Chas Anderson ’96
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Her first job was aide to Gov. Arne Carlson, and in less than a decade government relations graduate Chas Anderson has risen to the position of deputy commissioner – second in command – for the Minnesota Department of Education. She credits her SCSU Survey experience with helping prepare her for her extraordinary advance into state government leadership.
“I was exposed to research methodology and the public policy side,” said Anderson of her Survey role (1994-96), which gave her the skills she would hone first as a constituent services and legislative relations aide for Gov. Arnie Carlson. That led to a position as lead administrator for the Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee from 1999-2003. Then Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed her deputy education commissioner, a position that gives her responsibility for day-to-day operations of the department, including agency management and human resource operations, oversight of the legislative agenda and accountability issues.
“I grew a lot in my four years at St. Cloud State – academically, socially and in ways that helped me handle management and research into issues that have been critical to my work,” said Anderson, St. Paul, who is focusing more on policy than finance issues, including improving the quality of teacher preparation. “My leadership role as a student director helped me establish those skills.”
Anderson recalls being given responsibilities with the SCSU Survey that became valuable to her education. For example, she helped oversee the Survey’s transition from a “paper/pencil” to computerized operation. “I learned to work through those changes,” she said. “You can’t get that kind of experience out of a classroom.”
The in-depth examination of issues and political questions to be included in any survey was excellent practice for the policy work Anderson has done for various state government offices. “We’d do a lot of research on issues before we’d put together a survey instrument,” she said. “The methodology was right.”
Anderson has maintained her friendship with Professor Steve Frank in the 12 years since her Survey days. “I still come up and talk to his classes. He was a good mentor in college, and I still go to him for advice. He’s just a very solid professor.”