Ellen-Earle Chaffee has been president of Valley City State University since 1993. From 1993 until 2002, she was also president of Mayville State University, a unique arrangement that won the administrative leadership award from the American Association of University Administrators. The universities were among the first in the nation to integrate information technologies into the teaching and learning processes, in part by providing notebook computers to all students and faculty with network access to everyone in class and throughout the campus.

During her presidency, VCSU has been featured in three national studies of instructional innovation and three national feature stories (New York Times, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, and Computerworld), won five national awards, and received a number of highly competitive federal and foundation grants. Computerworld named Chaffee one of its Premier 100 IT Leaders. She has received state awards from the Information Technology Council of North Dakota, the Greater North Dakota Association, and Preservation North Dakota., as well as several local awards. VCSU has been a U.S. News top college for six straight years.

Dr. Chaffee has been national president of two major higher education associations (the Association for Institutional Research and the Association for the Study of Higher Education) and served nine years on the national accrediting board for pharmacy education Her previous positions were in research, state system academic affairs, student affairs, and equal opportunity. She has written five books and many articles on strategic management, quality, innovation, and leadership. She is frequently an invited speaker at local, regional, and national events. Her community service focuses on rural economic development. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration and policy analysis at Stanford University.