Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Adopt Bold Strategies for Increasing Access, Affordability, and Excellence

Posted: November 20, 2013

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Strategic workgroups recommend significant collaboration among colleges and universities

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Board of Trustees of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities today voted to adopt a set of recommendations that call for the 31 colleges and universities to significantly increase collaboration to improve access, increase affordability and better serve students.

“Our colleges and universities are committed to providing access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans, to being the partner of choice to meet workforce and community needs across our state, and to delivering the highest value / most cost effective education in the state,” said MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. “To deliver on these commitments and effectively deal with the challenges facing higher education requires bold, new strategies and changing the way we work together. Forging deeper collaboration among our colleges and universities represents a tremendous opportunity for improving the way we serve students and communities across Minnesota.”

The six recommendations to increase access, affordability, excellence, and service by forging deeper collaboration and maximizing the collective strengths of MnSCU’s 31 colleges and universities are:

  1. Dramatically increase the success of all learners, especially those in diverse populations.
  2. Develop collaborative academic planning that advances affordability, transferability, and access.
  3. Certify student competencies and accelerate degree completion through credit for prior learning and competency-based credit and degrees.
  4. Expand the use of technology to deliver high quality online courses as well as technology enhanced instruction, student services, and individualized learning and advising.
  5. Deliver comprehensive workplace solutions to build employee skills and solve real-world problems for communities and businesses across the state.
  6. Redesign financial and administrative models to reward collaboration, drive efficiencies, and strengthen access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans.  

“Although higher education faces tremendous challenges, we also see tremendous opportunities for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities,” said Board of Trustees Chair Clarence Hightower, executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties. “The recommendations in ‘Charting the Future’ provide a blueprint for meeting these challenges and leveraging these opportunities to advance academic quality, student success, access, and affordability.”

“The collective ability of our colleges and universities to meet the future needs of the people of Minnesota depends upon how well we are able to balance the essential distinctive identities of our campuses with the power of synergy that comes through effective collaboration,” said Earl Potter, president of St. Cloud State University. “By focusing our collaborative efforts on the needs of students and employers in the regions that we serve, the sum of the parts will enhance the value of the whole.”

In November 2012, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Steven Rosenstone charged three workgroups – Education of the Future, Workforce of the Future, and System of the Future – comprising 46 students, faculty, staff, presidents, and trustees, to recommend ways for MnSCU colleges and universities to best contribute to Minnesota’s prosperity, taking into account changes in technology as well as the economic and demographic changes in the state. Each workgroup met eight to nine times between December 2012 and May 2013 and crafted the draft recommendations, which were presented to the Board of Trustees in June 2013. Over the subsequent five months, more than 5,400 students, faculty, and staff participated in 108 feedback sessions across the state. The workgroups reconvened in October 2013 to revise the draft report, drawing on many suggestions from the feedback sessions.

“Meeting the workforce needs of both rural Minnesota and the metro area is vital to our continued economic health,” said Trustee Alex Cirillo, retired 3M executive. “Increasing collaboration among our colleges and universities and deepening our partnerships with business and industry are keys to ensuring our academic programs are in alignment with the needs of each region of the state.”

“Changes in our students, changes in technology, and changes in the nature of work are all having a dramatic impact on how we educate our workforce,” said Trustee Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president and CEO of the Minnesota High Tech Association. “These recommendations present a vision for the future that will allow Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to thrive in this complex environment and continue driving Minnesota’s long-term economic vitality.”

The six recommendations are detailed in a white paper, Charting the Future for a Prosperous Minnesota, available at www.mnscu.edu/chartingthefuture.