Karl Ivan Solibakke
Northland College President
Tucked along the south shore of Lake Superior, Northland College is surrounded by the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest—more than one million acres of public lands that form a desirable and unforgettable ecosystem. Our location not only affords living laboratories for experiential engagement, but it is also an unparalleled opportunity for our talented students and faculty to share mutual aspirations for the great Northwoods.
From its founding in 1892, Northland College has championed the needs of the citizens of the Upper Midwest. We promoted gender equality, when many higher education institutions excluded women, and we afford equal opportunities to the local Native American Ojibwe tribes. Moreover, we served first- and second-generation immigrants, who flocked to the Upper Midwest for our lumber and farming industries.
In 1971, Northland College became one of the first higher education institutions in the country to include environmental studies in its academic endeavors and target its mission to raising awareness around ecosystems as well as research into the effects of climate change. Immediately following, the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute—acclaimed for its expertise in environmental outreach, citizen science, and education on regional conservation—was founded.
At the turn of the 21st century, Northland leveraged its environmental expertise to help launch the EcoLeague, a consortium of six institutions that share missions devoted to environmental responsibility and social change.
Today, the College’s leading-edge curriculum weaves the liberal arts into a robust concentration on climate sciences and environmental sustainability. Northland ranks first in sustainable curriculum in the AASHE Sustainable Campus Index for its acclaimed degree programs and nationally recognized learning outcomes, all of which are predicated on living laboratories, immersive learning experiences, literacies around sustainability, and curricular diversity.
We offer a broad array of exciting degree programs, each of which merges liberal arts traditions with an attractive array of eco-friendly skills. Above all, Northland’s degrees inspire environmentally-sensitive employers and resonate with competitive graduate programs across the nation.
We continue to innovate, expand, and adapt as our world becomes increasingly global in its complexities. To facilitate investigations into the environmental and political challenges impacting freshwater preservation, innovative agricultural methods, rural economic sustainability, and the protection of natural spaces, Northland College has established three centers of excellence besides the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute—the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation, the Center for Rural Communities, and the Hulings Rice Food Center.
As its fifteenth president, I am privileged to lead the College into a new decade of success and national prominence.