Robert Erickson Completes Bike Tour to raise money, awareness for the needs of part-time students

Posted: July 5, 2002

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

Robert Erickson, whose six-year term on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees ended this week, completed his 2,101-mile tour of 53 campuses on Friday afternoon, July 5, at Anoka-Hennepin Technical College.

Completing the last 70-mile ride from St. Cloud State University to Anoka today, he raised more than $25,000 to create a scholarship fund for part-time students within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Erickson, 56, bicycled through temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to 97 degrees, head winds of up to 37 miles per hour, flooded roads, tent caterpillars in the northeast and angry farm dogs. Still, he says he enjoyed the tour immensely and will miss the challenge of bicycling 60 to 130 miles per day.

Throughout his 29-day bike trip, Erickson raised public awareness about the struggles of part-time adult students, who he says are not treated fairly by Minnesota's current financial aid program.

"The personal stories I heard from students across Minnesota convince me that we must do more to make sure that higher education is accessible to working adults who want to better their lives," Erickson said. "Minnesota's financial aid program is outdated and favors full-time, traditional age students over working adults whose life circumstances force them to attend college part-time or not at all."

Of the 225,000 students served by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities annually, about 44 percent are enrolled part-time. About one-third of students attending Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are 25 and older.

Minnesota state college and university students, faculty and staff who welcomed him Friday at Anoka-Hennepin Technical College thanked Erickson for bringing the struggles of part-time students to the forefront. Chancellor James H. McCormick thanked him for his service.

"Mr. Erickson has given the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities six years of his time, talent and mind, and now 29 days of his body, pedaling to 53 campuses for a cause we believe is very important to Minnesota's quality of life," McCormick said. "His journey raised awareness of the system and the common struggles our students face."

To find out more about the scholarship challenge bike ride or to contribute to the scholarship challenge visit the "Scholarship Challenge '02" page.