Edward Inch eager to lead the University into ‘inspirational’ future

The last time Edward Inch was on the Minnesota State Mankato campus was in 1981 for a national debate competition.

The next time it will be as its next president.

Inch, provost and vice president of academic affairs at California State University, East Bay, was on Wednesday named the thirteenth president of Minnesota State University, Mankato, by the Minnesota State system board of trustees, endorsing the recommendation of system Chancellor Davinder Malhotra.

“It is one of those things that’s a little bit like a tidal wave,” Inch said from his home Wednesday afternoon. “It’s all you would hope. And there’s more, there’s all the emotions that go with it.”

Inch will replace retiring President Richard Davenport on July 1, 2021.

“Dr. Inch has extensive experience in developing and advancing initiatives around student success, retention, and diversity equity and inclusion,” Malhotra said at the trustees’ meeting. “He understands the importance of community engagement and positioning the University as an asset which contributes immensely to the region’s social and economic vibrancy.”

Minnesota State Mankato President-Elect Edward Inch

A Washington state native, Inch has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, East Bay, a diverse university with more than 14,500 students and 850 faculty. Prior to his role at Cal State, which he’s had since 2016, he served five years as dean of the College of Arts and Letters at California State University, Sacramento.

“This is the culmination of a lot of work,” he said Wednesday, “and the opportunity to be at the type of university that I really enjoy: A place that has a good community, that reinforces itself and is very conscious about providing a really welcoming environment and one that—on campus in particular—aspires for its students.”

Despite not visiting campus during the course of his candidacy, Inch said he grew increasingly enthusiastic about the job the more he interacted learned about Mankato, from community Zoom sessions to student videos.

“Students and their staff or faculty, they have a common goal,” he said. “They perceive themselves as part of the same team: We’re going to help move our students to be where they want to be, what they want to achieve.”

It’s been 40 years since Inch was last on campus as a speech and debate tournament competitor from Western Washington University. When he arrives in June as the next president, the first thing he plans to do at the University is take a walk around. Since his days as an undergraduate, he said, he’s always enjoyed the spirit of a campus as a new term begins.

“When the new year starts there’s a vibe there, an excitement. There’s something palpable about the interaction with people as they move around on campus. So the first thing I’ll do when I get there—and I might not tell people— I’m just going to walk the campus. It’s a beautiful campus. I’ve been blown away by what I’ve seen on videos and pictures. It’s gorgeous. And that shows care and pride in the place.”

Once he officially takes office, he’ll look to everyone from cabinet members to students to help him settle in.

“Together,” he said, “we should be able to chart a future for the campus that I think is really inspirational.”