Posted: April 18, 2008

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system honored faculty and staff this week for outstanding achievements in educational programs and student services.

Selected by a panel of academic and student affairs administrators from various campuses, recipients were given awards in four categories for work they did in the 2007-2008 academic year.

“These awards recognize the outstanding work by many individuals and various colleges and universities to deliver high-quality programs to our students,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick. “They also demonstrate the many creative ways that our faculty and staff employ to continuously improve our programs and services.”

The Excellence in Curriculum Programming Award has three winners:

Minnesota West Community and Technical College for its renewable energy technology program. Developed in 1999 with the biofuel industry, the program reaches out to nontraditional learners. Employers also use the program to train new employees and enhance the skills of current workers. This program places nearly 100 percent of its graduates in jobs.

Minnesota State University, Mankato for its guided inquiry in chemistry program. Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, this approach has transformed the way introductory chemistry is taught at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Using guided inquiry methods of instruction with laptop computers, students learn by applying higher levels of critical thinking skills than are needed for rote memorization.

Minneapolis Community and Technical College for its women’s studies certificate program. Begun in 1974, the program uses interdisciplinary courses for students to examine issues of gender in the United States and around the world, while also considering race, age, socioeconomic status and other social and historical variables. The certificate often leads students to aim higher and enter longer degree programs, including baccalaureate degrees.

The Innovative Partnering and Collaboration Award has four winners:

Minnesota West Community and Technical College for its partnership with Prairie Holdings, a company that works to solve animal disease problems. Twelve biosciences courses were developed as part of the curriculum for an associate in applied science degree. Students learn the latest bioscience technology, and Prairie Holdings has access to a highly trained workforce. This partnership also has fostered an expansion of the bioscience curriculum in local high schools.

Inver Hills Community College for the partnership of its Center for Professional and Work Force Development with Cisco Systems, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, other colleges in the upper Midwest, area high schools and professional associations. This initiative provides dozens of advanced professional development courses and award-winning degree programs in advanced network technology, information and network security, and Internet protocol convergence technology. This program has served more than 500 employees at Minnesota companies since 1997.

Minnesota State University, Mankato for its partnership of more than 10 years with the Mankato area public schools to reduce the shortage of qualified teachers. Through one-on-one interactions between veteran and novice educators, classroom observations, informal group dialogues, and structured in-service experiences, turnover has been reduced and teachers' longevity in the Mankato district has increased.

Southwest Minnesota State University for its collaboration with the Redwood River Monitoring Project and local secondary schools. The project provides hands-on, field-based experiences for biology and environmental science college students who then mentor seventh-to-12th grade students.

The Award for Innovation in Student Affairs Programming has three winners:

Lake Superior College for restructuring student services. Each student now works with only one advisor throughout his or her time at the college to more quickly and effectively meet students’ needs. In the first three years of this approach, student retention has increased by 12.5 percent.

Minnesota State University, Mankato for a partnership with the City of Mankato to provide students with information and skills to understand a lease and public nuisance ordinances, select responsible roommates and get along with neighbors. The program also informs students about disciplinary and legal consequences of violating the law, including hosting loud parties, serving alcohol to minors, driving under the influence and using a fake identification. The program has improved cooperation and communication among the university, city and neighborhood associations.

Century College for developing and adopting the GPS LifePlan, (Goals + Plans = Success), a campus-wide program to assist students in setting goals. Using the plan, students learn how to better manage all aspects of their college careers, including finances and long-term career goals. To date, three other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have adopted GPS LifePlan.

The Outstanding Academic and Student Affairs Administrator Award went to Michael Miller, dean of the College of Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato. This award is given to a college or university administrator who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and significant contribution to the development of academic or student affairs programming at their institution.