Dr. Michael Wanous
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Michael Wanous serves as the provost and vice president for academic affairs for Northern State University, starting in that position in July 2019. Wanous earned a B.S. in agronomy and international agriculture from the University of Minnesota, M.S. in plant breeding from Texas A&M University and Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Wanous previously served as vice president for academic affairs at Huntington University for five years. Prior to that, he worked at Augustana University for 17 years, holding positions of professor of biology, department chair, natural science division chair, and associate academic dean of the university. His teaching was in the areas of genetics, cell biology and molecular biology, and his research focused on plant molecular cytogenetics and gene expression.
Wanous’ professional experience also includes completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Missouri-Columbia and spending a sabbatical year with his family in Norwich, U.K., where he worked at the John Innes Centre on plant genetics research.
Wanous serves on the board of directors of ACAD, a national professional development organization for academic leaders. He is past president of the South Dakota Academy of Science.
Wanous and his wife, Martha, have two grown children and two grandchildren. Outside of work, his hobbies include gardening, hiking and reading.
Mr. Sean Blackburn
Dean of Students
Sean Blackburn came to Northern in 2020 with 18 years of experience in the field of student affairs, most recently at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. There, he served as vice president for student affairs, previously holding the position of associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
Blackburn’s past experience also includes working in various student affairs roles at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.; the University of Wisconsin-River Falls; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va. Throughout his career, Blackburn has worked to create and support co-curricular programs and services that advance student engagement, safety and success while fostering a diverse and inclusive community.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master of education degree in student affairs administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His wife, Sarah, and kids, Christopher, Reagan, and Katherine, love to camp, attend athletic events, and explore South Dakota in their free time.
Dr. Debbi Bumpous
Vice President for Technology/Chief Information Officer
Appointed in 2008, Debbi Bumpous is the vice president of technology and chief information technology officer, and is responsible for planning and coordinating information technology (IT) resources and the strategic use of IT resources. She also serves as the university strategic planning coordinator in which she coordinates and facilitates the university’s strategic planning activities and serves as the university export controls officer.
Bumpous began her career in higher education as an instructional designer for the Center for Statewide E-learning in 2001. Since, she has had held positions as technology help desk manager, adjunct instructor, interim director of extended studies and interim chief information officer. A first-generation college student, Bumpous received a B.S. in secondary education, B.S. in administrative systems, and M.S. in e-learning technology and administration, all from NSU; and an Ed.D. in adult and higher education administration from the University of South Dakota.
Bumpous volunteers her time professionally as an Educause member and at numerous campus events. She enjoys being a mentor and strives to support and elevate women in technology. Personally, she has been involved in the Aberdeen Lions Club, NSU Lions Club, SPURS Therapeutic Riding Center and Women in Science, and is an officer in her homeowner’s association.
Bumpous and her husband, Jeff, have two grown children, Zack and Brandon. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, book collecting, the outdoors and photography.
Mr. Nate Davis
Director of NSU Athletics
Nate Davis was named director of athletics at Northern in March 2022. Davis is one of only five people to hold the NSU director of athletics title over a span of nearly 70 years.
Davis was senior associate director of athletics for Pittsburg State University from 2017-22. At Pitt State, Davis oversaw events and operations, equipment, transportation and all PSU athletics facilities.
In 2018-19, Davis participated in the NCAA Pathways Program, which is designed to prepare athletics administrators for positions as directors of athletics or conference commissioners. The yearlong program accepts senior-level administrators across all three divisions.
Within the Central Region at Northwest Missouri State University, Davis was associate athletic director for administration; and assistant athletic director for marketing, promotions and licensing for the Bearcats.
In roles at Northwest Missouri State and Pittsburg State, Davis was member of the MIAA Basketball Championships Committee. He also served as committee chair in 2021-22, where he oversaw the direction of tournament operations and was in direct consultation with MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy.
A native of Salina, Kansas, Davis served as assistant director of athletics for operations at Southwest Baptist University (SBU) from July 2005 to August 2008. He also was assistant athletic director for operations at Abilene Christian University from August 2008 to May 2010.
Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with an emphasis in marketing and management from SBU in 2003. He earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from SBU in 2005. Davis was a member of the men's basketball team for the Bearcats.
Davis and his wife, Hannah, reside in Aberdeen with their son, Tate.
Mr. Zach Flakus
President and CEO, NSU Foundation
Zach Flakus is president and CEO of the NSU Foundation, a position he assumed in June 2021. He previously worked at Northern State University for 19 years in external development and athletic administration.
Flakus received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management and a master’s degree in technology and administration, both from Northern.
Flakus is involved in the Wolves Club, Royal Order of the Gyps, Central Boosters, Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau, Aberdeen First Church and New Life Church. Outside of work, he enjoys sporting events, arts and music, hunting, fishing, family, and fellowship.
Flakus and his wife, Amy (B.S. NSU), have four children: daughter, Mattison; and sons, Lincoln, Jake and Samson.
Mr. Marcus Garstecki
Chief Enrollment Management Officer
Marcus Garstecki serves as the chief enrollment management officer. Garstecki came to Northern in February 2023, and he oversees the office of admissions and the Enrollment Management Council.
Garstecki came to Northern from Presentation College, where he most recently served as the executive vice president for campus operations. In this role, he was responsible for student affairs, athletics, facilities, information technology, marketing, admissions, and financial aid. Prior to Presentation College, Garstecki was vice president for student affairs and enrollment at Dakota State University.
Garstecki earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1996 and a master of science degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2001. In 2019, he earned a Ph.D. in higher education leadership from Colorado State University.
A native of Beloit, Wis., Garstecki lives in Aberdeen with his wife, Kacie, and son, Jackson.
Ms. Veronica Paulson
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Veronica Paulson serves as Northern’s vice president for finance and administration and has worked at Northern for more than 30 years. Paulson attended the University of North Dakota for two years, then attended Northern for two years, graduating in 1985. From 1985 until 1991, she worked at Harlan W. Peterson & Co., which later become Levi, Engelhart, Wolff & Co. In 1991, Paulson earned a certificate of public accounting.
Outside of work, Paulson serves as a member of the finance committee and the bell choir at First United Methodist Church. Her hobbies include fishing; archery; hunting; sewing; needlework; walking with Willie, her family’s yellow Lab; baking; and flower gardening.
Paulson and her husband, Dick, have been married 39 years. Their oldest son, Adam, and wife, Brittney, live in Aberdeen with their daughter, Sydney, and son, Paul. They also have two friendly yellow labs, Milo and Otis. The Paulsons’ middle son, Eric, and his wife, Courtney, live in Pierre with their yellow Lab, Duke. Their youngest son, Carter, lives on his grandparent’s farm by Claremont with his wife, Courtney; their son, Jace; and their black Lab, Cash.
As apparent from the family’s collection of Labs, the Paulsons enjoy spending time outdoors and hunting. A favorite activity is getting together for a family pheasant hunt.