A native Minnesotan and graduate of Augsburg College in Minneapolis has been chosen president of Norway's largest university.

Curt Rice, 52, will take over as rector of Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences on Aug. 1, the school's board announced last week.

Rice said Sunday that his selection marks "the first time ever that a non-Norwegian has been at the helm of a Norwegian college or university."

He's currently a professor in the Department of Languages and Linguistics at the university in Tromsø, Norway.

Rice received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Augsburg College in 1984. He and his wife, Tove I. Dahl, also an Augsburg grad, received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. Dahl is originally from White Bear Lake. He earned his doctorate in general linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin.

"The University College plays an important role in providing skilled professionals in many sectors, such as education, health and technology," Rice said in a statement announcing his selection. "We will grow the best possible academic teams … to pave the way for excellence in our teaching programs and research activities."

Rice grew up in Rochester and graduated from Rochester Mayo High School in 1980. His parents live in Bemidji, and his wife runs a Norwegian language camp just outside Bemidji.

Rice has loyally made summertime trips back to Bemidji and wrote in a Star Tribune commentary in 2000 that "I enjoy the exotic Norwegian midnight sun, I sleep better during the dark nights of the North Woods. And, much as I love the Norwegian mountains, I breathe better among the rolling forests and clear lakes of my childhood."