Winona State University officials looked outward to find the university’s new vice president of advancement.
Ernie Hughes, a 20-year veteran in the Southern University System in Louisiana, will step into the role in August, WSU announced Monday. The position serves as a primary connection to the larger community, particularly on development initiatives.
Hughes will replace Gary Evans, who has been serving in an interim role for a year since Jim Schmidt left to become chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Hughes was one of four finalists for the position who visited the Winona campus and community in mid-May. Two finalists had local ties, with Dennis Cooley from the University of Wisconsin system and Robert Giere with experience in development at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
In a release Monday, Hughes outlined “three Cs” he said are vital for cultivating innovation at modern universities.
“One of the keys for any university today is to show collaboration and to align curriculum to the needs of the community,” Hughes said in the release. “With projects like the Education Village, WSU is listening to what’s going on in the state of Minnesota and in the community of Winona, and I can’t wait to be part of that discussion.”
Hughes described WSU as a student-focused, community-responsive university and said he is excited to spend time getting to know the campus and community while helping to develop and instill strategic institutional vision and values. Along with leading the advancement office, Hughes will also be the director of the WSU Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the mission of WSU.
“(Hughes’) reputation for fostering collaboration and sustainable partnerships is well-suited to our mission in the advancement office and for the university at large,” said WSU president Scott Olson in a statement.