Beth Borgen selected as Lakeland’s 18th president
Lakeland University has promoted Executive Vice President Beth Borgen, D.B.A., to be the institution’s 18th president. Borgen becomes the first female to lead the institution in its 158-year history. Her selection was made by Lakeland’s Board of Trustees today following a national search.
In her 15 years at Lakeland, Borgen has quickly been promoted to more responsible positions. A first-generation college graduate who earned her master of business administration from Lakeland in 2011, she has led dramatic growth in Lakeland’s fundraising efforts, as well as implementation of the university’s award-winning Cooperative Education program.
“Change is constant, especially at a place like Lakeland,” Borgen said. “We are well positioned for the future thanks to our innovation, creative problem solving and collaboration, and I am prepared to make sure those strategies will continue to be part of our story.
“Lakeland has a long history of serving first-generation college students and working adults seeking their degree. I am a proud Lakeland graduate who understands the challenges of both of those populations.
“We all look forward to finding new, innovative ways to serve our students. We will continue to grow our Cooperative Education program and student-run business venture, and we will also expand our relationships with the technical college system and regional employers as we continue to position Lakeland as a school of choice.”
Barbara Gannon, who completed her tenure as chair of Lakeland’s Board of Trustees on Thursday, said, “Beth has demonstrated excellent and seemingly tireless leadership skills, championed campus inclusiveness and personally understands the unique challenges facing first-generation college students. She is an ideal fit to lead our institution, and I look forward to supporting her presidency and her vision as a Lakeland trustee.”
Jeff Spence, the chair of the Presidential Search Committee and the newly elected chair of the Board of Trustees, said, “Beth as our president puts us in a great position to continue our accelerated journey to Lakeland’s future of serving our communities through our co-op program, the Kellett School, Lakeland University-Japan and our other innovative programs.”
Lakeland President David Black said, “The Lakeland Community and Board of Trustees made a wise choice. They clearly understand that this university is moving in a different, more positive direction than three-quarters of other private institutions. They understand Beth Borgen’s ideas and strategies are a major contributing reason. I am excited about the future of Lakeland.”
Borgen was named executive vice president in July of 2018, a role that has seen her lead teams that manage Lakeland’s enrollment, Cooperative Education program, financial aid, fundraising and external relations/marketing efforts. She has played a significant role in building relationships with key community stakeholders and employers, and her team has successfully launched several boards of advocates that provide valuable input for LU’s academic programs.
She led Lakeland through the creation of its current strategic plan, which prepares to position the institution for declines in student populations by the middle of this decade that will challenge all institutions of higher learning.
She recently led a task force of key stakeholders to fully implement Lakeland’s co-op program, which for the last three falls has generated three of the largest incoming freshman classes in Lakeland’s history.
Fundraising has grown dramatically under her leadership. Borgen moved into a fundraising role in 2007, and in 2015 was named vice president of advancement.
She led Lakeland’s recent $12 million campaign – one of the largest in the institution’s history – that funded a dramatic overhaul of the Younger Family Campus Center, the region’s first outdoor turf athletic field and funding to launch the co-op program. The $12 million campaign goal was accomplished ahead of schedule and netted an additional $3-plus million over its goal.
Under her leadership, Lakeland’s Movers and Shakers Gala, which was among the most popular and well-attended Sheboygan County fundraisers, grew and found new ways to benefit community organizations.
Borgen will begin her tenure as president in spring 2021 as Lakeland begins a $26 million investment in its main campus, funded by a $35.4 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development division.
Lakeland will construct two new residence halls to serve freshman and sophomores, a water tower and related infrastructure, and use $9.4 million to refinance the university’s existing long-term debt. It represents the largest investment in the main campus in the institution’s 158-year history. LU was the only university to receive a loan approval from USDA in 2020, and the co-op program was a decisive factor in the decision.
Borgen has always maintained a strong commitment to personal improvement. Earlier this month, she successfully defended her dissertation through the Doctorate of Business Administration program at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her research is titled “Self-efficacy and retention among first-generation college students,” and focused on Lakeland students and ways LU can improve student retention.
She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from St. Norbert College in 2001. She worked as an event manager at St. Norbert before joining Lakeland’s staff in 2005.
Locally, she has served on the RCS Empowers, Inc. Board of Directors since March of 2016. During that time, Lakeland and RCS have partnered on a number of occasions, including the creation of summer programming at Lakeland for RCS participants.
Borgen and her husband, Jim, a captain with the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department, and their three children, Stella (11), Sydney (10) and Oliver (8), live in Fond du Lac. They are excited to move to the president’s house located on the Main Campus.
Mission House/Lakeland Presidents:
1. Heinrich Kurtz
2. Hermann Muehlmeier
3. Heinrich Meier
4. Ernst Krampe
5. Ernst Hofer
6. Abraham Dahlmann
7. John Darms
Acting President: 1930-31
8. Paul Grosshuesch
Acting President: 1950-51
9. Arthur Krueger
10. John Morland
11. Ralph Mirse
12. Richard Hill
13. David R. Black
14. Stephen A. Gould
15. Michael A. Grandillo
Interim president: 2013-14
16. Daniel Eck
David R. Black
17. David R. Black
18. Beth Borgen