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Frequently Asked Questions

Update 9/18/2014: Thanks for all of your thoughtful questions and submissions to MyIdeas@so.mnscu.edu! We have begun to compile your ideas to forward to the implementation teams. Please scroll down for some new answers.


1. What is Charting the Future?

Charting the Future is a strategic effort to help Minnesota realize a prosperous future through three commitments:

  • Ensuring access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans;
  • Being the partner of choice to meet Minnesota’s workforce and community needs; and
  • Delivering to students, employers, communities and taxpayers the highest value, most affordable higher education option

2. What will actually change with  Charting the Future?

  • Charting the Future is about changing how we work. Currently, our colleges and universities are working very hard, but they are working in siloes. Charting the Future is about encouraging collaboration among existing schools to better prepare our students for success and achieving a more prosperous Minnesota.
  • Charting the Future is not about opening or closing any campuses.

    Charting the Future is about encouraging collaboration among existing schools to better prepare our students for success and achieving a more prosperous Minnesota.

  • Charting the Future is not about centralization, making the system office bigger or more powerful, or becoming metro-centric.

    Charting the Future is an effort outlined in the recommendations and strategies for helping the entire state of Minnesota.

  • Charting the Future is not about offering more online courses at the detriment of existing courses, and is not the priority of our recommendations.

    Charting the Future is about expanding the innovative use of technology not simply expanding the number of online courses. Innovative technology can be creatively and effectively used to expand access to higher education and flexibility in our offerings.

  • Charting the Future is not about devaluing traditional academic degrees.

    Charting the Future is about exploring alternate ways to earn college credit, such as competency based credit. However, failure to consider new options may drive students to other institutions once third parties start to certify competency degrees that are recognized nationally.


3. How will MnSCU realize the strategic commitments of  Charting the Future?

Charting the Future proposes six recommendations that will be implemented throughout MnSCU’s 30 colleges and universities. In order to ensure a more prosperous future, we must:

  • Dramatically increase the success of all learners, especially those in diverse populations traditionally underserved by higher education.
  • Develop a collaborative and coordinated academic planning process that advances affordability, transferability and access to our programs and services across the state.
  • Certify student competencies and capabilities, expand pathways to accelerate degree completion through credit for prior learning, and foster the award of competency-based credit and degrees.
  • Expand the innovative use of technology to deliver high quality online courses, strengthen classroom instruction and student services, and provide more individualized learning and advising.
  • Work together under new models to be the preferred provider of comprehensive workplace solutions through programs and services that build employee skills and solve real-world problems for communities and businesses across the state.
  • Redesign our financial and administrative models to reward collaboration, drive efficiencies, and strengthen our ability to provide access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans.

4. How will these recommendations be implemented?

The recommendations will be translated into action plans by eight implementation teams. Each implementation team is a campus-led group that will outline and prioritize what work needs to be done to execute these strategies and determine when and how to start rolling out new ideas.

5. What are the implementation teams responsible for?

Each team is responsible for translating the recommendations into an action plan, which includes:

  • Involving all faculty, students, staff, and the broader community in the process
  • Identifying how to meet the team’s goals and objectives
  • Determining how to stage and sequence the work, e.g. recommending changes to policy and procedures, launching pilots
  • Providing leadership, coordination, and tracking of project implementation
  • Monitoring and reporting progress to the Steering Committee (see description of the Steering Committee below)

Communicating the work of the implementation teams is a high priority. There will be regular updates on the progress of the teams so that everyone is informed and involved in the process.

The implementation teams are not intended in any way to supplant or circumvent existing consultation processes (e.g., ASA’s Policy Council or statewide meet and confers).


6. Who are on the implementation teams?

Each implementation team is convened by a college or university president (with the one exception of the Systems Design team) and includes campus representation of students, faculty, staff and members of the Charting the Future Organizational Capability team (see detail below).

The conveners for the four teams launching in spring 2014 are:

  • Student Success: Connie Gores, Southwest Minnesota State University
  • Diversity: Scott Olson, Winona State University
  • Comprehensive Workplace Solutions: Sue Collins, Northeast Higher Education District
  • System Incentives and Rewards: Phil Davis, Campus Service Cooperative

The conveners for the four teams launching in fall 2014 are:

  • Academic Planning and Collaboration: Dick Hanson, Bemidji State University
  • Competency Certification & Credit for Prior Learning: Annette Parker, South Central College
  • Education Technology: Ron Anderson, Century College
  • Information Technology Systems Design: Ramon Padilla, Chief Information Officer

Students, faculty, and staff were involved in drafting and finalizing the Charting the Future strategic plan and recommendations, which led to the formation of implementation teams. Each team is planned with a variety of considerations, including faculty and student availability. Bargaining units will appoint representatives for each team.

The teams will be comprised of members from each internal stakeholder group. Teams will number up to 18 members, with about three quarters of the members from our college and university campuses and one quarter from the system office, as follows.

  • Students: MSUSA and MSCSA (2)
  • Faculty: IFO, MSCF, MSUAASF (3)
  • Staff: MMA, MAPE and AFSCME (3)
  • Presidents (2)
  • Additional campus staff (up to 4)
  • System office staff (up to 4)

7. What support will implementation teams have?

Implementation teams will be supported by a campus-led Organizational Capability Team made up of two groups

  • Implementation support: Campus representatives responsible for facilitating Implementation team discussions (agendas, identification of open questions, etc.)
  • Core team: Campus representatives responsible for providing project management, capability building, and communications and engagement support across teams

8. Who is on the Steering Committee and what is its role?

The Steering Committee plays an important role in ensuring the success of the Charting the Future recommendations. The Steering Committee will support and ensure high level of coordination across Implementation Teams, provide guidance on difficult issues, and help to remove barriers to success. In addition, the Steering Committee will play an advisor role in policy matters and an advocate role for Charting the Future. The Steering Committee will have up to 18 members, including Chancellor Rosenstone, the 8 conveners of the Implementation Teams, students, faculty, campus staff members, and presidents on the Leadership Council. They will be supported by administrative staff.

9. What happens if the MSCSA or MSUSA student appointee cannot attend a meeting?

We understand that students must juggle academic, workplace and family responsibilities. If the student appointee cannot attend, an alternate student (named by the student association) can attend in their place. This would ensure that the student perspective is present in all team discussions. In any case, either the convener or one of the two organizational capability team members (two campus individuals supporting the work of each team) will follow-up with the student within two days of the missed meeting to recap team discussions and next steps. Conveners will be sensitive to the need for student voices to be heard and check-in with students on a regular basis to make sure that they are comfortable with their role and answer any questions.

10. Are team members compensated for their work?

Only student appointees will receive appropriate stipends. Discussions with the student associations are underway to determine the best way to distribute these funds.

11. How will meetings be determined?

Specific meeting dates and times will be decided upon by the team and based on availability of team members.

12. How will campus communities be engaged in the work of the teams?

We are committed to providing multiple channels for students to stay engaged and involved in the work of the teams. Whether it's through the Charting the Future website, e-mails to MyIdeas@so.mnscu.edu, or #ChartingTheFuture, the work of the teams will be transparent and, students, faculty, and staff have an opportunity to share ideas, suggestions or concerns.


13. How can I get involved?

Your regular feedback is important to ensure the teams are prioritizing the right work and delivering on the goals set forth. We welcome and encourage honest questions, constructive feedback, and stories of great campus work via MyIdeas@so.mnscu.edu. This FAQ section is dynamic and updated regularly based on the questions and suggestions we receive in your emails and other conversations.

We will share additional details on future ways to be involved once implementation teams have started meeting.

14. What kind of feedback should I submit?

We encourage 1) your questions, concerns, ideas, and suggestions and 2) your personal examples of success stories via the email MyIdeas@so.mnscu.edu.

Charting the Future builds on pockets of collaboration experienced throughout the system. Here is a representative example:

  • The presidents of St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical and Community College over the past few years have worked together bringing their teams together and sharing ideas and resources, including telephone services and campus cards, purchasing of hardware and software, sports facilities and library materials, safety and emergency services. Now they are collaborating around academic programs and allowing students to easily transfer between the university and community college so each student develops the necessary skill set to succeed. St. Cloud State was facing a significant challenge: some students who were being admitted to the university were not prepared for success in a 4-year program. They were giving up, dropping out, and often never returning. St. Cloud State provided an innovative solution – what President Joyce Helens calls “a well-lighted path,” also known as the Community College Connection Program. Students are admitted to St. Cloud State, where they live in the residence halls, and they take courses on the university campus. But students that need help to succeed take courses taught by St. Cloud Technical and Community College faculty who provide the foundational skills need for success at the university. All courses are prerequisite courses and fully transfer to St. Cloud State.

We need more stories like this.

15. Where can I find out what is happening with the teams?

Teams will be posting their meeting agendas and synthesis to the Charting the Future blog (chartingthefuturemnscu.wordpress.com). In addition, teams will be sharing research information and materials that they are discussing. The blog provides a great opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to provide feedback and questions to the teams.


16. When will the teams be announced?

The conveners have already been confirmed and a full roster of each team, including student, faculty, and staff members, will be announced in May.

  • Four of the teams will be launched in Spring 2014: Student Success, Diversity, Comprehensive Workplace Solutions, System Incentives and Rewards
  • The other four will launch in Fall 2014: Academic Planning & Collaboration, Competency Certification & Credit for Prior Learning, Education Technology, IT Systems Design

17. Where are the team rosters located?

Team rosters (PDF) will be updated as needed and are available on this site.

18. What is the timeline for the implementation teams?

The first 4 teams will start meeting by the first of June and use the summer to develop an implementation plan based on their specific topic of focus: student success, diversity, comprehensive workplace solutions, and system incentives and rewards. In the fall, the teams will actively reach out to everyone – students, faculty and staff – to update on the progress and to hear suggestions. The plans will begin to be put in place by mid-November. The remaining 4 teams will start in the fall and focus on academic planning and collaboration, competency certification/credit for prior learning, education technology, and IT systems design.

Since each team focuses on a different topic, there is no fear of falling behind or getting a head-start. It does not matter whether a team launches in spring or fall due to the pacing and collaboration of all 8 teams. There will be regular interaction between the conveners and members of each team. Every month and as frequently as every two weeks, the leaders of the 8 teams will get together to discuss those action items that cut across multiple teams to ensure work is collaborative vs. competing.

19. When will we see results?

We will see initial launches of the action plans for the spring teams by late fall 2014.

20. What will happen over the summer?

Teams will be ready to engage students, faculty and staff in the fall in developing implementation plans. The feedback email address will be active right away, but more in-depth engagement will happen once students, faculty, and staff begin to return in the fall.

21. Will changes be made before the launch of the four fall implementation teams?

There will be a formal assessment of each implementation team prior to launching the second wave in the fall. This assessment will measure and determine whether members are comfortable with their role, with the format, and interactions on the teams. This feedback will be used to improve the existing teams moving forward and ensure the teams launching in the fall are effective as possible.


22. How will decisions be made?

Teams should drive towards consensus in order to come to decisions. Decisions should reflect dialogue that incorporates various perspectives of the team. They will follow guiding principles to guide team decision-making, dispute resolution, and tradeoffs that may arise in the course of implementation. These guiding principles include prioritizing student success above all other considerations, prioritizing collaboration over autonomy, having a bias toward action and having a willingness to do things differently rather than work with the status quo.

Teams will follow a consultative model to engage all stakeholders.

23. What is a consultative model?

Implementation teams will actively communicate and consult with respective communities and organizations throughout the implementation journey. The teams will hold regional engagement sessions and attend meet and confers in order to gather ideas and input from faculty, staff, and students along with subject matter experts, the steering committee, and external partners.

24. What is the time commitment for Implementation teams?

Implementation teams have been asked to commit for 18-24 months. The pace of each team will vary as it moves from defining its mandate, to developing strategies and initiatives, to supporting adoption by college and university campuses. Teams will spend roughly 6-12 months developing strategy and initiative implementation plans with students, faculty, staff, and community members, followed by roughly 6-12 months supporting the initial implementation phases on campuses (e.g., identifying strategy and initiative leaders, supporting adoption and implementation steps, problem solving barriers to success).

25. What resources are available to support implementation?

Implementation teams will need to outline a resource plan for each of the initiatives proposed. This will include financial and personnel resources, including identification of capability building for specific campus audiences required to succeed. Two primary sources of financing exist: reallocation of existing funds or identification of new resources (e.g., grants, partnerships). Conveners will also be a resource to coordinate and advice on possible resource approaches.


26.  When did the Itasca Project begin, when and how was McKinsey involved with that and is there any connection between that work and Charting the Future?

There is no relationship between the Itasca project and the initial Charting the Future workgroups. McKinsey did not contribute in any way or provide any advice to the three workgroups, the initial draft or the final Charting the Future report and recommendations.  

The Itasca Project is an employer-led civic alliance focused on building a thriving economy and improved quality of life in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area. They have four priority areas: education, job growth, transportation, and socioeconomic disparities and quality of life. Each year they evaluate their activities and focus within each priority area and their commitments (www.theitascaproject.com).

In 2011, the Itasca Project launched a task force to identify strategies for higher education in Minnesota to drive long-term, sustainable economic growth and prosperity. Chancellor Rosenstone, along with President Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota, and President Brian Rosenberg of Macalester College served on the taskforce. In the summer of 2012, they released the Higher Education Partnership for Prosperity report. Three resulting initiatives were then launched: Workforce Alignment, Collaboration, and Research & Innovation.  

McKinsey provides staff support to the Itasca Project. Other organizations provide staff support for projects and initiatives.  

Three Charting the Future workgroups (Education of the Future, System of the Future, and Workforce of the Future) began meeting in November 2012. Each workgroup had a MnSCU staff member assigned to it who was responsible for gathering data for the groups to discuss. The draft report (June 2013) is the result of the three workgroups hard work and best thinking. Over 5400 students, faculty and staff provided feedback which resulted in  the final Charting the Future report presented and approved by the Board of Trustees (November 2013).

Both the Itasca Project Higher Education taskforce and the Charting the Future workgroups are concerned with the same challenges and issues facing higher education in Minnesota so, not surprisingly, some of the topics in the reports are similar.