Centers of excellence in health care, engineering and information security established by MnSCU

Posted: October 19, 2005

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

Revised with additional partner colleges

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will establish centers of excellence in health care, manufacturing/engineering and information security at four state universities and 17 community and technical colleges under a recommendation adopted Wednesday by the system's Board of Trustees.

Each center will be housed at a state university and have community and technical college partners. The centers are:

  • The Center for Strategic Information Technology and Security at Metropolitan State University with Inver Hills Community College and Minneapolis Community and Technical College
  • The Center for Integrated Health Science Education and Practice at Winona State University with Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical, Normandale Community College, Pine Technical College, Ridgewater College, Riverland Community College and Rochester Community and Technical College
  • The Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence at Minnesota State University, Mankato, with Alexandria Technical College, Anoka Technical College, Hennepin Technical College, Normandale Community College, South Central College and the Northeast Higher Education District
  • The Consortium for Manufacturing and Applied Engineering at Bemidji State University with Central Lakes College, Northwest Technical College, Northland Community and Technical College, St. Paul College, St. Cloud Technical College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Pine Technical College

"By building on the outstanding academic talent, programs and resources already at these institutions, the centers will establish flagship programs in areas critical for the state to maintain its competitive edge," Chancellor James McCormick said. "With two-year colleges and state universities working together, the centers will no doubt attract strong faculty talent that will provide Minnesota residents with best-in-class national programs and draw top students from outside the state."

The centers were selected from among 11 finalists reviewed in a two-step process by business, industry and higher education leaders. "This process encouraged our institutions to create synergies with each other, making each center greater than the sum of its parts," said Linda Baer, senior vice chancellor of academics and student affairs.

"The centers also enable a more strategic use of our resources because the winning proposals already have strong programs in place," Baer said. For example, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, a partner in the Center for Strategic Information Systems and Security, has three grants totaling more than $1 million for computer science, information technology and math education. And, Inver Hills Community College has an award-winning Network Technology and Security degree program, she noted.

"At the same time," Baer said, "we still have many excellent programs at state universities and colleges that will be outside these centers of excellence."

Each center is or will seek to become regionally or nationally recognized in its area. All the centers intend to greatly strengthen partnerships with K-12 schools and businesses and industries. Many of the centers will develop innovative curricula and offer hands-on opportunities for career awareness and readiness and for career preparation and development. Applied research to help businesses and industry associations stay in the forefront of meeting workforce challenges will be another focus.

In addition, some centers intend to enhance services to recruit and retain a more diverse student population so as to better reflect the state's changing demographics.

Funding for the centers will come from a $10 million state appropriation initiated by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and approved by the Legislature. Each center will receive $2 million to $4 million over a two-year period, besides being required to generate other funding.

"We're pleased that the governor and Legislature gave us this challenge," said David Paskach, chair of the board's Educational Policy Committee. "We believe we have met it.

We're eager to have these centers establish Minnesota as a leader and innovator in higher education."

Note: View related fact sheet. (59 KB PDF)