Vote of No Confidence


Jon Heimer, A&E Editor

SMSU Faculty Association Executive Committee voted no confidence in the MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone October 3. They joined the faculty associations of five other MnSCU Universities: Mankato, St. Cloud, Winona, and Bemidji. The vote in SMSU was unanimous.

The rationale for the no confidence vote was the faculty concern over the controversial Charting the Future plan promoted by the chancellor’s office.

Charting the Future is an initiative by the central office of MnSCU to revamp the MnSCU system. By creating “master courses” and moving significant amounts of curriculum online, the chancellor said, “I do have an agenda here. I came to this job with a commitment to ensure the survival of our colleges and universities and strengthen them in ways that better serve our students.”

But in the eyes of a large and growing number of faculties across MnSCU, this plan is nothing short of disaster.

Vicky Brockman, President of the SMSU Faculty Association, said the faculty is “Is very concerned about the process [of developing Charting the Future], and about the structure. It lacks adequate student and faculty input.”

Faculty association vice-president, Doug Simon said, “[It is not written clearly]. The goals and principles are very good, but the devil is in the details.”

BA 217 was packed with faculty members Oct. 30 for a presentation by Rod Henry Interfaculty Organization treasurer, who highlighted problems with Charting the Future for faculty and students.

Henry’s report linked the Charting the Future proposal to a report done by consulting firm Mckinsey and Company which MnSCU paid two million dollars. Henry said Mckinsey and Company’s ideal school is one like BYU or Southern New Hampshire University, who offer most classes online only.

And that isn’t all this proposal would do, according to Henry. It would create “master courses.” There are classes that all have to be taught the exact same way; it would streamline the classes and programs into identical formats across MnSCU, Henry said.

The Charting the Future report states that the first priority is to create this sort of master plan.

The master plan would involve the relocation and closing of some programs and campuses, but this master plan doesn’t say which ones would be eliminated or the decision making process that would close them.

Then under the “Actionable Strategic Directions” section of their first step the second point is, “Redesign of existing programs to align with industry needs.” Not student needs, “industry needs.” Student needs are not brought up under “Actionable Strategic Directions.” The report lists learner needs in its first priority but under that priority it never brings it up again. It talks about industry needs and how to re-organize the programs we do have.

The report also says, “they will need to consider the replacement of some full-service campuses with a suite of flexible delivery options including centers or sites that deliver programs and services online and/or in partnership with other colleges and universities, school districts, and community-based organizations”

“This would not close down SMSU,” said SMSU President Connie Gores.

But the Faculty Association vice-president Simon said, “I don’t trust the [MnSCU] central office.”