Photo credit: Katelynn Dilts.
This year Northern has a new president. Dr. Timothy Downs calls San Diego, CA, his hometown. He holds a Ph.D. in organizational communication from the University of Oklahoma, a M.A. in communication studies from West Virginia University, and a B.A. in communication studies from California State University, Sacramento.
Before he became president of NSU, Dr. Downs was the Provost and Chief Academic Officer of New York’s Niagara University. When he visited NSU and began the interview process, he immediately liked the people, saying, “There was no question when I was offered the position.”
President Downs described moving to South Dakota, “I parachuted into a new environment, wrapped up my parachute, and began exploring and learning.” He attended several community events, including the Brown County Fair and Sizzlin’ Summer Nights.
He strongly believes universities and their communities depend on one another to be successful. “Communication [with the community] is critical to the success of the campus, and the success of the campus is critical to the success of the students.”
Dr. Downs has several projects he wants to focus on in his time as president. The first is on keeping enrollment stable but growing at an appropriate rate.
The second focus is to create marketing about the excellence of NSU. He calls the university “the best kept secret.”
The final focus is on improving facilities.
President Downs describes himself as working in the human development business. He encourages students to be involved in clubs and to intern because, “All learning doesn’t take place in the classroom. That’s the beauty of higher education—different experiences help you develop.”
A piece of advice he would like to give to all students is to set goals. “Write down your goal and the steps needed to reach your goal. Seeing it on paper gives you a sense of ownership and a plan for your dream.”