchildren — Hannah, who is a second Lieutenant in the Marines and preparing for her first assignment; C.J., they are a senior at the University of California Santa Cruz, preparing to be a science educator. They’ve taught me so much about life. That family and my chosen family are my greatest blessing but I am deeply on honored at the invitation that you have extended to be a part of your family in the years to come. Thank you.