MPR News Intelligence on higher education
Just got this memo forwarded to me: Original Document (PDF) »
You may remember that earlier this week, the union representing faculty at state universities announced its opposition to a plan to overhaul how the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system does business.
Among other things, they said, it centralizes too much power at the central office, caters too much to business needs, and focuses too much on technical education at the expense of a liberal education.
In the memo above, Chancellor Steven Rosenstone now appears to be suggesting a revision of the report — at least its wording.
The main points he appears to stress:
We’ll have no increased centralization.
I was distressed to see your recommendation about statewide planning interpreted as campuses “yielding to central planners.” I do not want to see any of what we eventually implement leading toward more centralization or more system office control. I have stressed this conviction repeatedly over the past two years, and I hope that the final draft of your report will be another powerful statement of what I consider non-negotiable: the future we chart must be a collaborative future work together in new creative partnerships, not a future that leads to more power and control in the system office.”
We’ll respect union agreements.
I urge you to clarify statements made relative to bargaining agreements. I hope you will affirm our commitment to fully honor our collective bargaining agreements and recognize that, if they need to change, we would bring such proposals to the bargaining table and would negotiate changes in good faith. Regrettably, the language in the draft report has been interpreted by some as hostile to collective bargaining and to the bargaining units themselves.
We’re committed to our outstate Minnesota campuses.
Along with not seeing the mission of rural colleges and universities strongly represented in the initial draft, some believe the language implies we should retreat from our historic commitment to access for all Minnesotans. The challenge, as I see it, is to identify the strategies for ensuring that we meet our commitment to all Minnesotans. I would urge that the final draft clarify that turning our back on some communities is not the path you are recommending.
We’re still educating the whole person.
(Rosenstone appears to be emphasizing that MnSCU students receive a well-rounded education, as opposed to a purely technical or narrowly focused one geared toward the job market.)
(Remind) readers of the commitment we have made to the kind of education envisioned in Board Policy 3.36: The academic programs of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities should prepare graduates for work, life, and citizenship. Academic programs should create graduates who are creative, innovative, and able to respond with agility to new ideas, new technologies, and new global relationships. Graduates should be able to lead their professions and adapt to the multiple careers they will have over their lifetimes. Graduates should have the ability to think independently and critically; be able to resourcefully apply knowledge to new problems; proactively expect the unexpected, embrace change and be comfortable with ambiguity; and be able to communicate and work effectively across cultural and geographic boundaries.
I’m interested to see how the final report looks.