Department Changes Heading into the New Year

Leadership changes are happening at Minnesota State Mankato. Our long-time serving Vice President for Finance and Administration, Rick Straka, is retiring in February 2024. Rick has been a tremendous champion of the student experience and Student Affairs. From new construction to creating new student scholarships, Rick has built a foundation that will serve the university for decades. Dr. Lynn Akey, who started her career at Minnesota State Mankato in Student Affairs and was serving as our Vice President for Student Success, Analytics, and Integrated Planning is becoming the new Chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Lynn was also a great champion of the student experience and wonderful partner for Student Affairs. Our Director of Residential Life, Cindy Janney, is retiring in January 2024 after a tremendous career in Student Affairs. Under her leadership two new residence halls, an off-campus apartment complex, a new dining hall, and millions in renovations have kept our campus beautiful and serving the needs of our students. Searches are underway to fill these positions, so watch for announcements of the new leaders this spring. 

With all of these leadership changes, some reporting lines are changing as well. President Inch is focused on the university achieving our new strategic plan ( and has made structural changes to ensure our success. Beginning in December 2023, the Office of Registration and Academic Records now reports to me as the Vice President. In February 2024, the Office of Financial Aid will also report to the Division of Student Affairs. Later this summer, the Office of University Scheduling and Conference Services will report to the Division as we attempt to grow our summer camps and conferences activity. To assist with supervising these changes, we are creating a new Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management. This new leadership role will report to me and supervise University Admissions, Financial Aid, and the Office of New Student & Family Programs. A search will be conducted to fill this position in spring 2024. Finally, the great work of the Career Development Center will be reassigned in 2024 to the new Vice President for Student Success and Engagement. This provides a heightened presence of their work and how we can connect students and employers through a central effort at the university. The Career Development Center will be missed, but we look forward to seeing them achieve new heights.  

As these changes are occurring, there is one other change we are making as a division. Since I arrived at Minnesota State Mankato, I have been the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management while the division has been titled Student Affairs. Beginning immediately, we will be the Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. This better reflects the scope and focus of our work. 

Thank you for all of your support in 2023. Whether through your direct giving of scholarships and emergency grant support to your willingness to share your ideas and passions to help our students, we appreciate all you do for Minnesota State Mankato. At this time of celebration and reflection, I invite you to include a visit to our campus in 2024. I would like to hear more about your ideas to support the university, as well as share the latest news and changes. Until then, I wish you and yours the best this holiday season.


Yours in Maverick Spirit,

David P. Jones, Ph.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management


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