Meeting the challenge of change

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ground-view drawing, looking to the southwest, of the ISELF building

Ground-view drawing, looking to the southwest, of ISELF, the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility. Image courtesy of Rafferty Rafferty Tollefson Lindeke Architects.

Photo of President Earl H. Potter III Photo of Devinder Malhotra, provost and vice president of academic affairs Photo of Steve Ludwig, vice president of administrative affairs Ground-view drawing, looking to the southwest, of the ISELF building Aerial-view drawing of ISELF, from the northeast. 

The economy is stagnant. Congress is paralyzed by ideological gridlock. Bart Simpson hasn't grown an inch since 1989.

But at St. Cloud State the march of progress continues, reshaping Minnesota's second-largest university with initiatives that are re-imagining learning, teaching and campus life.

Leading the parade are a trio of higher education veterans, each of whom presented to university employees Jan. 5 at the spring semester Convocation in Ritsche Auditorium. 

President Earl H. Potter III praised employees for commitment and resilience, remarking that "the challenges that we have faced and will face are significant and they require all the insight, skill and perseverance that we can muster."

Said Potter: "We are meeting the challenge of change."

This spring Potter will do double duty helping reinvent online education at St. Cloud State and system wide on behalf of Minnesota's public colleges and universities.

Teaming with him on the local e-education front will be Devinder Malhotra, St. Cloud State's provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Convocation media

"The growth in online courses and programs at SCSU has been a critical area of enrollment growth, much of which has occurred organically," said Malhotra. "We need to begin to think more strategically about our online activities."

A task force directed by Orn Bodvarsson, interim dean of the School of Public Affairs, will identify best practices, standards and procedures that will facilitate the growth of on-line learning programs, said Malhotra.

In his third year at St. Cloud State, Malhotra has also been tasked with supervising these and other initiatives:

  • Improving the orientation process for first-time students.
  • Unifying campus technology and creating a new vision for the library.
  • Leading a campus-wide conversation about interdisciplinary programs and research.

The latter initiative dovetails with construction of ISELF, the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility. University officials have described the building's laboratories and classrooms as being managed by the university, not by a particular department or program -- a new paradigm that will foster cooperative teaching and research.

Site preparation for the $45 million ISELF is underway at the corner of Second Avenue and Eighth Street South. It is expected to be complete in 2013.

Steve Ludwig, vice president of administrative affairs, briefly discussed the ISELF project, then announced that financing plans for $14 million in renovation and expansion at the National Hockey Center is expected to be approved in St. Paul this week.

Construction at the National Hockey Center is slated to start this spring and be substantially complete by the start of the 2012-13 hockey season, said Ludwig.

A key element of the project is an atrium/ticketing area, featuring large areas of exterior glass, that will extend southward to Herb Brooks Way. Other elements include offices for coaches and facility staff, corporate suites to enhance revenue, and improved restrooms and food service areas.  

Potter praised the vice president for his work on the National Hockey Center project, including Ludwig's leadership during two years of legal wrangling with state and federal officials to find approved ways of mixing public and private monies for the project. At issue was increased federal scrutiny of commercial sponsorships of public buildings.

"Steve's experience and wisdom have been important to our success," said Potter. "His vision, his integrity and his leadership have been essential. Without his contributions these projects would not be happening."

Ludwig has announced his retirement, effective at the end of the academic school year.

- Jeff Wood

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