Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes
Thursday, May 22, 1997

Minnesota Club
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Trustees Present: Archie D. Chelseth, Dennis Dotson, Robert Erickson, Stephen L. Maxwell, Gary Mohrenweiser, Denise Stephens, William Ulland, Michael Vekich

Trustees Absent: Nancy Brataas, Kathleen Caffey, David Erickson, Christine Fritsche, Randall Knudson, William Smoley

MSU-Akita/Others Present: Provost, MSU-Akita Campus, John Norris; Kenichi Ito, mayor, Yuwa-Town; Shun Sasaki, speaker of the city assembly, Yuwa-Town; Masahiko Sato, parent of a student at MSU-Akita and president of the parents' association; Rikio Suzuki, head of the Entity; and Kaoru Thompson (interpreter)


  1. Call to Order/Introductions
    Chair Ulland called the meeting of the Board of Trustees to order at 1:00 p.m., on Thursday, May 22, 1997, in the Minnesota Club, Ramsey Room, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    Provost Norris introduced Kenichi Ito, mayor, Yuwa-Town; Kaoru Thompson (interpreter), Shun Sasaki, speaker of the city assembly, Yuwa-Town; Masahiko Sato, parent of a student at MSU-Akita and president of the parents' association; and Rikio Suzuki, head of the Yuwa-team.
  2. Brief Greeting by Mayor Ito
    Mayor Ito commented that he was happy to be here and pleased to have the opportunity to address the board. Since MSU-Akita began eight years ago, 100 students have graduated and 277 students are studying in Minnesota. The graduate students are in many different fields both here and in Japan, representing a truly unique international exchange.

    Mayor Ito explained that MSU-Akita is not without problems. MSU-Akita is unable to attract many Japanese students because it is not accredited by the Japanese government. Only those Japanese students who have graduated from an accredited institution are able to secure jobs. Another problem is Japan's slowing economy and the need to increase tuition rates. And finally, while MSU-Akita attracts capable students, many have dropped out. Plans are underway for MSU-Akita to apply for accreditation so students will have credits for their studies. Mayor Ito commented that he hoped the application meets with success so MSU-Akita and Minnesota and Japan can continue their international relations.

    Positive developments for the success of MSU-Akita include an airport expansion at Yuwa-Town, making it possible for future direct flights between Akita and Minneapolis. Also, in 1999, an agriculture research center will start in Akita City. This will be one of the best research centers in Japan, and they are hoping to recruit a researcher from Minnesota.

    Another development is a sight-seeing exchange with Tourism Friendship Hall and St. Cloud, Minnesota. Minnesota products are on display at the Tourism Friendship Hall and the program will promote and strengthen the relationship between MSU-Akita and Minnesota.

    Mayor Ito extended greetings to Chair Ulland, Chancellor Eaton, Trustee Mohrenweiser and Trustee Dotson who visited the MSU-Akita campus and he invited them, and the other trustees, to visit it again.
  3. Brief Greeting by Chancellor Eaton
    Chancellor Eaton welcomed the visitors. She commented that it was a pleasure to meet Mayor Ito, last year, and to visit the MSU-Akita campus and Yuwa-Town. MnSCU is very pleased and proud of its relationship with MSU-Akita and Yuwa-Town and looking forward to a very productive meeting.
  4. Brief Greeting by Board Chair Ulland
    Chair Ulland reported that on May 25, 1989, MnSCU signed an agreement that began a pioneering experiment in higher education and international relationships. Since then, there have been many challenges and now there are new challenges before us. It is important to get together as partners and as friends to explore ways to move forward with this very important enterprise.

    Chair Ulland remarked that he has visited MSU-Akita twice, and dined in Mayor Ito's home during his last visit. Chair Ulland welcomed MnSCU's Japanese colleagues, and commented that he looked forward to constructive discussions and decisions in how to go forward in this important enterprise.

    Trustees Robert Erickson, Gary Mohrenweiser, Dennis Dotson, Stephen Maxwell and Archie D. Chelseth welcomed and introduced themselves to the visitors. Trustees Denise Stephens and Michael Vekich arrived later in the meeting and were introduced at that time. Chair Ulland introduced Chancellor-designate Morrie Anderson and explained that he will begin his duties July 1, 1997. Mr. Anderson, currently chief of staff for Governor Carlson, welcomed the visitors and extended greetings from the governor.

    Audience members introduced themselves: Dave Abel, president, Inter Faculty Organization; Alexander Nadeson, faculty member, Bemidji State University; Gunnar Wickstrom, director of communications, Inter Faculty Organization; Laura King, Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, MnSCU; Frank Viggiano, executive director, Minnesota State University Student Association; Donald Lannoye, student body president, Moorhead State University; and Russ Lunak, professor, Northwestern College.

    Provost Norris reported that about one month ago, Allen Costantini, a reporter for KARE-11 Television Station, visited the MSU-Akita campus and prepared a video report that will be broadcast this evening, May 22, 1997, on the 10:00 p.m. news.
  5. Brief Review of Important Features of the 25-Year Agreement between MSUS and Yuwa-Town
    Provost Norris reviewed the agreement between Yuwa-Town and MSUS, now MnSCU, dated May 25, 1989. An amendment was added in 1993 whereby MSUS will bear 100 percent of the cost related to American student recruitment, instructional personnel cost of the Japan Area Studies Department, and 80 percent of the American student room and board subsidy. The basic principle in the agreement is that MSUS will provide the academic programs and administrative services for MSU-Akita. Yuwa is responsible for the financial aspect of the campus. A group called the "Entity" was established in the agreement. Headed by Rikio Suzuki, the Entity is the Japanese side of MSU-Akita and is responsible for the assessment of fees and billing to the Japanese students, takes care of the facilities, including housing for faculty members. Another major feature of the agreement is that Yuwa must establish an endowment of about $7 million dollars. There has been some progress but the endowment is not complete. Yuwa and MnSCU will work together to establish an annual budget. By law, Minnesota cannot commit state appropriated funds to the operation of MSU-Akita except for programs that are offered to Minnesota students who are participating in the programs. It is the intention of the agreement for MSU-Akita to be self-supporting through the tuition generated by the students and other resources that are gathered by the Entity or other factors.

    The agreement predated the campus, which was started in May of 1990. Parts of the agreement are out of date. Provost Norris suggested that the wording in the agreement be reworked to reflect the campus and he offered to work with Mr. Suzuki and the Entity to draft an updated agreement for presentation to the Board of Trustees at a later date. Examples of updates to the agreement are the establishment of English as a second language program and reductions in the enrollment projections.
  6. Current Status of the Program
    A. Japanese Students
    Mr. Suzuki reported that MSU-Akita has already started to recruit Japanese students for April, 1998. Recruitment of Japanese students is difficult because MSU-Akita is not considered a regular Japanese college. In 1994, 174 students applied and 154 were accepted and 139 actually enrolled. This spring, 1997, there were 125 applicants, 113 were accepted and 100 have enrolled. Mr. Suzuki said the goal is to reach 150 enrolled Japanese students.

    Japanese students have transferred to the following six universities: St. Cloud State; Winona State; Mankato State; Moorhead State; Bemidji State; and Southwest State. In 1990, 115 Japanese students were enrolled, but each subsequent year has seen a decline in enrollment. From 1990 through 1995, a total of 277 Japanese students were enrolled; 98 of them graduated. Of the 98 graduates, 50 obtained employment , 15 continued their education and 33 were still seeking employment as of March 31, 1997.

    Japanese universities operate on an April through March calendar. All recruitment efforts are for April 1. Japanese laws prohibit MSU-Akita from actively recruiting at any other time. The fact that MSU-Akita is not considered a "regular" Japanese college is because it is not recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Monbusho. MSU-Akita is fully accredited by the North Central Accreditation Association in the United States, and that is recognized in Japan. The Board of Trustees authorized MSU-Akita to pursue Monbusho recognition, and the application process will go forward as long as it does not jeopardize MSU-Akita's North Central Accreditation.

    Provost Norris explained that in 1990 there were over 40 American institutions operating in Japan; today, there are five left. The boom economy of 1990 has ended and Japan is in a recession. The five American institutions are: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Temple University, Lakeland College, University of Nevada-Reno, and MSU-Akita, which has the largest number of American students.

    B. International Students
    MSU-Akita currently has 27 international, or American, students. The students come from MnSCU institutions. Traditionally, spring enrollment is low. In the fall, there will be about 50 students. MSU-Akita hopes to reach 150 international students in the future. Provost Norris commented that at a time when it is difficult for graduates of Japanese institutions to find jobs, that he was pleased with the rate at which MSU-Akita students are finding jobs, and they are good jobs. They are also being accepted at prestigious graduate schools.

    Provost Norris reported that Dr. Karin Treiber, director, MSU-Akita support office, was recently hired. Nancy Pleiss is the administrative assistant and works closely with Dr. Treiber and Bruce Holzschuh is the full-time recruiter, who is on the road nearly 95 percent of the time. MSU-Akita has 29 full-time faculty, four administrators, five support staff, six clerical and one librarian. The Entity has about 15 individuals.

    Responding to a question about criticisms of the campus, Dr. Norris reported that transportation to Yuwa-Town is one complaint, and another is that the food does not taste like it does in Minnesota.

    C. Financial Picture/Budget
    To date, MSU-Akita has received over $19,000,000 in support for start-up costs. Cumulative funds received from Akita prefecture, Yuwa-Town, and other cities and towns to a date are: land and buildings $5,000,000, books $500,000, computers $100,000 and operational funds $6,000,000.

    The annual budget is slightly more than $7,000,000. MnSCU's funding for the current year is approximately $700,000, and the rest is from tuition, subsidies from Yuwa-Town and gifts to the campus.

    Although, the situation is changing, Japanese corporations do not have a concept of philanthropy that is similar to corporate philanthropy in the United States. For this year's budget, Provost Norris and Mayor Ito will work to raise $300,000 from Japanese corporations and individuals.

    With the current enrollment of 40-45 students, cost per student is between $15,000 - $16,000 per year. Increasing enrollment is one way to reduce the cost per student. This can include recruiting out-of-state students or private school students. MSU-Akita has been operating on a planned deficit since it began. For this year, the deficit is about $500,000, while the accumulated deficit is about $2,000,000.

    Mayor Ito suggested that MSU-Akita recruit more students, balance the student/faculty ratio, and reduce the dropout rate.
  7. MSU-Akita's Five-year Plan
    A. Major Features
    Provost Norris highlighted points in MSU-Akita's 1997-2001: A Plan for Success, and is a result of Chancellor Eaton's visit last summer. The key issue for the institution's survival is to increase the number of students. If MnSCU achieves Monbusho recognition, it will open the door for more Japanese students.

    B. Monbusho Recognition
    MSU-Akita's goal is to apply for Monbusho recognition in September 1998. Applications can only be submitted in September of every given year and it takes 18 months for the application to be processed. At the time of application, MSU-Akita must identify its curriculum, list all its programs and faculty, have funds on hand to run its programs for two years, meaning MSU-Akita will need to set aside between $13 and $14 million dollars. If Monbusho accepts the application, there is a strong chance for success. No other institution outside Japan has accreditation from Monbusho. Monbusho recognition will increase student enrollment, raise the quality of students, and allow MSU-Akita to receive a per capita subsidy from the state.

    C. Relations with Other Akita Institutions
    A significant benefit to other MSU-Akita institutions is the opportunity for students to enrich their educational experience by studying abroad. Students who study abroad gain a unique insight into another culture.
  8. MSU-Akita's Importance to Minnesota's Economic Future
    A. Minnesota/Japan Trade
    Minnesota's number one trading partner is Canada, and Japan is second. Future citizens who have an understanding of the Asian world will help Minnesota's economic future. MSU-Akita is critical for the future of trade and economic development with Japan.

    B. Facilitation of Trade Missions (JETRO Local to Local)
    Japan External Trade Organization has created a program called "Local to Local" which matches Akita businesses with Minnesota businesses to create links between Akita and Minnesota. Provost Norris cited one link where two companies have linked and built homes in the Akita prefecture using Minnesota products and Minnesota carpenters. Strong possibilities for other links are in wood products and electronics.

    C. Economic Impact of Japanese Students
    There is an economic impact when Japanese students matriculate at Minnesota institutions. They purchase vehicles, shop, fly our airlines, etc.

    D. MSU-Akita's Importance to MnSCU

    MSU-Akita offers a unique opportunity for MnSCU students, who will become our future leaders.
  9. Annual Meeting
    Provost Norris proposed an annual meeting every other year in one country or the other.
  10. Other Issues
    Mayor Ito summarized that the key to MSU-Akita's future lies in obtaining Monbusho recognition. Monbusho recognition is not easy to obtain, but the Japanese Ministry of Education recognizes the growing number of foreign students in Japan. This would have a great impact on higher education between Japan and the United States. Other needs are to balance the ratio of faculty to students and develop a curriculum. Yuwa-Town and the prefecture of Akita have already begun planning to submit the Monbusho application for accreditation.

    Mayor Ito thanked the Board of Trustees for their understanding, cooperation and continued support.
  11. Adjournment
    Chair Ulland thanked the visitors for their great contribution and commitment to higher education. He also thanked them for the frank discussions and announced that he and the Board of Trustees were looking forward to a continued collaboration with all the parties.

    Chancellor Eaton thanked Chair Ulland for the valuable meeting, and also thanked Provost Norris for his leadership, vision, energy and dedication to the campus.

    The meeting adjourned at 4:05 p.m.

William Ulland, Chair - Board of Trustees
Recorded by Inge Chapin
June 9, 1997 (4:13pm)