Fourth chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
installed during Capitol Rotunda ceremony
Keeping the doors open to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans is
and will remain the top priority of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities,
Steven Rosenstone said during an installation ceremony Wednesday in the Capitol
Rotunda. He was formally installed as the system’s fourth chancellor.
“We absolutely must work together to make it financially feasible for our
students and all Minnesotans not just to attend our colleges and universities
but to graduate and succeed,” he told the several hundred guests who attended
Gov. Mark Dayton, Board of Trustees Chair Scott Thiss, Vice Chair Clarence
Hightower as well as student and faculty leaders also made brief remarks.
Students representing the 31 state colleges and universities performed musical
selections, welcomed guests in 29 global languages and unfurled banners
celebrating each college and university.
Drawing on the accomplishments of Minnesota’s early leaders, Rosenstone said
their actions emphasized a commitment to the people, to each other and to the
state; courage to do what’s needed when it’s needed; and creativity to make the
impossible possible. “It is this set of values that has been fundamental to
Minnesota’s quality of life,” he said.
“These are also the values that drive the Minnesota State Colleges and
Universities. And they are the values that are key to our future.” Chancellor
Rosenstone also expressed concern about the increasing cost of a college
education. “To you – our students – I have heard you on tuition, and I get it,”
“I’m deeply worried about the darkest cloud in the educational sky – the
shifting of costs from the state to students,” he said. “People across Minnesota
have expressed concern that this trend is pricing students out of college, and
ultimately, out of a job. True accessibility will be possible only if we stop
placing more of the financial burden on our students.”
“For more than 150 years, our colleges and universities have prepared
Minnesota’s workforce,” he said. “We have supplied skilled workers and
professionals to lead new and growing companies, and we have educated the
Minnesotans who knit together the fabric of our communities – from teachers and
social workers to policy officers and nurses. That role cannot diminish in the
face of current financial challenges.”
Traveling more than 6,000 miles during the past few months, Rosenstone said
he heard repeatedly about the value of the 31 state colleges and universities.
“Minnesotans don’t see us as the problem; they see us as the solution to their
most important challenges,” he said. “Our faculty help solve the real world
problems facing businesses and communities. We prepare the workers and
professionals who will lead every sector of Minnesota’s economy.”
He urged the system’s leaders, faculty and staff to be responsible stewards
and take calculated risks to accelerate progress. “Minnesota is counting on us
to act courageously,” he said.
“Our stark reality is that state funding per student – in constant dollars –
has been cut 48 percent since 2000. Yes, we will continue to improve efficiency
and generate additional revenue but that won’t be sufficient to keep college
affordable and our programs strong. We must find more innovative ways to educate
students and manage operations,” he said.
“There is no lack of creativity in this system,” he noted. “But, inertia –
doing things the way we’ve always done them – is a serious and even dangerous
risk because we are facing tectonic changes and challenges.
He called for effective collaboration with government, businesses and K-12
partners. “We must put away old prejudices and outdated approaches and focus on
our shared commitments to access, quality and affordability to build Minnesota’s
workforce of the future….Minnesota is counting on us, and we must lead.”
Minnesota's 31 state community and technical colleges, and universities serve
more than 420,000 students across the state.
October 19, 2011