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Northwestern’s sixth president called home

Monday, August 6, 2018


Dr. Donald 0. Ericksen

University of Northwestern – St. Paul

University of Northwestern regretfully shares the news that Dr. Don Ericksen, the sixth president of University of Northwestern, died on August 6, 2018, surrounded by his family.

The memorial service for Northwestern’s sixth president, Dr. Don Ericksen has been set for Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 4 p.m., with visitation starting at 3 p.m., at the First Evangelical Free Church of Maplewood, 2696 Hazelwood Street, Maplewood, MN. Light supper to follow.

Please join the Northwestern community in praying for Mrs. Ericksen and the entire Ericksen family in the days ahead. 

“Northwestern has lost a true leader, a devoted friend, and a brother in Christ. Today we are grateful for the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.” – President Alan Cureton

Dr. Ericksen’s tenure in education extended over 50 years and included teaching, coaching, counseling, and administration. 

Following 21 years in public education, he became dean of students at Northwestern College in Saint Paul, MN, from 1977-1980. He then served as executive vice president (1980-1983) and acting president (1983-1985). Upon retiring from the presidency in 1997, Dr. Ericksen served as chancellor until January 2002, when he was named president emeritus and trustee emeritus.

He served as president of Northwestern College from 1985-97. During his presidency, major growth at Northwestern took place in enrollment, academic programs and facilities, and the radio network expanded. His Spirit-fueled leadership spurred many accomplishments, which included:

  • Academic programs increased from 21 to 41 majors.
  • The SkyLight Network was launched in 1985.
  • FOCUS, a degree completion program for adults, began in 1990.
  • Northwestern built four AM towers in Oakdale in 1991, expanding its local AM power from 2,500 watts to 25,000 watts.
  • KTIS-FM acquired a new broadcasting location in 1991, moving from a 300-foot tower in Golden Valley to a 1,050-foot tower in Shoreview, greatly expanding its outreach throughout the metro area and beyond.
  • KTIS was named Station of the Year in 1992 by the National Religious Broadcasters.
  • The Berntsen Resource Center was completed in December 1992.
  • KDNW-FM in Duluth dedicated a new station and increased power from 1,300 watts to 40,000 watts in January 1993.
  • Northwestern purchased 14.6 acres adjacent to campus and developed a $28 million project known today as Eagle Crest and Akenson Hall.
  • WSMR-FM, a 50,000 watt station in Sarasota, FL, joined the radio network.
  • Athletic fields were relocated and upgraded, and the Ericksen Center, a health and physical education facility in his namesake, was completed in 1996.
  • The Fischer Tennis Courts were added to the athletic facilities in 1997.
  • The Denler Art Gallery was added to the art department in 1997.

Dr. Ericksen held a B.S. degree with majors in social science and English, and an M.S. in educational psychology, guidance and counseling from St. Cloud State University. He completed undergraduate course work at Bethel University and North Park University, and graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. As the recipient of an academic fellowship from the State of Minnesota, Dr. Ericksen completed and earned a doctorate in administration and supervision of higher education with cognate emphasis in the field of continuing education from University of Tennessee.

Dr. Ericksen served with many organizations, councils, committees, and boards. He chaired the board of directors of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., comprised of over 200 private liberal arts institutions. He also served on the board of directors of the American Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

He was listed in Who’s Who for American Education, Christian Management, Religion, the Registry and Who’s Who National, Worldwide, and International. Dr. Ericksen was recognized for his leadership influence in Christian higher education and was named a Dellenback Fellow of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Religious Heritage of America recognized him as Educator of the Year in 1996.

Dr. Ericksen remained active in the UNW community—attending various functions and campus activities. Information regarding his celebration of life will be shared with the community when it becomes available.