Erickson to complete 2,300-mile bicycle tour to raise awareness of the needs of part-time students

Posted: September 29, 2003

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Enduring heavy weather and a cracked rib from a collision with an automobile September 12, Robert O. Erickson, a 57-year-old retired executive and former trustee for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, is expected to complete a 2,300-mile bike tour of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Tuesday at Saint Paul College. Erickson will complete his 31-day campaign to draw attention to deficiencies in Minnesota's financial aid program, which he says provides little help for needy part-time college students.

"If I caused a few more people to think about the human and economic implications of helping a struggling working parent pay for college, then every mile was worthwhile," Erickson said Monday morning. "Minnesota's financial aid formula was constructed more than 20 years ago for the young student who could count on his or her parents for financial help. Times have changed. Demographics have changed. Minnesota must change."

Of the 235,000 students served by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities annually, about 44 percent are enrolled part-time. The average age of the system's part-time students is 30. Erickson visited with many students and staff who work with students during his tour.

The chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, James H. McCormick, applauded Erickson for his unconventional campaign to address an issue that has long troubled student and policy leaders of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

"Bob Erickson's commitment to helping students is phenomenal," McCormick said. "After dedicating thousands of hours to the betterment of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities as a board member, he gets on his bicycle and pedals an important message of fairness directly to the people."

This is the second time Erickson has toured the system's 53 campuses by bicycle. As of Monday, Erickson had raised about $98,000 in scholarships over two years to help working part-time students attend Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. A portion of the funds are directed to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation, with other funds designated for individual college and university foundations.

Erickson's bicycling itinerary for Monday and Tuesday (below).

Monday, Sept. 29
Hennepin Technical College, Eden Prairie, 8 a.m.
Campus contact: Carole Carlson 763-550-2194

Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Minneapolis 10 a.m.
Campus contact: Jill Gebhardt 612-341-7304

North Hennepin Community & Technical College, Brooklyn Park, 1 p.m.
Campus contact: Carmen Shoquist, 763-763-424-0820

Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park, 3 p.m.
Campus contact: Carole Carlson 763-550-2194

Tuesday, Sept. 30
Century College, White Bear Lake 10 a.m.
Campus contact: Nancy Livingston 651-779-3222

Metropolitan State University, St. Paul's East Side, 11:30 a.m.
Campus contact: Thomas Cook 651-772-7777

Final stop: Saint Paul College, St. Paul arriving 12:15 p.m.
Campus contact: Jim Brown 651-846-1305

Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 430,000 students across the state.