The Midland University Board of Directors announced that Jody Horner has been unanimously elected the 16th president in the institution’s 131-year history. A proven executive, Horner brings to Midland decades of experience in leadership of one of America’s largest business enterprises, higher education, and nonprofit organizations.
“We are delighted to have successfully recruited Jody to Midland. Jody quickly rose to the top of an unbelievably qualified pool of applicants, not only for her success leading blue-chip enterprises through impressive growth, but also for her values-based service to her community as a mentor and board member of a Lutheran college,” Midland University Board Chairman Gary Perkins said. “When we began this search process we hoped to find a proven leader, capable of sustaining our growth trajectory while enhancing our ability to fulfill our mission of service, and in finding Jody we exceeded expectations on all fronts.”
Ms. Horner joins Midland from a highly successful term as President of Cargill Meat Solutions and Cargill Case Ready. Responsible for a multi-billion dollar corporation that supplies some of the world’s largest retailers and leading more than 3,000 employees, Horner facilitated a high-growth strategy through approaches that increased employee engagement while dramatically reducing turnover at all levels. Before taking over Cargill Meat Solutions and Cargill Case Ready, she served as president of one of the world’s largest food, industrial, and agricultural salt enterprises.
As an advocate for the power of education and innovation, Horner championed the successful launch of the Cargill Innovation Center. A $15 million investment, the project created a world-class destination for collaborative efforts by food scientists, microbiologists, and culinary teams engaged in research and development.
“While our list of candidates began at 200 – a number of them truly exceptional – Ms. Horner’s business acumen and commitment to service consistently rose to the top at each step of the process,” said Perkins. “Jody Horner proved to be our top candidate, and the board is extraordinarily pleased we secured our first choice to lead this great institution.”
In addition to extensive corporate success, Horner has applied her skills to leadership in higher education. As a lifelong Lutheran, she has actively served on the Board of Regents for St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota. Horner has contributed her skills to the development of a new strategic plan for the intensely residential college of more than 3,000 students and leads a task force exploring strategies to reduce student debt. A featured classroom speaker, she draws on previous experiences managing college recruiting at Cargill to consider methods of better connecting students with employers at graduation.
Horner’s commitment to service extends beyond higher education and into the larger community. An active member of the Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, she serves as Board Chair of the nation’s second largest Big Brothers Big Sisters agency. Serving more than 6,000 youths statewide, Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with enduring, one-to-one relationships that change lives for the better.
“I am delighted to steward an institution with the proud heritage and bright future of Midland University,” said Horner. “I look forward to furthering the momentum that Midland has achieved under the leadership of President Sasse.”
Horner will arrive on a campus that has been transformed into a truly student-centric destination over the last five years. Since the launch of the university’s unique Four-Year Graduation Guarantee, the institution has invested in an intensive advising and support structure to ensure each student has the opportunity and support to be successful in achieving on-time graduation.
Since 2009, Midland’s enrollment has more than doubled and large investments have created more options for student involvement than ever before. As the state’s largest athletic department, Midland has added 11 varsity sports and is now home to 27 varsity programs and 700 student-athletes.
In addition to student support and athletic enhancements, the university has expanded to more than 250 opportunities in the performing arts, added numerous clubs and student groups, and launched new options for graduate studies. With the addition of the area’s first hybrid MBA program, the university is pioneering new models for teaching and learning in the digital age.
“The growth Midland has experienced in recent years has given us the opportunity to serve more young people, more effectively than ever before,” said Perkins. “Jody is prepared to lead our fantastic team of faculty, staff, and students in writing the next chapter in the Midland story.”
Horner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from St. Olaf College and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management.
Currently residing in Wichita, Kansas, Horner will meet with faculty and staff this week. She will end her presidency with Cargill at the end of the year and begin official duties at Midland on February 1, 2015.