Capella University, a Minneapolis-based for-profit online school aimed at working adults, has named Richard "Dick" Senese as its new president.
Senese had been serving as interim president for nearly a year, in addition to his previous duties as vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer — positions he has held since 2014. While president, he will continue to be the school's chief academic officer.
In the permanent role, Senese said he hopes to continue moving forward with a number of initiatives already in place, including growing its FlexPath program that allows students to work through courses at their own pace and building more partnerships with businesses to have employees take classes at Capella.
"We're well-positioned to keep working on those strategies going forward and continuing to find models of education for working adults that are flexible, more affordable and align to their career aspirations," Senese said in an interview.
The university is part of Capella Education Co., a publicly traded company that has been recently looking for new growth in new nondegree programs and workforce training that are separate from the university.
The university was one of the first companies in the early 1990s to offer accredited degrees through online courses. Today, it's one of the biggest of its kind with 38,000 students and about $430 million in annual revenue. Its specialty has traditionally been in nursing and education, but it has 51 different undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
"Dick's commitment to adult education, track record of results, understanding of Capella, and his deep personal commitment to our mission and values made him the strongest possible fit to lead Capella University into the future," Eric Jolly, Capella's board chairman, said in a statement.
Senese previously worked at the University of Minnesota Extension for 13 years. He also has taught at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Metropolitan State University and the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. He is a licensed psychologist and received his doctoral degree in psychology from the U.
A Minnesota native, he grew up on the Iron Range and served as campaign manager for former U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone in 1990.
He replaces Scott Kinney, Capella's previous president who resigned in November 2015. A company spokeswoman said Kinney left because "he was ready for different leadership challenges."