Driving Change in Higher Education.

Policy Update

Changes coming to Northwest Technical College

If all goes according to plan, there are big things brewing at Northwest Technical College (NTC) and Bemidji State University (BSU). NTC recently applied for a “change of control” to its accrediting body, which would further the alignment it already has with BSU. The increased partnership will lead to a new name for the college and the loss of six to ten staff positions and some faculty reductions in 2015-16. The moves are meant to combat a recent trend that has seen a 20% enrollment drop in the last four years and capitalize on the fact that 10% of NTC students continue on to BSU programs. The proposal will allow students to take many of their general education credits at NTC and then transition easily into four-year programs at BSU. Read more about the proposed changes at Northwest Technical College.

Legislation reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs new higher ed-related benefits for vets

Last week legislation largely aimed at fixing the wait-time issues at the Department of Veteran Affairs passed both the House and Senate. The legislation also has a new benefit for veterans and their families. Public universities that wish to continue receiving GI Bill benefits must offer veterans and their families in-state tuition. Veterans groups have long pushed for this because those returning from military service often have difficulty meeting in-state tuition residency requirements. Around 30 states or university systems already have laws or policies that view veterans as in-state students, including Minnesota. Read more about veterans being considered in-state residents here.

MnSCU BOT votes to approve future chancellor contracts

MnSCU BOT votes to approve future chancellor contracts

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees voted that they will approve all future contracts and contract modifications with the chancellor. This change follows the report last month that former Board Chair Clarence Hightower had signed a new three-year contract with Chancellor Steven Rosenstone in October. At that time, there were calls for increased transparency with the contract process that led to a study of how other organizations deal with contracts with their lead executives. Read more about the changes to the MnSCU BOT procedure for approving contracts.

Education Department testing student aid in non-credit-hour-based programs

The Education Department is launching a trial program to graduate more non-traditional student more quickly. Selected “experimental sites” will be allowed to award aid for competency-based programs, prior-learning assessments or programs that blend direct assessment and credit-hour coursework. These institutions won’t be limited by regulations and laws that restrict student aid to traditional credit-hour programs. These limitations have made it difficult for programs that award credits for work experience to get off the ground. The House of Representatives just passed a bill that creates a similar competency-based pilot program. Read more about the Education Department’s “experimental sites” program around credit for prior learning.

Charting the Future update

Charting the Future (CTF) work groups have begun meeting over the past couple of months. In total, there are nine working groups that will ultimately make recommendations to the Chancellor regarding implementation of new system policy to reflect the goals laid out in the final CTF report that was approved by the Minnesota State College and Universities (MnSCU) Board of Trustees. 

At this time five of the groups have begun their work. Those include:

  • Student Success
  • System Rewards and Incentives 
  • Comprehensive Workplace Solutions
  • Diversity
  • Steering Committee

Each of these groups has 18 members including two students (one appointed by MSCSA and one state university student), representatives from each of the MnSCU system bargaining units and system office and campus staff who serve as issue area experts. 

This fall the remaining four implementation teams will begin their work. Those are:

  • Academic Planning and Collaboration 
  • Competency Certification and Credit for Prior Learning
  • Education Technology
  • Information Technology Systems Design 

The Academic Planning team has been charged with creating the legislatively mandated credit transfer implementation plan. During the previous session, legislators directed MnSCU to create a plan to implement new transfer degrees which would simplify transfer for students in these programs. That report is due to the legislature by March 15, 2015. 

If you have general questions about CTF, you can find more information here.

For more specific questions regarding this process, feel free to contact the MSCSA state office at 651-297-5877. 

MnSCU Board of Trustees elect Tom Renier chair

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Board of Trustees Chair Clarence Hightower’s term is coming to a close June 30, 2014, so the MnSCU Board of Trustees elected Tom Renier as its new chair and Margaret Anderson Kelliher as the vice chair. Renier has been on the MnSCU Board of Trustees since 2004 and was reappointed to a second six-year term in 2010. He is the president of the Northland Foundation, which serves northeastern Minnesota and provides assistance to both nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses with a focus on serving children, youth and families. Kelliher has served on the MnSCU Board of Trustees since 2012 and is the president and CEO of the Minnesota High Tech Association. She served as a state representative from 1999 to 2011. Read more about Tom Renier being elected the chair of the MnSCU Board of Trustees.

Shortening the FAFSA gains support from both sides of the aisle

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Michael F. Bennet have proposed legislation the would radically simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The legislation would cut the current application down to just two questions: the size of your family and household income from two years earlier. This idea is based on a paper from seven years ago by Susan Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton titled “College Grants on a Postcard: A Proposal for Simple and Predictable Federal Student Aid.” The premise of the paper was that nearly all of the FAFSA’s questions could be removed without a large change in the way the money is distributed. The concept of a simplified FAFSA has the support of conservatives who would like to see red tape eliminated and liberals who would like more low income students to attend college, but for them the FAFSA’s complexity is a hurdle. Potential opponents of a simplified FAFSA are states and colleges that rely on the data in the longer FAFSA form to make their decisions on need-based aid and grants. Read more about the proposed legislation to fix the FAFSA.

MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone agrees to new three-year contract

MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone agrees to new three-year contract

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Board of Trustees has signed a second three-year contract with current Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. The new contract will take him through July 31, 2017. The contract stipulates that Rosenstone must resign as a member of the University of Minnesota faculty by August 1, 2014. Rosenstone is currently on an unpaid leave of absence from his tenured faculty position at the U of M. Under the contract, Rosenstone’s base salary for 2014-15 is $387,250, which is an increase of 1.8% over 2013-14. Read more about Chancellor Rosenstone’s new contract here.



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