She says she’s humbled by the entire experience, but eager to help grow and lead the U of M Crookston into a prosperous, impactful future
Surrounded by family – including a daughter who flew in by surprise from Switzerland – friends, past and current colleagues and several University of Minnesota Regents, Dr. Mary Holz-Clause was officially inaugurated as the U of M Crookston’s sixth chancellor at a well-attended ceremony Friday afternoon in Kiehle Auditorium.
Holz-Clause has actually been officially at the helm of the Crookston campus for around eight months, being hired last spring and starting in the summer to replace the retired/resigned Fred Wood. During a career that for the most part has been rooted in agriculture and education, Holz-Clause came to Crookston from Cal State Polytechnic (Cal Poly) University in Pomona, California, where she was a tenured professor as well as dean of the Huntley College of Agriculture. Prior to that, Holz-Clause had a stint at the University of Connecticut, but it is Iowa where, and Iowa State, where Holz-Clause was educated and spent the bulk of her career as an educator and higher education administrator.
Holz-Clause and her husband, Reg, own and operate a corn, soybean and cattle farm in central Iowa. The couple last year purchased a new home in Crookston’s northeast corner.
The U of M Crookston’s agricultural tradition, coupled with Holz-Clause’s education and extensive career background in agriculture and Extension, put farming in the spotlight for much of the ceremony, as those making remarks from the podium on stage repeatedly referenced the soil, growth, and the U of M’s land-grant tradition.
“On this day of my inauguration, I reflect upon the many people who have impacted my life,” Holz-Clause said. “…We thank you all, our new friends and colleagues, who have welcomed us into your community, and our family, lifelong friends, and colleagues who are joining us today. I want to offer special thanks to my parents, who are both deceased but are here in spirit. They left me a legacy value of appreciating hard work and honesty.”
Friday’s ceremony featured the UMC String Ensemble and the UMC Women’s Ensemble. The campus’ longest-tenured faculty member, Dan Svedarsky and his 49 years on campus, led the faculty processional while carrying the iconic “mace.” Greetings and congratulations were provided by Crookston Mayor Wayne Melbye, Northwest School of Agriculture alum Allan Dragseth, UMC alum Kari Torkelson, UMC staff members Leanne Butt and Kim Knutson, and UMC Crookston Student Association President Dalton Javner.
“You have gotten involved in our community right from the start, and we very much appreciate that,” Melbye said.
Other highlights from the podium on stage included remarks from Helen Holz Raikes, a Willa Cather professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, who also happens to be Holz-Clause’s older sister. Gerald Miller, professor and associate dean emeritus at Iowa State, a longtime friend, mentor and colleague of Holz-Clause, entitled his speech “Ten Things You May Not Have Known About Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause.” Most of the ten things were either directly or indirectly tied to Holz-Clause close ties to the land, soil and agriculture.
In keeping with a Holz-Clause family tradition of planting trees to denote special occasions and major life events, a red oak tree will be planted on the UMC Campus Mall near the Harris A. Peterson Gazebo to commemorate and celebrate her inauguration. Of course, the official planting will take place once the temperatures warm up and the snow melts.