Posted: August 17, 2007
Contact: Doug Anderson, email@example.com, 651-201-1426
After riding 11,500 miles to raise scholarship money since 2002, Robert Erickson is still not satisfied. He will begin his sixth annual 2,300-mile bicycle tour Monday to raise money and public support for part-time students who attend the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
Erickson, the chair of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation, will depart at 8 a.m. from Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids. His tour, which is expected to take 30 days, will take him to all 53 campuses in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. He is funding the trip at his own expense.
"Raising scholarship funds for part-time students is so important that I feel compelled to do another ride," said Erickson, 61, before starting this year's "Scholarship Challenge." "Part-time students often are not eligible for scholarships, and the financial aid formula does not treat them fairly. I have long advocated for the state to change its funding formula so part-time students get a fair shake."
To date, Erickson's rides have provided scholarships to 225 students. About 41 percent of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities students are enrolled part-time. The average age of part-time students is nearly 29.
"Every year, I marvel at Bob Erickson's willingness to go an extra 2,300 miles to help expand access for Minnesotans to our colleges and universities, and I am grateful to him," said Chancellor James H. McCormick. "This ride shines a light on an important need and makes a demonstrable difference for students who receive the scholarships."
Catherine McGlinch, executive director of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation, agreed. "Many part-time students struggle to stay in college because they're juggling full-time jobs and family responsibilities," she said. "I'm thankful that Bob Erickson is willing to draw attention to this group of students who are striving to better themselves against some daunting odds."
As a former trustee and chair of the finance and facilities committee of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system's Board of Trustees, Erickson also served as senior vice president for finance and operations for the University of Minnesota from 1991 to 1995 and worked as a senior executive for SuperValu for 16 years.
In his first five bike tours, Erickson, who lives in Bloomington, raised more than $303,000. To spur contributions, the state colleges and universities will participate in Erickson's effort in various ways. For example, about a dozen Minnesota State University, Mankato staff members are expected to ride with Erickson from Faribault into Mankato.
Contributions, which are tax deductible as charitable contributions, may be made to the individual college or university foundations or the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation, Wells Fargo Place, 30 7th St. E., Suite 350, St. Paul, MN 55101-7804. All donations raised in connection with Erickson's ride will be applied to student scholarships.
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that serves as an integral partner with institutional foundations to advocate for the system and to raise and distribute funds for the benefit of students, programs and communities.
Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve more than 430,000 students across the state.