St. Cloud State President Remembered for Commitment to Inclusion

This week, St. Cloud State University (SCSU) in Minnesota is mourning late President Earl H. Potter III, who died in a one-vehicle car crash Monday night in Brooklyn Center.

Potter, who had served as the university’s president since 2007, was known for his commitment to creating an inclusive campus. At a press conference Tuesday, faculty, staff, administrators, students, and colleagues remembered Potter and the work he did to improve SCSU.

“Earl’s passing is a huge loss to SCSU, to the state of Minnesota, and to higher education,” said Steven J. Rosenstone, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “His leadership, on so many fronts, will be missed. Earl was a colleague and a friend — a thoughtful, insightful leader — who cared deeply about the university, its students, and the St. Cloud community.”

Student Government President Mikaela Johnson read a statement to the SCSU community on behalf of Potter’s wife, children, and grandchildren, calling it “an honor.”

“He never forgot to stop and thank everyone for their work and [the] effort they put in to better the university,” Johnson said, “and that’s all he ever really wanted was to make this a great experience for all students.”

A 2009 alum of SCSU, Haji Yussuf recalled the effect Potter had on the campus community.

“He made this space safe for everyone, regardless of religion, color, sexual orientation, where you come from,” Yussuf said. “He was building a community; he was a bridge builder.”

Also at the press conference, university leaders vowed to continue Potter’s work by focusing on affordable, quality education, increased military services, and diversity.

In February, Potter had accepted a three-year appointment to serve as SCSU president through at least June 2019. The university announced that Provost Ashish Vaidya will serve as acting president; the board of trustees will decide next week whether to appoint him as interim president.

The entire staff of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine sends its condolences to the SCSU campus and community. We know that President Potter was an iconic leader and a true champion of diversity and inclusion, and his loss is felt by all.