MnSCU to expand academic plan for Twin Cities metropolitan area

Posted: March 21, 1997

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

A revised and expanded master academic plan for the Twin Cities metropolitan area will be developed over the next several months by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).

The MnSCU Board of Trustees gave a go-ahead for the planning effort on Wednesday, March 19. It is expected that the revised plan will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature in January 1998.

"This is an important opportunity to work with all of our partners in higher education and the community on a comprehensive and detailed plan that will address the educational needs of the Twin Cities area," said MnSCU Chancellor Judith Eaton.

"The result will be a vision and a blueprint for expanding access to quality educational programs for the rapidly growing and increasingly diverse student population in this region."

The revised master academic plan will expand on an earlier draft approved by the Board of Trustees in January 1997 and forwarded to the Minnesota Legislature later that month. That draft was developed in response to a request from the 1996 Legislature.

The original plan was reviewed in a meeting of the House Higher Education Division on January 27, 1997. The results of that review will be reflected in the revised plan.

The expanded plan will address a wide range of issues, including enrollment projections and the need for new educational programs in an 11-county area surrounding the Twin Cities, including regions served by St. Cloud State University and Mankato State University. The study will explore the role of partnerships among MnSCU, the University of Minnesota and private colleges and the potential of technology in delivering educational services.

Hazel Reinhardt, a nationally recognized consultant based in Minneapolis, will coordinate the planning effort and prepare a report for the Board of Trustees. A blue ribbon advisory group will be formed to advise Reinhardt and a team of specialists working with her.

The Board of Trustees on Wednesday reaffirmed the importance of MnSCU's six strategic goals in the planning process. Those goals focus on academic accountability, skill-based transfer, career education, electronic education, program and service alignment and MnSCU/K-12 partnership.

The board also reaffirmed principles contained in the original draft of the master academic plan, including the concept of an open admission, career-oriented campus. The plan called for creation of an "academic passport" to enable students to move easily among colleges and universities. It also emphasized wider use of electronic technology in teaching and learning.

At its meeting Wednesday, the board specifically noted that it was making no immediate decision about the location of any new or expanded MnSCU facilities in the metropolitan area. The plan approved in January called for creation of an open admission university to meeting the changing educational and economic needs of the Twin Cities area. The plan authorized initial planning for the consolidation of Metropolitan State University and Minneapolis Community and Technical College to establish the new university.

The proposed consolidation is now on hold pending the results and recommendations of the revised master academic plan.