Jim Luoma has spent his entire professional life in education in Minnesota, first as a teacher for the South Washington County School District, then as a principal in that district and, finally, as superintendent for Grand Rapids public schools. Dr. Luoma retired in 1999 and began serving as a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system trustee that same year. His term ended June 30, 2004.
During his board term, Dr. Luoma served as vice chair and chair of the Board of Trustees. He describes his role as a facilitator and policy maker, not a hands-on problem solver. Dr. Luoma also was chair of the board’s Educational Policy Committee and worked diligently with two other standing committees: Finance and Facilities and Technology. In addition, he served on the Ad Hoc Legislative Committee and the Futures Subcommittee, bringing his fine planning skills to the fore.
A consistent supporter of professional and educational development, Dr. Luoma is, perhaps, best known for his role in creating the system’s leadership development program, which began in November 2004. The systemwide program for mid-level faculty or staff members attracts those who aspire to higher leadership positions. The academy helps participants develop leadership skills, gain an appreciation of different perspectives in the system and create a network of colleagues committed to transformational leadership. Since the program began, more than 150 faculty and staff have been selected to participate. In 2006, the Board of Trustees officially named the program the Luoma Leadership Academy in honor of Dr. Luoma’s leading role in bringing it to fruition. He never gave up on the concept of "growing your own" for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.
Accessibility and affordability also were key issues for Dr. Luoma during his tenure on the board. He emphasized the importance of the role played by colleges and universities in the communities they serve. Upon his departure from the governing board, it is no wonder Jim Luoma left with the title, Trustee Emeritus. Also in 2004, Dr. Luoma received the Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.
Dr. Luoma earned his doctorate at the University of St. Thomas, a master of science degree from Northern State College in Aberdeen, S.D., and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. In 1962, Dr. Luoma began his higher education studies at Eveleth Junior College, now Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and a part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. He and his wife, Carol, have two daughters, Lynn and Darcy.
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system comprises 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota. The system serves about 250,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 140,000 students in non-credit courses.