Northern welcomes new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

ABERDEEN, S.D. (Press Release) – Northern State University’s new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is looking forward to getting to know the campus community, working on academic program development and advocating for experiential learning.


Dr. Michael Wanous started last week at Northern and said his first goals include meeting people, learning how processes work and also learning more about the regental system.

“I’m looking forward to meeting everybody, getting to know more about Northern and understanding how things work here,” Wanous said. “I’ve been really impressed with the dedication of the faculty and the staff.”

Wanous previously served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Indiana’s Huntington University. He attended the University of Minnesota for his bachelor’s degree, Texas A&M for his master’s degree and University of Missouri in Columbia for his Ph.D.

Though he’s new to Aberdeen, Wanous is no stranger to South Dakota. He spent 17 years as a biology faculty member at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, where he also served as associate academic dean, natural science division chair and biology department chair.

When he and his wife, Martha, learned they were going to be grandparents, they decided it was time to consider moving back to the area, since their daughter lives in Sioux Falls.

‘People Here Really Care about Students’

When the NSU provost position opened up, Wanous was excited – and his excitement grew after he interviewed and visited campus.

“I’ve been so impressed because it’s such a beautiful campus and you can tell that people here really care about students and student success,” Wanous said. “Those are the things that really resonate with me as well. I’m really excited about being here.”

Also impressive is the positive relationship between the university and the city of Aberdeen.

“I think that’s somewhat unusual, and it’s a real plus,” Wanous said. “It’s really a win-win for the city and the university.”

Along with getting to know the campus and community, Wanous said one of his priorities is to help faculty work on new academic program development.

“That’s one of our big goals,” he said.

Experiential Learning Important

Another important goal is student recruitment, and enhancing retention and degree completion. Research by the Association of American Colleges and Universities has shown that engaging in high-impact practices can improve student retention and graduation rates.

“A lot of that has to do with experiential learning – an area I’m hopeful to enhance at Northern,” he said.

Examples include undergraduate research, internships, service learning and study abroad, which allow students to have a broader experience.

“Those are some things I’m really interested in advocating for,” Wanous said.