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MnSCU focuses on collaboration

Facing historic cuts in state funding, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system has looked toward collaboration as a way to fulfill the goals of meeting student, community and state needs.

The MnSCU Board of Trustees recently adopted a set of recommendations to increase collaboration between its 31 institutions in the hopes of improving access, affordability and student service.

“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,” MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said. “Forging deeper collaboration among our colleges and universities represents a tremendous opportunity for improving the way we serve students and communities across Minnesota.”

Jim Johnson, Minnesota State College–Southeast Technical president, said more regional partnerships will develop as the push for collaboration continues.

“It’s really how we will survive into the future as we continue to see pressure on the state funding coming to our institutions,” he said.

State funding has dropped more than 25 percent since 2002 from 66 percent of the MnSCU budget to a little less than 40 percent, according to “Charting the Future for a Prosperous Minnesota,” a MnSCU report serving as the basis for the adopted recommendations.

The report states the decrease in state funding has increased institutions’ reliance on tuition and increased student debt, which in turn threatens the access and affordability for which the system strives.

With tuition becoming a larger and larger percentage of the schools’ revenue, the need to look across the system to increase efficiency has come to the forefront, Johnson said.

Even with the commitment to find alternative resources through collaboration, Johnson said he isn’t concerned about losing control at the local level. He added that he still feels he has the ability to deal with any issues Southeast Technical might face without going to the board.

Johnson said MnSCU is in a position where institutions need to leverage every dollar they have, and the report helps to put that into action.

Six-point approach

The Minnesota State Colleges and University system has six recommendations for increased collaboration:

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.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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