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Dr. Laura Vosejpka of Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, has been selected as the next dean of Helena College. 

If her contract is approved next week by the Board of Regents for the Montana University System, she will start Aug. 12 with an annual salary of $145,000. 

“I am so excited to join the team at Helena College,” Vosejpka said in a press release from the college. “I could tell it was an exceptional place right away—everyone was so eager to tell me all of the special things about both the college and the city, and it did not take me long to see exactly what they meant. I have some projects to wrap up at my current institution, but am looking forward to moving to Helena as soon as I can.”

Vosejpka is the founding dean of the college of science and liberal arts for Kettering University. She has worked in both the classroom and administration at Mid Michigan Community College, Northwood University and Alma College. She holds a doctoral degree in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and bachelor's degrees in chemistry and English from Ohio State University. 

The dean search committee was led by Brock Tessman, who is the deputy commissioner of academic, research and student affairs for the Montana University System. Tessman said Vosejpka's mix of education and experience made her stand out among a "very strong and very diverse pool of candidates."

"She has one of the most outstanding academic records I've seen for a two-year leader," Tessman said, adding that Vosejpka "electrified students, faculty and staff" during her in-person visit to Helena in early May. 

The press release says Vosejpka is a certified yoga instructor who enjoys hiking, backpacking and camping, and she ran her first half marathon in 2018. She also enjoys traveling and is an amateur welder and metal artist, and an avid outdoor photographer. 

“My husband, Paul, and I have spent our entire professional lives in Michigan, even though neither of us is a Michigander,” Vosejpka said in the release. “Michigan is beautiful, but where we are is awfully flat! We always knew that we wanted to move to an area with great outdoor activities, friendly people and a gorgeous setting. Montana was high on our list of potential landing places, and we are so glad that this opportunity has come up for us. We know that all of us, Paul and me and our four dogs, will love it in Helena.”

Tessman said Helena College received 46 applications for the dean position. That pool was later narrowed down to seven semifinalists and four finalists. 

The other three finalists were: 

  • Angela McLean, the former lieutenant governor of Montana and the current director of American Indian and Minority Achievement and K-12 partnerships for the Montana University System. 
  • Anneliese A. Ripley, dean of the school of outreach and director of research and grants at the University of Montana-Western. 
  • Mark A. Smith, vice president for educational services at Temple College in Temple, Texas.

Daniel Bingham was Helena College's dean for 12 years before stepping down in June 2017. Bingham left to become a missions president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Australia, but returned to the United States after breaking his neck in a bicycle crash about seven months later.

Jane Baker was named as interim dean in June 2017. After the college's initial search for a permanent dean came up short, Kirk Lacey became interim dean in January 2018.

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