MnSCU chancellor cites achievements, challenges at system's 10th anniversary

Posted: September 21, 2005

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

In the decade since the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities formed, the system has become a powerhouse of higher education in the state and a national leader, said Chancellor James H. McCormick in his second annual state of the system address.

Speaking before a group of about 200 faculty, staff and others, McCormick said, "Our colleges and universities have evolved into sophisticated education enterprises, working to continually increase quality and efficiency and to enhance the experience of the students we serve."

The system was created in 1995 from the merger of three autonomous systems for technical colleges, community colleges and state universities. The University of Minnesota is the only other public higher education system in the state.

Achievements over the last 10 years include:

An enrollment increase of 15 percent. Since 1995, the system has served 1.2 million students and conferred about 285,000 degrees, diplomas and certificates.

The number of students of color has grown by 80 percent. Students of color now comprise 12.8 percent, or 25,000 students, up from 6.6 percent in 1995. The system serves more students of color than any other higher education provider in Minnesota.

The adoption of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum has made it easier for students to transfer. About 23,000 students now transfer successfully each year among institutions within our system or to other colleges and universities.

Educational offerings continue to adapt to changing educational needs. In the past two years alone, the system has created 527 new programs, redesigned 1,401 programs and closed or suspended 603 programs to reallocate resources to higher priority programs. Cutting-edge program offerings include nanotechnology, biosciences technology and wireless network security. Overall, the system has about 3,500 degree, diploma or certificate programs.

About 30,000 students a year take online classes. Online education has grown exponentially through the gateway, Minnesota Online, which now offers about 130 academic programs online and more than 1,800 course sections.

The system has created efficiencies through consolidation and restructuring, going from 45 institutions before the merger to 32 today. This has led to new synergies and smarter use of resources.

The system has expanded its educational reach. Just this year, the Minnesota Legislature authorized the state universities to award doctoral degrees in education, business, psychology, physical therapy, audiology and nursing.

Challenges for the next decade include coming to grips with the possibility of flat or decreasing funding for higher education, McCormick said. In 1997, for every dollar that students paid in tuition, state appropriations contributed $1.89. By 2005, state support has shrunk to $1.09 for every tuition dollar.

"Like other public institutions of higher education across the country, we find that one of our main sources of funding - our state appropriation - remains uncertain," McCormick noted. "In the long run, we will need to rethink how our colleges and universities are financed. We will need to identify dependable and stable sources of funding while assuring that we can continue to meet the needs of students and Minnesota employers."

Mindful of the burden that rising tuition has placed on students, McCormick said, "We need to make sure we are not pricing our students out of the higher education market..We must convince the people of Minnesota that the key to the state's success in the future is having informed and educated people who have the knowledge and skills to support their families, participate in the democratic process and contribute to the state's vitality."


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