Posted: December 4, 1996

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

A strategic plan that outlines how Minnesota States Colleges and Universities will meet the higher education needs of students into the next century was approved unanimously today by the MnSCU Board of Trustees.

The plan will guide the system over the next three years as it strengthens its 37 colleges and universities to provide an enhanced quality of life and improved economic competitiveness for Minnesota business and industry.

"It is the blueprint for fundamental change -- a clear sign that MnSCU intends to move from the traditional to the innovative," said Chancellor Judith Eaton. "We intend to emerge as a performance-based, technology-driven, learning-centered, innovation-focused higher education system."

Called "Putting Students First: MnSCU's Plan for Minnesota 1997-2000," it is the first-ever strategic plan for the higher education system that was established on July 1, 1995.

The board will act on a detailed implementation plan in June 1997.

The plan includes goals for

  • increasing accountability to students and taxpayers,
  • adding a skill-based credit transfer option,
  • improving preparation for careers,
  • aligning programs and services with the state's needs,
  • embracing technology in teaching and learning, and
  • strengthening the partnership between MnSCU and K-12 education.

As part of its biennial budget request, MnSCU will seek funding from the 1997 Minnesota Legislature to begin implementation of these goals and to improve college and university performance in relation to the goals.

The strategic planning process began last spring when MnSCU collected data about the economy, the population and the educational system of Minnesota. The system also sought perspectives from opinion leaders and surveyed employers, alumni and students.

After analyzing that information, the MnSCU board began developing tentative strategic themes and a new vision statement for the system. At that point, the board decided the planning process couldn't continue without talking even more broadly to the people of Minnesota.

As a result, MnSCU scheduled a dozen town meetings across the state, seeking the public's views on the tentative strategic themes and vision statement and higher education issues, in general. The system also held town meetings for faculty, staff and students, exchanging ideas within the MnSCU community.

The five tentative themes then were transformed into strategic goals that incorporate the ideas raised in the town meetings and other discussions. In addition, a sixth strategic goal was added.

"I am particularly proud that these goals incorporate the ideas of a broad cross section of Minnesotans," said Bill Ulland, chair of the Board of Trustees. "Many voices helped to shape this plan, and that is its strength."

A MnSCU statement of values also was developed as a result of the conversations at the town meetings and internal forums. It states:

"Minnesota commits itself to the promotion of four values it deems central to effective education and a strong society. We value

  • Quality: Promoting higher standards of performance in everything the system undertakes.
  • Diversity: Building a system open and accepting of all individuals.
  • Civility: Educating for social and civic responsibility.
  • Access and affordability: Ensuring that there are no financial barriers to MnSCU education."

The board also agreed today to include "systemwide accountability" in the statement of values.

"This statement will be very helpful in implementing the strategic plan," Chancellor Eaton said. "It reflects the values that Minnesotans and MnSCU faculty, students and staff hope will drive the system we are shaping."

The MnSCU vision statement, another key element of the strategic plan, was refined after discussions at the town meetings and internal forums. It states:

"The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, by focusing creativity and energy on meeting the educational needs of those it serves, will be widely recognized as the primary educational pathway for the people of Minnesota to achieve an enhanced quality of life and improved economic competitiveness."

"By virtue of size, MnSCU already is the primary pathway to higher education in Minnesota," Eaton noted. "Of the approximately 250,000 college students in the state, more than half attend a MnSCU institution.

"Although size is important, our vision concentrates on quality, access and choice. We know these are important for Minnesota families thinking of MnSCU as the primary educational resource for securing their future."

With approval of the strategic plan by the Board of Trustees, the next step is to develop the tactics and programs needed to fully implement the plan, Eaton said.

Copies of the plan are available by calling 296-6481 in the Twin Cities area or toll free 1-888-MnSCU-4-U.

MnSCU serves approximately 145,000 students at its state universities, community colleges, technical colleges and comprehensive community and technical colleges.