With one of Winona State University’s most veteran administrators leaving, the university looked to the past to ensure a smooth transition.

Former HBC CEO Gary Evans will temporarily take over as vice president for university advancement after Jim Schmidt leaves at the end of June to become chancellor at UW-Eau Claire.

It’s an easy fit, given Evans’ familiarity with WSU — he served as the vice president for university relations from 1987 to 1998.

“I think it was a fantastic choice,” Schmidt said. “It makes it a very good transition for me to know Gary knows the community as well as he does along with his background with the Legislature. He has really walked in these shoes.”

Evans never thought he would come back, he said, particularly after he announced his retirement from Hiawatha Broadband Communications less than a year ago. He said he’s both excited and terrified at the prospect, and is already preparing for the transition.

“It was one of those very difficult kinds of decisions,” Evans said. “Here I am finally retired, and now I see life coming full circle.”

President Scott Olson has also appointed WSU’s dean of students Karen Johnson as interim associate vice president for student life and development, and Barbara Oertel as interim associate vice president for enrollment services, to fill the absence created by vice president for student life and development Connie Gores leaving to become president of Southwest Minnesota State University.

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