Fourth chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities installed at Capitol Rotunda ceremony

Release Date: October 19, 2011

Chancellor Steven Rosenstone
Chancellor Steven Rosenstone

Rosenstone calls for commitment, courage and creativity to ensure access to extraordinary education

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 the ceremony.

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 that 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,” he said.

“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 universities and community and technical colleges serve more than 420,000 students each year in credit and noncredit courses across the state.

For a full copy of Chancellor Rosenstone's remarks from earlier today, see the attached PDF or click here to read it and other speeches