The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 23, 2013

MnScu plan shakes up education

Why it matters: Demand for education is rising while resources are tight

A new draft report on the future of the Minnesota State Colleges and University System offers bold suggestions for an educational system that certainly has scattered laboratories of enlightenment but still moves like an aircraft carrier.

Reading through the “Charting the Future” report summary one comes across some of the familiar educational themes like “best education” and “accessible to all” along with “high value” and “affordable.”

The bold and more interesting suggestions come with words like “relevancy” and phrases like “transformational management” and “strong collaborative leadership at all levels.”

MnScu Chancellor Steven Rosenstone commissioned three working groups to come up with suggestions for changing the behemoth educational system with dozens of campuses across the state in communities large and small. Importantly, he asked them to chart the future not from their positions representing a particular college, community or constituency but from the perspective of a “steward” of the entire system.

With such a charge, the hope was that fresh ideas would come forward. The groups delivered that to a reasonable degree. Some of the ideas will shake up the system and will likely be forcefully challenged by individual constituencies that cannot be underestimated. Every college, every community with a MnScu institution will clearly take notice if the draft report is taken seriously by Rosenstone and others.

Three working groups focused on education of the future, the system of the future and the workforce of the future. Former Minnesota State University provost and current president of Winona State University Scott Olson chaired the future of education working group. Joe Opatz, president of Normandale Community College led the system of the future group and Ron Thomas, president of Dakota County Technical College, led the workforce of the future group.

The working groups will take feedback from stakeholders and the public on the draft report and craft a final report to be delivered to Rosenstone in October.

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