MnSCU Board of Trustees approves creation of open admission university to serve Twin Cities metropolitan area

Posted: January 15, 1997

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Creation of an open admission university to meet the changing educational and economic needs of the Twin Cities metropolitan area was approved unanimously today by the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).

The board authorized MnSCU Chancellor Judith Eaton to begin planning for the consolidation of Metropolitan State University and Minneapolis Community and Technical College to establish the new university. Students would be able to take courses leading to technical, two-year, baccalaureate and professional master's degrees and certificates, all within a single university.

Eaton will report to the board on the costs and timetable for the consolidation at the March 1997 board meeting.

The concept of an open admission university is part of a master academic plan for the metropolitan area that was endorsed by the board. The plan, including the idea for the new university, requires legislative approval. The plan will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature by February 15, 1997, in keeping with a directive from the 1996 Legislature.

"An open admission university will significantly expand educational opportunities for a wide range of students, including recent high school graduates and older adult and part-time students," Eaton said. "I look forward to discussing this new concept with the Legislature and other constituents concerned about higher education in the Twin Cities."

She said the master academic plan recognizes the needs of a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse student population in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The number of high school graduates in the Twin Cities is on the rise, along with the number of older students needing continuing education and new skills.

The Twin Cities economy is changing, too, with fast-growing high-tech industries in need of college graduates with strong science, statistical and technical backgrounds.

"The new university will be directly focused on expanding flexible and high quality educational opportunities to meet the broad spectrum of needs of the large and richly diverse population of the Twin Cities region," said Susan Cole, president of Metropolitan State University. "Students will have available a truly integrated ladder of programs targeted to business and industry in the region and to the demands of lifelong learning."

Added Diann Schindler, president of Minneapolis Community and Technical College: "We asked the question, 'What is the best way to meet the Twin Cities' need for quality educational programs?' The new open admission university answers that question. This plan makes sense for the Twin Cities and continues to emphasize two-year technical, occupational and liberal arts education."

Key features of the new university include:

  • An open admission policy. For admission, students will need a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) or be able to demonstrate potential for being a successful college student. The institution will continue to have other requirements for admission to bachelor's, master's and other specific programs.
  • A focus on its urban role. The university will offer instruction tailored to urban needs and job opportunities. It will limit extracurricular activities and athletic programs to those most important for urban students.
  • A flexible calendar. The university will offer courses day and night and on weekends 12 months a year.

The plan was recommended by Chancellor Eaton and a committee composed of all presidents of MnSCU colleges and universities in the Twin Cities area and of St. Cloud State University and Mankato State University. They sought input from the Twin Cities communities, business interests, elected officials and other interested parties, including the University of Minnesota.

The idea of an open admission university is among five options examined in the master academic plan. The other options are:

  • Increasing the four-year college services in the western metropolitan region by building a permanent new campus for Metro State in or near Minneapolis.
  • Concentrating the development of Metro State solely in the eastern metropolitan region, with most instructional programs in St. Paul.
  • Combining North Hennepin Community College, Brooklyn Park, with Metro State to create an urban-suburban institution.
  • Transforming Metro State into an institution that instructs largely through computers and advanced communications technology.

The plan acknowledges that consolidating the institutions is a complex proposition involving an enormous effort by staff and faculty, but both presidents agree that the benefits for students will make the extra effort worthwhile.

In addition to the creation of the new institution, the master academic plan contains several other important initiatives:

  • The master academic plan calls for creating an "academic passport" to enable students to move easily among the 11 MnSCU institutions in the Twin Cities area. The document also stresses the importance of closer ties among the two-year colleges in the area and between Metro State and the two-year institutions.
  • Strengthen the two-year colleges in the Twin Cities area. For technical colleges, programs will be enhanced by improved equipment, more emphasis on technical competencies needed in the workplace of the future, and more emphasis on general education. For community colleges, stronger preparation in applied mathematics and applied science, computer literary and technical subjects will be emphasized.
  • Two-year institutions will expand evening and weekend class offerings and strengthen continuing education classes, especially for adults.
  • Several two-year institutions in the suburbs may serve as locations for upper-division academic offerings by the new university and perhaps graduate programs by St. Cloud, Mankato or Winona state universities.
  • All academic programs will be coordinated to ease the transfer of students into baccalaureate programs.
  • Ties between MnSCU institutions and business and industry will be strengthened.
  • Electronic technology will be used more widely in teaching and in communication among MnSCU institutions.

Metro State serves more than 5,200 students each quarter at its campuses in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Minneapolis Community and Technical College serves nearly 6,000 students at its campus in downtown Minneapolis.