MnSCU launches efforts to expand access, learning options, community and economic development

Posted: October 7, 2002

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

A major initiative has begun throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to meet 21 goals focused on student, workforce and community needs.

Chancellor James McCormick said the publication of the new three-year strategic plan, Designing the Future, will help build public awareness of the goals to increase access, expand learning options, strengthen community development and economic vitality, and fully coordinate the 34 institutions.

"We want Minnesota residents to know how their state colleges and universities will strategically focus efforts to expand access and quality, while maintaining efficiency," McCormick said.

"Broad public input helped develop our plan, which holds us accountable for using taxpayer funds wisely as we implement improvements in programs, facilities and services to benefit students, communities and the state."

The system's Board of Trustees has approved the strategic plan. It was developed with statewide input from community and business people, legislators, students, faculty, staff and campus administrators and a 33-member Citizens Advisory Commission co-chaired by Minnesota business leaders Vance Opperman and Glen Taylor.

The plan's four major strategic directions are:

  • Increase access and opportunity, including participation of under-served students, support for higher education, affordability and partnerships with K-12 education.
  • Expand high-quality learning programs and services, including lifelong learning and opportunities for career education and workforce training, electronic learning options and graduate education.
  • Strengthen community development and economic vitality, including support for state and regional initiatives, and collaboration with other higher education providers.
  • Fully integrate and coordinate the system's 34 institutions, including improving the transfer process for students; recruiting and retaining excellent faculty, staff and administrators; aligning technology and strengthening financial systems.

At its September meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a work plan for implementing Designing the Future during the 2002-2003 academic year.

Goals chosen for special attention the first year include removing barriers to higher education for students of color, first-generation college students, low-income students and students for whom English is a second language. The goals also include new collaborations with pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education, more support through public and non-state sources, and expanding lifelong learning opportunities. The system also will work to alleviate shortages in critical workforce areas such as teaching and health care careers.