Not many people arrive at Carroll University in January looking forward to the weather. But Minnesotan Dr. Mark Blegen, Carroll’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs, is hoping his new home will be a couple degrees warmer. He’s already been struck by the warmth of the campus community.
Blegen, who began his new post in January, said he was struck by the hospitality he received during a campus visit while interviewing for the position. “It felt incredibly comfortable at Carroll,” he said. “I’m delighted to be a part of this community. Community is very important to me, and it seems very important to Carroll.”
Blegen previously served as the dean of health sciences at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. His accomplishments there included leading efforts on strategic planning, academic initiatives, fundraising, enrollment management and complex budget planning across all degree levels. He was instrumental in the ongoing success of the university’s online occupational therapy assistant program, a unique model that serves more than 500 students nationwide and includes a strong foundation in the liberal arts. He also worked on a collaborative effort with the university’s school of humanities, arts and sciences to develop innovative 3+2 and 3+3 degree programs that link liberal arts majors to multiple clinical doctorates and other graduate health care programs.
Blegen noted he has strong ties to the liberal arts to go with his experiences in the health sciences and he said he considers the liberal arts critical to higher education. “Just look at health care, or any health science for that matter,” he pointed out. “The content is changing at such a fast rate. If I were teaching the same content I was teaching just five years ago, I’d be way behind.” With such rapidly evolving disciplines, the ability to think, learn and adjust is vitally important.
“The liberal arts and humanities give us a keen awareness of understanding, of how to think and synthesize information. We need to know how to learn and be curious. That’s one of the big benefits of the liberal arts,” he said.
Blegen graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in sport science, from St. Cloud State University with an M.S. in exercise science, and from Kent State with a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and is a former senior editor of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He has been active at the national level, serving on numerous committees for both the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He and his wife, Kristin Schroeder, are the parents of two young daughters, Krin and Lyv.