Wayzata School Board Candidate: Dan Haugen

Patch talks with the candidates running for office in the 2013 Wayzata School Board election.

There are nine candidates for three open seats on the Wayzata School Board this year. Below you will find the candidate biography for Dan Haugen. (All candidates were contacted by Patch via email and given the chance to answer the same questions.)


What previous political experience do you have (including other governmental positions you’ve held, whether elected, appointed or volunteer)?

My professional roles have consistently found me working closely with units of government and elected city, county and, occasionally, state and federal officials.  This is particularly true of my roles as President of the Adler Graduate School and President/Executive Director of the Neighborhood Involvement Program.  As such, my professional roles have prepared m well for elected office.  I have also been asked on two occasions – in 1996 and 1998 – to run for office in the Minnesota House of Representatives.  I declined, saying that I would like to gather more experience before seeking office.  Now, at age 58, I believe I am well-prepared.

Additional volunteer roles include:

• Member, Richfield Community Council, 2006 to present.  Co-Chairperson, 2010 to present.

• Recodification Advisory Task Force, Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health, 1995.

What other relevant experience do you have?

Professional Experience:

• President, Adler Graduate School (AGS), Richfield, Minnesota, Current -- AGS provides graduate-level educational programs for a diverse student body of over 500 students and oversees the Jim Ramstad Community Service Center.

• Among other administrative duties, I have also served the Adler Graduate School as Academic Vice President, Resource Development Coordinator, Director of the Office of Assessment and Self Study Coordinator.

• Core Faculty Member, Adler Graduate School, Richfield, Minnesota, 1988 to present.

• President/Executive Director, Neighborhood Involvement Program, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 1989 to June 2006.

• I have also served the Neighborhood Involvement Programs as Director of its Counseling Center.

• Published children’s author – "Staarabu Was Wise, Anana Was Gentle," a children’s book published with Beaver’s Pond Press, 2010.

• Graduate research fellow, National Institute of Justice, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., October 1982 to June 1985. 

• I have also served the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Clinical Professor, Lecturer and Teaching Associate/Assistant.

• I have served as a counseling professional in several organizations serving the mental health needs of both youth and adults.

• I have taught many undergraduate-level and graduate-level courses.  Those that are perhaps most pertinent to the needs of children and families and a leadership role within Wayzata Public Schools have focused on Human Growth and Development, Mental Health, Organizational Development and Professional Ethics – which I taught for 20 years.

Community Involvement/Volunteer Experience:


• Coach, youth athletic teams (principally baseball, basketball and football), Plymouth and Wayzata, Minnesota, 1993 to present.

Community Boards

• Board Director, Learning Disabilities Association – Minnesota (LDA Minnesota, Inc.), 2007 to present – served as President 2009 – 2011.

• Board Director, Personal Energy Transportation MN-TWIN CITIES (PETMN-TWIN CITIES), 2012 to present.

• Member, Richfield Community Council, 2006 to present.  Co-Chairperson, 2010 to present.

• Board Director, Steeple People's Surplus Store, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1996 to 2000.

• HandyWorks Advisory Committee, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, 1995 to 2001.

United Way – Minneapolis/Greater Twin Cities Area

• Board Director, March 1995 to March 1997.

• Member, Health and Independence Committee, 2006 to 2008.

• Community Services Division Committee, 1999 to early 2000s.

• Management Committee, Health Care Initiative, December 1995 to 1997.

• President, Council of Agency Executives, March 1995 to March 1996.

• Vice President - Marketing, Council of Agency Executives, March 1994 to March 1995.

• Executive Committee, Council of Agency Executives, Various times during the 1990s and 2000s.

Other Community Involvement/Volunteer Experience

•  Co-Coordinator, Families Moving Forward, Robbinsdale United Church of Christ, 2010 to present.

• Have also served Robbinsdale United Church of Christ in a variety of other lay leadership roles since 1983.

• Food Service, Simpson Housing Services Incorporated, 2010 to present.

• Advisory Committee, St. Mary's College Graduate School, Counseling Psychology Program, December 1995 to present.

• Godchild Project, Antigua, Guatemala, 1998.

• Recodification Advisory Task Force, Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health, 1995.

• Volunteers in Prevention, Eau Claire County Department of Social Services, August 1974 to September 1977.

What is your occupation?

President, Adler Graduate School (AGS), Richfield, Minnesota, Current – AGS provides graduate-level educational programs for a diverse student body of over 500 students and oversees the Jim Ramstad Community Service Center.

Where did you go to school? 

PhD -- University of Minnesota (1985); MS -- UW Madison (1978); BA -- UW Eau Claire (1977)

What city within the Wayzata School District do you live in?

Plymouth for 26 years

How old are you? 


Do you have a spouse, children or any other family members you’d like to tell voters about? 

Wife -- Karrie (Married 36 years); Children -- Katie (30), Aaron (27), Taylor (16); Grandchildren – Ava (3)

What are your campaign goals?

I will creatively serve Wayzata Public Schools in areas that include:

• The rapidly increasing size of our student population and the schools serving our students must be carefully managed.  More specifically, we must be both thoughtful and creative as we develop and utilize our buildings, as we establish the geographic areas from which individual schools draw students, and, most importantly, as we serve each and every student in an individualized manner. 

• Our resources are abundant, but ultimately finite.  Remain creative and wise as we balance fiscal prudence and our obligations to accommodate rapidly maturing educational strategies/technologies, and shifting student, family and community needs.

• Address achievement gaps that persist between groups of students.

• Evaluate school start-time options as we seek to optimize students’ academic success.

• Build upon data-driven, assessment strategies as we seek continuous improvement in teaching and learning.

• Expand students’ opportunities for community service – match our District’s reputation for academic excellence with a reputation for community service.

• Expand students’ opportunities to develop leadership skills and an understanding of their obligations as citizens.

• Treat the growing diversity of our student body as an extraordinary learning opportunity for all students and staff

• For the most part, students attending Wayzata Schools are thriving.  However, all districts and the students they serve have growing edges.  At best, intelligence and academic success are complemented by other developmental assets.  For example, one asset that will serve to complement our students’ intelligence and academic excellence – an asset that we can objectively help them develop – is a clear understanding of the life model that would help them in setting specific goals, in establishing clear plans for pursuing those goals and in developing the work ethic that supports goal achievement.

What issues are you most focused on?

The campaign goals identified above are directly related to issues I consider important.  I have been in the education and human services fields for 40 years.  After all that time, not surprisingly, there are many issues I believe to be of critical importance – even as they relate to our already excellent Wayzata School District.  As examples of the way I think about issues, I have provided some thoughts and ideas concerning three issues: 1) The increasing size of the Wayzata School District; 2) The increasing diversity of our District; 3)Community Service and Academic Excellence; 4) School start-times.  For additional information concerning thoughts and ideas I have concerning critical issues, I invite readers to visit the Plymouth Patch blog I am currently developing.

1.     Increasing size of the Wayzata School District

Although I clearly favor comparatively small learning environments, if the size of the individual schools within our District continues to increase, it is important that we carefully manage this increasing size.  In fact, some might say our expanding size, as defined by our student population and schools, can even be treated as an asset. 

By any standard, we are a large District.  As such, I have ideas I believe will add value, whether we downsize or continue to increase the size of our schools. For example, if we do continue to increase the size of our existing schools, I believe our large numbers can effectively be analogized to a small town.  We can use this analogy as we imaginatively work with each and every student. 

Strategies for working with students in comparatively large learning environments include:

• Creatively adapt and organize physical plants and group students so that close relationships among students and teachers are maximized.

• Make use of developing technologies for pinpointing students experiencing “trouble spots”.

• Train teachers as “first responders” with students experiencing serious trouble academically, emotionally and/or behaviorally.

• Expand student support services – school counseling and other services that support students’ academic success.

•  Supplement teacher and student services resources with expanded opportunities for adult volunteers.

• Utilize students as peer mentors at all levels; especially at the high school level.

• Treat the growing diversity of our student body as an extraordinary learning opportunity for all students and staff.

1.     Increasing diversity in the Wayzata School System

I am convinced the increasing diversity of Wayzata Public Schools’ student, family, faculty and staff populations is a tremendous asset for all District residents.  More specifically, I believe our increasing diversity constitutes an extraordinary learning opportunity – for students and staff in the context of District schools, and for all of us in the context of community education.

If one is willing to define diversity in the broadest sense – including, but not confined to, racial and ethnic diversity – the learning opportunities growing out of our growing diversity are staggering.  For example, as we follow through on our obligation to prepare our increasingly diverse students, each of whom has increasingly diverse life objectives, for service to an increasingly diverse community, I believe we also have the rare opportunity to be an educational leader in this regard. 

I would like to contribute to this important enterprise.

2.     Community service and Academic Excellence

Just as I believe our District can lead as it concerns the learning opportunities growing out of our increasing diversity, I am convinced Wayzata Public Schools can become just as well known for its commitment to community service as we are already known for our academic excellence – and what a wonderful reputation that would be. 

It is my understanding that 25% of our students already participate actively in our community as volunteers – and that is extraordinary.  However, I do believe a much higher percentage of students can be inspired to serve the community.  We can build upon a District culture where service is the norm – even incentivized and expected – and, in the process, even better prepare our students for post-secondary education and future life roles. 

I have a great deal of experience in the non-profit world and volunteerism, in general, and I believe I can contribute to the expansion of service opportunities and, ultimately, the service-oriented reputation of students and staff associated with Wayzata Public Schools.

3.     School Start-times

I am very interested in assisting our District in its review of school start-times.  I believe I can constructively contribute to a thoughtful, well-informed review process that includes abundant input from all stakeholders, including students, parents, instructors and school administrators.

Changes in high school start-times have successfully been made in Edina and Minneapolis.  In fact, our own University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) has studied the results of these changes.  As such, ample data are available for review.  I believe my professional background prepares me well for such a thoughtful, balanced review.

I have been in higher education settings that train human service professionals – including professionals who serve children – for 30 years.  I have also been part of agencies that serve children and families for 40 years.  During this time, our health care and educational fields have learned at least two things that are germane to school start-times.  

First, we know school-age children and adolescents need as much sleep as very young children and the elderly.  Second, we also know that reasonable start-times contribute positively to academic success and, just as importantly, help to avoid the sleep deprivation that is highly correlated with a host of conditions that prevent academic success. 

Sound arguments for later start-times are presently being made by groups such as The National Sleep Foundation and experts such as Dr. Mary A. Carskadon, one of the nation’s leading experts on children and adolescent sleep needs and the effects of sleep deprivation, who has stated, "Given that the primary focus of education is to maximize human potential, then a new task before us is to ensure that the conditions in which learning takes place address the very biology of our learners."

I have taught human development at both undergraduate and graduate levels and, as a result, I am well aware of the fact that both our health care and educational fields have clearly understood the sleep needs of children and adolescents for decades.  In fact, I doubt any reputable pediatrician would dispute either the research confirming the sleep needs of children and adolescents or the importance of reasonable school start-times. 

Likewise, reasonable people have also identified significant logistical challenges surrounding later start-times.  For example, concerns have been raised relating to factors such as extra-curricular activities, bus schedules, part-time work schedules and child care.

In closing, I am very familiar with a group of Wayzata School District parents who are constructively endeavoring to raise awareness concerning start-times in Wayzata Public Schools.  I am also well aware of the complications associated with adapting start-times.  Although the science-based part of the start-time issue is largely uncomplicated, the logistical considerations related to adapted start-times present complications.  Once again, I believe my well-rounded background allows me to constructively contribute to our District’s thoughtful review of this important, start-time issue. 

Why should voters choose you?

My background prepares me to contribute to the ongoing development of an excellent School District.  I have served the needs of children and families for 40 years; since age 19 when I served as a mentor for adolescents in Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system.  I have maintained this commitment throughout my adult life.  In fact, I have consciously taken on personal and professional responsibilities that would one day prepare me for public service.  Now, at 58, with a deep foundation of skills and experiences, I believe it is time for me to serve our District.  My reason for seeking election is clear. I am not seeking an office or title – merely an opportunity to serve our community. 

I place great importance on serving one’s community and believe every citizen should take advantage of the opportunities they are given to serve.  I consistently serve with integrity and honesty; striving to address issues and challenges with fiscal prudence and an inclusive, non-partisan orientation.  Elected officials must listen, communicate and, ultimately, build consensus.  They must be smart but, more importantly, wise in their deliberations.  The public’s trust is sacred and must always be respected. 

In my professional life, I have directed higher education and health care/human service organizations for 25 years.  Currently, I serve as President of the Adler Graduate School (www.alfredadler.edu), which owns and oversees the Jim Ramstad Community Service Center.  Together with these leadership roles, I have taught both undergraduate and graduate-level courses for 30 years and have also published children’s literature.  

In my personal life, I have coached youth sports in Plymouth and Wayzata for 20 years.  I have also served and continue to serve on numerous non-profit and community boards and councils, and have volunteered in numerous other community organizations. 

My wife and I have already guided two adult children through Wayzata Public Schools and college, and our third child is currently enrolled in Wayzata High School.  As 26-year residents of Plymouth, each of our children has benefited greatly from Wayzata Schools, for which we are grateful.

I have taken the time to speak with and get to know several current School Board Members and our Superintendent and believe I will effectively complement them and the important work they are doing. I sincerely believe I can contribute to Wayzata Public Schools in a variety of ways.

Among the extraordinary people I have met who are seeking election to the Wayzata School Board, others may be smarter than me.  I can’t know that.  However, I am quite sure my foundation of leadership and educational experiences is second to none.  What’s more, I am certain, I will not be outworked, if given the opportunity to serve.

In closing, I am reminded of something my now 30-year-old daughter once told her Sunset Hill Elementary School kindergarten teacher when asked – at age 5 – what her father did for a living.  Katie amused her teacher when she replied, “I think my daddy is a doctor, just not the kind that does anybody any good”.  I have told that story many times and, inevitably, people find it funny – but it has also inspired me over the years. Now, 25 years later, I would like to serve Wayzata Public Schools and, in the process, honor my daughter’s challenge and “do someone some good."  


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