Everyone Deserves Credit

On behalf of the many partners who have come together in the past year to strengthen and redefine relationships between the St. Cloud State University campus and the broader community, I thank the Times Editorial Board for recognizing the significance of this movement in its “Difference Makers” editorial Sunday. While I deeply appreciate being honored as the catalyst for these “important and far-reaching changes,” I believe the credit should be shared with countless other groups and individuals who are doing so much to effect that change, including:

St. Cloud State faculty, staff and students who have helped to begin a culture change that has spilled out beyond the perimeters of campus. Bold initiatives – including the UChoose program and strengthened enforcement of the Student Code of Conduct – are teaching students to make responsible choices now and throughout their lives. Anti-racism education and grassroots outreach efforts are showing the community our students are learning what it means to care about each other with courage and character. Sustainability planning and projects by faculty, staff and students committed to creating a better environment promise to help community activists build a better future for all of us.

University neighbors and landlords who have welcomed campus actions to build better relationships with the students who live among them. Their positive response to and collaboration in efforts aimed at subduing move-in day and homecoming activities and enhancing peace and safety in the South Side have gone a long way toward making those efforts successful.

St. Cloud’s city leaders and law enforcement personnel who have recognized that working together benefits both the campus and the community, and when one succeeds the other succeeds as well. Mayor and St. Cloud State graduate Dave Kleis has been a true partner in the community-building endeavors that are making a positive difference in our environment.

Our region’s legislative delegation, whose unwavering support has made all the difference in laying the foundation for a new corridor from the Civic Center to a regional events center at the location of the National Hockey  Center, as well as a science education center that will make our campus a vital resource for the future of our state.  These plans herald stunning changes for our community and for our students.

Alumni and other university friends who have stepped up with creative, generous and forward-looking ideas and support that promise to take St. Cloud State to a higher level of excellence among regional universities.  Their confidence in our university’s increasingly strong future has been a tonic for our campus community and has brought positive attention to Minnesota’s second largest university.

Our regional educational partners, including the St. Cloud Technical College, Saint John’s University, College of Saint Benedict and area school districts.  The community benefits from the cooperation and collaboration among our educational institutions. We give learners of all ages better opportunities when we share our talent, ideas and resources.

The St. Cloud business community, who so enthusiastically embraced the first “Welcome Back Students” campaign in St. Cloud. “Welcome” decals on hundreds of store, restaurant and business windows throughout the community have sent a strong message to students that their positive impact is recognized. Not only do these students and the university have a tremendous and increasingly vital effect on the region’s economy, they strengthen its labor pool and enrich the community with immeasurable cultural and educational benefits.

All these and many other partners are contributing to a significant shift that is occurring in this community. Changing attitudes and practices in St. Cloud are enhancing our potential to become a university town characterized by pride and appreciation for the good living we all derive from sharing resources and ideas. While we recognize difficult times are ahead, our experience working together the last two years gives me confidence that we’re strong and ready for the future.

Published in the Jan. 6, 2009, St. Cloud Times.