Outlook

Giving life to collective vision

Monday, January 25, 2010

As we consider all the promise and possibilities this new decade holds for the St. Cloud State community, I feel tremendous optimism. One of the great thrills of leading a university is being encouraged to think big – to formulate a vision, then work with a cast of thousands to bring it to life.

While we are acutely aware of economic challenges that continue to affect our budget and our decision-making process, one priority trumps all others – giving our students the outstanding, well-rounded education they need to succeed. We must continue to move forward with bold, innovative plans to grow and improve our programs and our environment – for their sake. Each one of our 17,700 students came to us with a unique set of hopes and dreams, and it’s important that we create the opportunities that will help them attain their goals.

We’re fortunate to have a leadership team and 1,300 faculty and staff working together to achieve our overarching goal of making St. Cloud State the finest university of its kind in the Midwest, recognized by our peers as a leader in our region. A significant part of our strategy to realize this vision has been to alter the way the community perceives our University and its impact – to help our neighbors recognize that we are a cultural, economic and educational force in and for Central Minnesota.

By strengthening our community partnerships and implementing a “St. Cloud Proud” university marketing plan, there’s been an unmistakable physical and philosophical new day in the relationship between campus and community. “Welcome back students” signs in the windows of local businesses are the result of a St. Cloud State-driven plan to get community members to visibly recognize the value our students have to the local economy, and new banners on the approaches to campus symbolize our new “university town” attitude.

For the past year red St. Cloud State banners have lined the University Drive Bridge and walkways around and through campus. Now, in conjunction with the opening of the new Granite City Crossing Bridge on Division Street, black city and university banners alternately flank portions of Division Street from the bridge to Seventh Avenue, heralding an unprecedented spirit of pride and unity among campus, city and neighborhood constituencies.

And there’s more to come, as you will see in the pages of this issue of Outlook. A block south of Division on Fifth Avenue the elegant Fifth Avenue Live complex is rising out of the ground and taking shape to hold retail shops, a St. Cloud State Welcome Center and spacious and secure new furnished apartments for our students. The innovative project is an exciting, highly visible sign of these decidedly new times, as is the planned expansion of the National Hockey Center into a National Event and Hockey Center on the south end of campus.

We’ve been building on campus as well. This fall we reopened a beautifully renovated Riverview – the university’s only building on the National Register of Historic Places – as a new home for the communication studies department. The extensive, high-tech renovations being made to Brown Hall will be completed this spring to offer expanded facilities for our growing nursing program. And plans are in the works for a $42 million integrated science and engineering laboratory facility – or ISELF – that will make our campus a statewide leader in science education.

Our vision includes improving and expanding our academic and service programs for students as well, building on our common goals to enhance our university’s unique identity:

  • Accessibility that leads to success
  • Character that reflects our region
  • Education that drives knowledge into action, and
  • A portfolio of distinctive programs

The most important beneficiaries of all these plans and projects are, of course, our students. They give life to our vision and inspire us to be collaborative and creative as we continue cultivating a campus that is expert in building community and teaching by example the value of making a difference.

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