Eye on KELOLAND: Meet the new NSU leader


ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — The fall semester at Northern State University comes with a new leader. Neal Schnoor started his role as president on July 1st.

Before coming to the Hub City he served as the chief of staff to the president at California State University Long Beach.

Neal Schnoor’s first couple of months at Northern State University have included a recent celebration.

Earlier this month the university held a groundbreaking for its new Regional Sports Complex, featuring a football stadium, a softball field, event space, and locker rooms.

Schnoor is now the 18th president of NSU.

“I first saw the job and what attracted me to it is I was a first generation student, attended Wayne State College, and so this is an institution very much regional, comprehensive public institution that helps a large number of students who are first generation and lower socioeconomic status. And, so that gave me my start in life and so I have a great passion to do that here,” NSU president Neal Schnoor said.

Schnoor has made multiple stops in higher education during his career, and he served as a band director at three Nebraska high schools.

Student Government Association President Jacob Swanson is impressed with Schnoor’s willingness to listen.

“He wants to hear what we have to say as students, and he just wants input on what we think needs to be done so I think it’s great,” NSU Student Government Association president Jacob Swanson said.

Schnoor says one of the goals right now is increasing enrollment, which is currently more than 3,000.

“We think we’re poised to do that, not only with the new facilities, but our faculty. What stands out to me is they truly want to be teachers,” Schnoor said.

Some of those facility updates at Northern in recent years include a new regional science education center, a remodel at the fine arts center, and new residence halls.

But bolstering enrollment doesn’t come without challenges.

Schnoor says higher education is competitive across the U.S. and students have a lot of choices.

“We think this is very special place now with the new facilities, the modern amenities. Students are noticing, but we have to tell our story. Some people have told me one of the things is we’re the best kept secret in the state or the region and we want to change that,” Schnoor said.

And he hopes by sharing the university’s story, it won’t be a secret to anyone anymore.

Schnoor and his wife, who’s an elementary principal in Nebraska, have two adult children. He says she’ll be joining him in Aberdeen as soon as possible.

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