From the President

A joyful Thanksgiving wish for the Metropolitan State community

Posted November 21, 2016

Dear colleagues:

The Thanksgiving holiday is a great prompt for thinking about what makes each of us feel grateful.

This year I feel especially thankful to be at Metropolitan State and serving as your president.

Devinder warned me that I would become president on July 1 and that the next day it would be the end of November. He was accurate! A lot has happened and the days and weeks simply fly by.

Dear colleagues:

The Thanksgiving holiday is a great prompt for thinking about what makes each of us feel grateful. This year I feel especially thankful to be at Metropolitan State and serving as your president. Devinder warned me that I would become president on July 1 and that the next day it would be the end of November. He was accurate! A lot has happened and the days and weeks simply fly by.

Here are a few of the highlights from the past five months:

  • We welcomed Gov. Mark Dayton to the Saint Paul campus twice. In July, he was here for the ending ceremony of the Capital Pathways program of the Urban League, and two weeks ago, with Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to convene a Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations. Because the event was here at Metropolitan, the law enforcement and criminal justice student organization was in attendance to observe and to support the small group process. Our students have been invited to continue their involvement with the council.
  • At our recent annual scholarship breakfast, we recognized 89 student scholars, awarding more than $240,000 in financial support to students.
  • During that breakfast, we announced the establishment of the Jason Carter Endowment for Education in Science. This $2 million gift, the largest ever received by the university, will provide recruitment and retention scholarships and travel and research support for our students studying natural sciences. The Pioneer Press ran a nice editorial, which referred to Metropolitan State as “a treasured east metro institution…”
  • We raised approximately $234,000 toward reconstruction and upgrading of our greenhouse, which will house the GROW-IT Center. The GROW-IT Center will promote scientific research, pre-K-university student learning, and community engagement. We need to raise another million to realize our vision but we are encouraged by the “growing” interest in this proposal.
  • We have received $150,000 from two local foundations (Otto Bremer and F.R. Bigelow) to support a nursing education initiative with our sister institutions of the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership.
  • Despite technical difficulties with the site provider, we raised over $10,000 on “Give to the Max” day.
  • Student Life and Leadership Development hosted a successful Fall Fest. It was a beautiful day and brought students, staff, faculty and neighbors to our Saint Paul Campus for a community-building event.
  • Enrollment for fall 2016 was up slightly, making us the best performing university in the Minnesota State system. Due to careful planning and monitoring of spring enrollment by department chairs, deans, the provost and enrollment management, spring 2017 is showing positive gains over last year. A strong spring performance could lift our enrollment for the academic year by more than 1 percent, assuring we will balance this year’s budget.
  • Our Strategic Enrollment Management Council, with the assistance of economics professor Allen Bellas, has developed a preliminary enrollment prediction model. The council is focusing on ideas for proactively managing enrollment so that the university can achieve its academic goals in a financially sound manner.
  • Our partnership relationships, especially with Saint Paul College, MCTC and NHCC are strong and growing! These partnerships are providing support to two-year students who want to complete a four year degree and helping to assure our enrollment health.
  • We continue to make progress on the improvement of internal budget and financial processes. We expect that a fully transparent and understandable budgeting process will be in place for FY18. Both Financial Management and HR processes are being examined and continual attention is being paid to making improvements that will ease everyone’s work.
  • The Executive Strategic Council (the president, VPs and chief officers) and the Cabinet (ESC, plus deans and associate VPs) are developing a plan to streamline, integrate and align our system of committees and work groups. Our goal is to make sure that time spent in committee work is meaningful and productive. Under the current schema, too many good ideas get lost in our burdensome and opaque system of committees, task forces and work groups.
  • Preparation for our Higher Learning Commission reaffirmation of accreditation visit (Feb. 27 – March 1) has been proceeding well and we will be fully prepared to welcome our visiting team to campus. We anticipate they will be pleased with the progress we have made since our Systems Portfolio was submitted in June 2015.

These points only capture a small slice of the great work occurring across colleges, divisions and departments at the university. I am thankful that I can’t capture all the good things in one message! I will highlight other excellent work in future messages.

The most important point, though, is that none of these positive things would happen without the dedication and commitment that each of you bring to your work every day. I see the devotion to supporting our students all the time and in every nook and cranny of our locations around the Twin Cities. Your hope and determination, and that of our students, motivate me to do my best to assure that everyone in the State of Minnesota knows what an exceptional place Metropolitan State is and what extraordinary things happen here.

The weeks that follow will be filled with exams and papers and anxious students. We always wonder how we make it through, but we always do. In preparation for the chaos and excitement of another semester’s end, I send you my best wishes for a peaceful and joyful holiday weekend.

 

With gratitude.

President Virginia "Ginny" Arthur

Metropolitan State University