By Caitlin Wilts, Marketing Intern
MSUM head men’s basketball coach and athletic mentor Chad Walthall and his wife Jenni, senior director of development for the MSUM Foundation, have been a part of the Dragon family for about 10 years. While they work in two different sectors of campus, they have a mutual passion for connecting with students and members of the community for a much greater purpose.
As parents of four children who moved several times around the country, the Walthalls view Moorhead as their home and are thankful for all the opportunities MSUM has provided for them since moving back to Minnesota in 2010.
Chad grew up in Staples, Minn., and Jenni is from the Twin Cities area. They met at Zorbaz in Detroit Lakes and a year later started their life as a married couple.
The couple worked as faculty members at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa for 7 years. There, Chad’s love for coaching basketball and connecting with student athletes outside of the court grew as Jenni began working in development and fundraising for higher education.
Jenni said her experience working with young adults for the first time at Loras College provided a unique atmosphere and energy to her job. In the past she worked with corporate sales and management. She says the switch to a different environment was eye opening. “It felt great to work with students in order to help them get scholarships to go to school and receive their dream degree.”
After his time at Loras College, Chad accepted the position of assistant coach at University of Iowa. Three years later, the opportunity to coach for MSUM appeared and they decided to move back to their home state.
Currently, Jenni’s primary job for the MSUM Foundation is to work with alumni, friends, and businesses in the area to help them connect, engage, or give to the university.
What’s the best part about working on campus together?
Jenni: With Chad coaching, I really get to know his players well and I like to attend all of the games during the season. I frequently see student athletes on campus, which makes our worlds collide. We also have a daughter who plays volleyball for MSUM so we have her in the mix as well!
Chad: Jenni and I work on two separate sides of campus: her in Owens and me spending all of my time in Nemzek. Although we don’t run into each other a lot, we do try and to be intentional about seeing each other every once in a while.
Jenni: To add to that, although we attended different universities, we both feel like we have become adopted Dragons to the MSUM community. And while our positions on campus are very different from each other, we feel like we are both striving to reach the same goal, to help provide and encourage students to reach their fullest potential.
What energizes you at work, as a pair and individually?
Chad: With my time at MSUM so far, I have loved being around student athletes. Having the ability to lead students in all areas whether it’s in the classroom, on the basketball court, or being friends, it’s special to be a part of their development on campus. I tell my students that making mistakes is normal. Seeing how they learn and grow from them while teaching what successful behavior looks like has been one of my favorite and most growing aspects of my job at MSUM.
Jenni: What excites me about my work is that I’m able to partner with donors and help them feel really good about their gift. It’s a unique experience finding out what is important to the individuals I work with and discovering ways they can give back to students or the university as a whole. I love finding the point in which we can come together and help them through that process of a partnership as well as seeing the outcome of their gift.
Would you want to swap places for a day? Why or why not?
Chad: I would be horrible at Jenni’s job! I’m exactly where I belong. I’m thankful that I am where I should be and what I’m doing. I absolutely admire what Jenni and her staff do on a daily basis and I think our strengths are very much different. Because of that, I think that makes us work as a team even though we are in two different departments on campus!
Jenni: I was an athlete when I was younger, but if I were a coach I would put myself in the category of being overly emotional! Chad has much better poise than I do!
Chad: *Laughing with Jenni* You should ask our kids about Jenni being a coach, because they would give you a more entertaining answer!
The Walthalls are driven to provide for students in all aspects of their time at MSUM. Thank you for all you do for the campus community!
Do you know a duo on campus who would make a great feature? Send their names to email@example.com.