Lakeland University names next president

Beth Borgen
Beth Borgen

Lakeland University has named its executive vice president Beth Borgen as the university’s next president.

Borgen will be Lakeland’s 18th president and the first woman to hold that position in its 158-year history. She will assume her role in spring 2021.

She succeeds David Black, who has led Lakeland since 2017 for his second stint as its president.

Borgen has been with Lakeland for 15 years, holding several leadership roles. She has been executive vice president since July 2018, managing Lakeland’s enrollment, Cooperative Education program, financial aid, fundraising and external relations and marketing efforts.

Previously, she was vice president of advancement, overseeing the university’s $12 million campaign to fund an overhaul of its Younger Family Campus Center, an outdoor turf athletic field and the launch of the co-op program. That campaign netted $3 million over its goal and finished ahead of schedule, the university said.

Borgen has also led Lakeland through the creation of its strategic plan, which is aimed at preparing the university for a drop off in student populations – a demographic trend many higher education institutions are bracing themselves for.

Lakeland has seen the largest incoming freshmen classes in its history over the past three falls, which it attributes to its co-op program.

“Change is constant, especially at a place like Lakeland,” Borgen said. “We are well positioned for the future thanks to our innovation, creative problem solving and collaboration, and I am prepared to make sure those strategies will continue to be part of our story.”

Lakeland is preparing to build two new residence halls, using $26 million of a $35.4 million low-interest loan it was awarded earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development division. The remaining $9.4 million will be used to refinance the university’s existing long-term debt.

The university is also exploring a potential development on 80 acres of farmland on its campus to create more job opportunities for students. Black has said options for the project could include developing a business park or an innovation center, or putting the land up for sale to gauge interest from other developers.

“We all look forward to finding new, innovative ways to serve our students,” Borgen said. We will continue to grow our Cooperative Education program and student-run business venture, and we will also expand our relationships with the technical college system and regional employers as we continue to position Lakeland as a school of choice.”

Black applauded the selection of Borgen as his successor.

“The Lakeland Community and Board of Trustees made a wise choice,” he said. “They clearly understand that this university is moving in a different, more positive direction than three-quarters of other private institutions. They understand Beth Borgen’s ideas and strategies is a major contributing reason. I am excited about the future of Lakeland.”

As a first-generation college graduate who went on to earn her master of administration from Lakeland in 2011, Borgen said she understands the challenges both first-generation college students and adult learners face. She recently successfully defended her dissertation, titled “Self-efficacy and retention among first-generation college students,” through the Doctorate of Business Administration program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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