2013 Faculty and Staff Spring Convocation

Streaming Video of 2013 Spring Convocation

Provost Malhotra’s welcome and remarks:

Good Morning everybody. Colleagues and Friends, as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, it is my privilege to welcome you to “part 2” of the 2013 Academic Year. I hope you had time with family and friends over winter break and that you come back to campus refreshed and ready to re-engage in your work at the university. It is great to see you all back on campus.

If Fall Convocation is a time to celebrate what we have accomplished as a university and to anticipate the work that lies ahead of us, January Convocation gives us the opportunity to reflect on our progress. This fall, we spent considerable time discussing our proposal to the Higher Learning Commission’s for a Quality Initiative that is a required component of our accreditation process. The Strategic Planning Committee has engaged the campus in conversations about the details of our proposal that centers around four critical questions.

  • What attributes do we strive to develop and strengthen in our students?
  • How do we insure these attributes are integrated into learning opportunities across the University?
  • How do we measure and report on how we are doing?
  • How do we use this information to enhance student learning and growth over time?
  • We are ready to bring the discussion of this proposal to a close so we can submit it to the Higher Learning Commission peer review team during the early part of spring semester and begin implementation this summer. The Chancellor’s Office has provided funds to support the implementation as part of their “Extraordinary Education” initiative. We will use these funds to support direct faculty engagement in its implementation. The Strategic Planning Committee has created opportunities for you to share comments on the proposal draft, including an Open Meeting on January 17. I encourage you to participate in these discussions as well as look for opportunities to be part of implementation teams that will be formed after its approval.

Speaking of Extraordinary Education, I initiated a program of Provost’s Action Grants to fund Action Projects that were identified as part of the Extraordinary Education process last spring. The call went out during fall semester, and I was extremely pleased with the quality of response I received. Through the Provost’s Action Grants process, we have funded 19 academic initiatives with nearly $168,000 in grant funding. These initiatives have the potential to directly and substantially impact the learning experience for our students.

Projects such as the “Hands on Technology to Simulate Aging” through the Gerontology Program will provide students with a simulation of the physical experiences of aging to help them develop a better understanding of the processes of aging as well as better prepare them for their future careers working with older adults.  The “Applied Structural Genomics” program through the Biology Department will provide structured opportunities to proactively engage more undergraduate students in hands-on research and strength partnerships with our community college partners. The “Child Advocacy Certificate” Program is a joint effort between Social Work and Criminal Justice to provide working professionals with a common knowledge base to respond to child maltreatment. The grant funds will support the development of a Home Investigation Mock House which simulates an investigative scene to provide hands-on experience for our students. A final example is the development of a “Global Pedagogy and Competence Conference” through a collaborative effort between Global Studies, History, Ethnic and Women’s Studies and Learning Resources. Grant funds will be used to develop a conference open to all faculty and staff in the MnSCU system to connect existing and emerging initiatives in global pedagogy, to discuss best practices and to articulate mechanisms for assessment. These projects are shining examples of the kinds of signature learning experiences  available to our students.

Now our attention turns to spring semester. Given the increasing attention of the state legislature and the MnSCU Board of Trustees on student progress and success, we must continue and even “step up” our efforts to provide clear pathways for student degree completion and to eliminate any unnecessary requirements or institutional or curricular hoops that impede their progress. We have received clear direction from the system office regarding providing student learning outcome data for all of our courses. I appreciate the program faculty’s response to these requirements and expect we will meet the deadlines established by the system by the end of the year. We will continue efforts related to the maintenance of accurate degree maps so that our students have an accurate and clear picture of how to make timely progress toward completing their degree within the 120-credit legislative maximum.
 
As I expressed in my fall convocation comments, developing strong partnerships with key transfer institutions is a strategic move that will allow us to manage and even grow our enrollments. In February, we will host staff from our largest 2-year partner institutions for a half-day with the express purpose of exploring ways that we can work together to improve transfer student success. Through these discussions I expect to challenge our 2-year counterparts – and expect them to challenge us in return – to set aside our institutional biases and operating procedures and really delve into what we can do collectively to educate and support transfer students. Not from the perspective of first your student and then my student but from the perspective of “our” student in which we approach their education as a shared responsibility – regardless of where they are in their educational path.

We are also completing and putting in a new organizational structure for Enrollment Management.  Given our heightened focus on student success, and the importance of early communication with the potential students and facilitating their ease of transition into our institution, we are proposing to integrate the work of recruitment of students, with our Financial Aid and Student Success apparatus. Dean of the University College and Associate Provost for Student Success will have the overall responsibility for strategic positing of institution with regard to enrollment management. Both Admissions Office as well as Financial Aid will report to Associate Provost and Dean of University College. We are currently sharing this information the information with the bargaining units. After consultation with them the President will make the final decision, which would be communicated to all of you.

I do not need to tell you that the pace of change has been dramatic for our institution, and by all accounts, it does not appear that the pace will be slowing down any time soon. Like many of you, I am concerned about the load we all carry as a result of the increased expectations in the face of declining resources. But as has been demonstrated again and again at our institution, we have developed a remarkable capacity to manage change. We continue to find creative ways to work together and develop collaborative solutions to the challenges we face.  I am convinced it is because of your commitment to our students and to this institution that we continue to making progress toward achieving our vision of positively transforming our students and the communities where they live and work.

Thank you for your creative energy, your commitment to your students and your ongoing dedication to St. Cloud State University. I look forward to working with you toward another successful spring semester.
Thank you.

Emergency Procedures Guide instruction video:

Address by President Earl H. Potter III

Good morning.  Welcome to the spring semester of 2013!  I hope you all had a good break.  And I hope that you had an opportunity to get away and spend time with loved ones and less time with work-related activities.  I did and now I am ready to get back to work.  I know that you are too.

It is our mission to prepare students for life, work and citizenship in the 21st century…a commitment that we share with many institutions across the country.

At St. Cloud State University we have determined that one of the things that all of our graduates must have in order to succeed in this century is the ability to live and work in a multi-cultural, global community.  That’s why we recently engaged the entire campus in developing a plan aimed at lending clarity to our international strategic vision. These conversations led to a shared understanding that the internalization and globalization of the university and the education we offer is no longer a choice but an imperative. 

St. Cloud State has long offered rich international opportunities and we have benefited for many years from a large and diverse international student body.  However, if we are going to prepare every graduate for life in a global community, we must do more.  We must increase the array of opportunities, integrate internationalization into the curriculum and strengthen the infrastructure we have to support students who take on the challenge of building global understanding.

This morning I am going to focus on the commitment we have made to prepare our students to live in a global community. 

As many of you probably are aware, in recent years I have traveled to China, India, Nepal, Chile, South Africa and other nations to meet with leaders of colleges and universities as well as government and business leaders to initiate or renew partnerships that have the promise of strengthening our international programs. 

One of the things that I learned in traveling to so many places is that internationalization is no longer “out there someplace.”  St. Cloud is now an international community and Minnesota is an international state. During the last school year, 60,000 students spoke more than 200 languages in Minnesota schools.  A growing segment of our local population is comprised of recent or second-generation Americans from the Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Laos, Vietnam, Mexico or other African, Asian or Latin American regions.  New Americans now make up nearly 10% of the population of the St. Cloud metropolitan area, up from about 4% in 2000.  English is not the first language for more than 25% of students in St. Cloud’s public elementary schools.
 
Fueled by these population changes, the nature, scale and scope of diversity in our community continue to bring new challenges as well as new opportunities.  Many of our coworkers, neighbors, and fellow citizens recently have moved to our region from many nations.  We would be remiss if we did not develop an inclusive environment in which we learn from each other and together prepare to live in a diverse, global community.

The internationalization of our campus must be broad and deep.  It must go beyond bringing students here and sending students abroad for international experiences.

Associate Vice President for International Affairs Ann Radwan and her staff at the Center for International Studies are doing a fine job of keeping the foundation of our internationalization strong.  With 1,025 international students from 82 countries here this semester and hundreds of students each year in 32 education-abroad programs, their work is indeed challenging and significant.

From our first program in Aalborg, Denmark -- begun in 1973 – 10,000 St. Cloud State students and 700 faculty and staff have benefitted from strong education-abroad opportunities. 

A good example of students who have benefited from study abroad is 1990 graduate Heidi MacPherson.  She participated in the Alnwick program while working toward her Bachelor of Arts, then graduated Summa Cum Laude, in English and creative writing from SCSU. Following graduation, she returned to the United Kingdom and became a dual national. Macpherson received a doctorate in Contemporary North American Women’s Writing from the University of Newcastle in 1996 and began her academic career at the University of Central Lancashire.  She is now back in the United States bringing years of international experience to her role of Provost as the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

We continue to expand our international learning opportunities.  For example, three St. Cloud State nursing students returned last month from a month-long education abroad experience working in hospitals and with health care agencies in Concepcion, Chile. In reporting on the benefits of her experience, nursing student Diana Gehrman said: “Ultimately, I think that our study abroad experience will forever change our perspective on world healthcare, culture, and language. We've learned about how different other countries are, and how that contributes to their greatness, not only in healthcare, but as a way of life. The importance of respecting others and the way they live, the patience we learned, and the lifelong friends that we met will forever impact our lives.  We can't offer enough thanks for providing and allowing us to participate in this experience which we are certain will undoubtedly make us better nurses, increasing our abilities to care for our future patients.”

Built on an 11-year foundation of solid relationship-building in Chile by Anthropology Professor Rob Lavenda, the partnership with the Universidad de Concepcion has yielded wide-ranging benefits for both institutions and their communities that were not anticipated even as the relationship matured. American nursing students focused on Spanish language acquisition in order to serve their Chilean clients in public health facilities in and near Concepcion. In the spirit of reciprocity, nursing students from Chile have come to St. Cloud to take courses, to intern at Centra Care and they provided public health support to the local Latino-Latina community NGO’s by translating opportunities for health care and workplace safety.

Every day we offer meaningful educational experiences to our students from here and abroad.  These are activities that have implications not only for the individuals involved, but their future spheres of influence.

Right now we have 35 students and six faculty and staff on a short-term education-abroad experience in Laos, Thailand and Malaysia, led by Hmong American political science professor Shoua Yang.  These students do academic work before they leave to lay a foundation for an experience that for most becomes an emotional journey.  One of their stops will be at the Mekong River – to pay homage at the place where Dr. Yang’s sister died crossing.  This visit to the roots of their heritage may not be that acutely personal for all the Hmong American students on this education abroad experience.  But the 222 students who have gone on previous learning trips to Laos and Thailand all report being deeply moved by their experience.  Most are second-generation Americans and know little about the homeland of their parents and other elders.  In going back they learn about the culture, religions and educational institutions that influenced their family traditions.  They learn about the acute poverty and lack of opportunity for their cousins and others who still live there, and they return to Minnesota talking about a new appreciation for the liberties and opportunities of the America they have learned to love more deeply.

African Americans and recent Americans from Somalia and Ethiopia have been similarly changed by South Africa experiences.  Since the first education abroad opportunities for St. Cloud State students, faculty and staff began in the mid 1990s – a time when Apartheid was just emerging – 567 faculty, staff and students have been exposed to the history of South African society and culture and studies in South Africa-U.S. race relations through spring break or semester-long studies in that country.  Programs for future teachers and nursing students offer special educational experiences.  158 students have been involved in semester-long study in South Africa, including those who have taken part in a First-Year Experience program as freshmen.  These first-year students take a course about South African society and race relations, then enroll for spring semester at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. 

Efforts led by Robert C. Johnson, professor of Ethnic Studies, and Shahzad Ahmad, director of Multicultural Student Services, have built and sustained these significant experiences.  For many the most transformative is the visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held in a tiny cell for years before emerging to become leader of the nation that once imprisoned him for speaking out for equality and social justice.  Professor Johnson, who directs the Access and Opportunity program, also has earned well-deserved acclaim for his summer math-science-computer pipeline programs that provide transformative experiences for schoolchildren who often for the first time see college in their future.  He truly is doing it locally and globally.

Just as thousands of our students have had life-altering education abroad experiences through St. Cloud State during the past four decades, nearly 7,000 international students have come to St. Cloud State for their education, then left their footprints in endeavors around the world.  A good example is Gu Limin, better known to our campus community as George.  After graduating in 1999, George went back to Shanghai to become China’s leading authority on training and development.

St. Cloud State has been widely recognized for its work in internationalization.  Our success has been acknowledged by prestigious organizations that recognize and support international higher education. I’d like to share some examples of the distinctions the university has earned:

  • Recently St. Cloud State became a member of the International Association of Universities.  Many of the university’s international partners, including Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, also are participants in the organization that supports access and success in higher education throughout the world, promoting together the principles of freedom, justice, human dignity and solidarity. In November I attended the 14th IAU General Conference in Puerto Rico and met with these partners to talk about our future work together.
  • SCSU received the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers Region IV Internationalization Achievement Award this year. This is recognition by the association of international educators for institutions that are making strides, being innovative and committed to comprehensive internationalization of their campuses.
  • In its most recent data, the Institute of International Education Open Doors Data lists St. Cloud State 13th national among masters’ institutions for its number of international students.  The university is listed 33rd in the nation among master’s institutions for its number of students participating in study-abroad programs.
  • U.S News & World Report’s 2012 best colleges listings ranked St. Cloud State 10th among regional universities for its number of international students. 
  • The Institute of International Education Open Doors listed St. Cloud State #8 in its ranking of U.S. colleges and universities attended by African students in 2010-2011.  St. Cloud State had 228 students from Africa.

This recognition is indicative of our long tradition and deep commitment to international education on our campus and sites that provide opportunities abroad.  Moving forward with greater engagement with international students, faculty, institutions, businesses and leaders is not a choice for us.  It is an imperative. 

We have many opportunities to expand and extend our impact. We honestly are recognized globally as a leader.  We are doing it right, forming deep and rich partnerships. Already we have major nodes of effort and strength across the globe, and we are working to develop even more opportunities for faculty and staff to expand their efforts on a global scale and to incorporate internationalization into our curriculum and throughout university activities.

You are part of this.  These honors and distinctions in internationalization are because of you, the faculty and staff who innovate, motivate, create and care.  You recognize the value of reaching for more and succeed in doing so in internationalization as well as all our successful endeavors.

Now I’m going to talk about a few of the hundreds of faculty and staff who are doing important work to make broader and deeper internationalization of our campus a reality.  But before I do, please take a moment to look around you at all the individuals who are involved in this important work.  Because there are so many of you who are an integral part of our work on internationalization, I hesitate to single out a few.  But I think these individuals represent well the dramatic scope of our reach as well as the potential for so much more.  They are good examples of our faculty’s work in strengthening our global focus: 

  • Under the leadership of Interim Dean Orn Bodvarsson, the School of Public Affairs is carrying out an international agenda that is bringing a strong international dimension to its curriculum, student experiential learning and research, faculty research, and community outreach. As a result of this work, there is a new partnership between the School of Public Affairs and the Zhou Enlai School of Government at Nankai University that is expected to lead to faculty and student exchanges; Conversations with other universities are underway and likely to lead to other collaborations in international education that will benefit students and faculty.
  • Sociology Professor Abbas Mehdi’s experience in international affairs has enriched our community’s understanding of the connections between local and global issues and provided useful insights on current global events and their implications for higher education and the Minnesota business environment. Dr. Mehdi has worked at the World Bank in Washington, DC, as the Iraq representative and served as the Chairman of the Board of the Iraq National Investment Commission. In Minnesota, he has worked with the National Guard to train personnel and foster cross-cultural understanding. In the past several years he has established relationships with a range of national and international organizations, including the U.S. government, the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations, the League of Arab States and the International Organization for Migration, in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Women’s Studies Professor Mumbi Mwangi has initiated projects and activities in and outside of the classroom through which students learn and participate in addressing contemporary global social and political issues, particularly in Africa.  She has led education abroad opportunities and independent studies internships in Tanzania and opened new avenues for students to cultivate and establish ethics of service and cultural goodwill.  She has initiated national and global activities including the founding of NGATHA International to facilitate thrift and humanitarian aid.   She engages the campus and St. Cloud community in supporting the NGATHA Orphanage and Learning in Kenya to provide quality primary school education for children whose parents have died of HIV/Aids.   Her organization also is embarking on building a $100,000.00 US-dollar health clinic in rural Kenya with help and support from the three major health providers in the St. Cloud area.

  • As another example of combining local and global efforts to make a difference, Communication Studies Professor Eddah Mutua has worked tirelessly on issues involving post-genocide Rwanda, using a collaborative approach to promoting cultural knowledge exchange between Rwanda and St. Cloud. Students enrolled in Mutua’s intercultural communication classes have shown support for Rwandans’ efforts to reconstruct their country. They have organized two international service-learning projects that support sustainable peacebuilding efforts in Rwanda. Locally she has encouraged and enhanced civic engagement and intergroup dialogue at SCSU and the local community, most notably through Communicating Common Ground.  This is a nationally recognized and award winning service-learning project that continues to engage our students and diverse representatives from  four local high schools in discussions to promote intercultural and interracial understanding.
  • Working together to internationalize curriculum for the Master’s of Engineering Management program, five years ago Professor Ben Baliga and Professor Emeritus Warren Yu designed an annual industrial tour to Chinese sites in order to offer students a global perspective on their studies.  Participants in this successful cohort program are executives from Twin Cities companies that primarily have operations throughout the world.  These graduate students have had the advantage of meeting with top leadership at Chinese companies and offices of U.S. corporations, as well as government owned and joint venture companies, with time for discussion and exposure to both business and cultural aspects of Chinese life.  The tour also is open to industry CEOs.  This innovative component of a graduate program tailored to the needs of our Minnesota business community has been a popular and valuable learning experience.
  • Associate Professor of Special Education Kathy Johnson is another example of a faculty member who is expanding our reach across the globe, particularly in China.  Many of the projects and partnerships she has led involve advocacy for persons with disabilities and support our university’s alignment with the International Association of Universities Education for All initiative.  In June of 2011, Johnson met Zhao Chun Li, "Angel", in Yangshuo, China. Angel had been locked in hiding during President Clinton's presidential visit to her rural fishing village in 1998, but in April 2012, the two were able to meet in Washington, DC. This reunion has lead to the development of a Commitment to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative that consists of building a bi-lingual inclusive school and teacher training in China. Angel and Dr. Johnson were invited to attend the CGI Annual Meeting in NYC in September 2012, where President Clinton invited Angel to the stage to share "their story.”  Dr. Johnson and Angel have also been invited to present at three major international conferences this next year on disabilities in China.
  • Faculty members Christopher Thoms and Mikhail Blinnikov, who also is director of Global Studies, are involved in a new education abroad model for St. Cloud State aimed at creating a 360-degree global experience. A course in Experiencing Nepal: Environment & Society in the Himalayas – an academic and life experience dubbed Nepal 2013 – is the pilot for an emerging education abroad program that will have general themes and move to a different country each year. This approach is similar in concept to the Google earth map approach -- a satellite view taken down to a micro-level. Learning about a country globally and locally will take place with studies that include environmental issues, political and economic relations, social diversity and public health.
  • Educational Leadership and Higher Education Professor Christine Imbra has been instrumental in an institutional partnership with the University of Macerata, founded in 1290 and the second oldest university in Italy.  As a result of this agreement, the first graduate-only summer education abroad trip to Italy was launched in May 2011 in the Higher Education Administration program. The course was designed and developed by graduate students in collaboration with Professor Imbra.  The course is also distinctive because graduate students are placed in a 20-hour internship working side-by-side with Italian academic and student affairs professionals, learning about the Italian higher education system.  Each April, Dr. Imbra’s counter-part at UNIMC brings her doctoral students to SCSU for to participate in a 20-hour internship in our academic and student affairs offices.
  • Professor of Religious Studies Joseph Edelheit has just returned from his third visit to the Pontefical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, where he participated in interfaith programs during RIO+20 this past summer and was the first rabbi to lecture in a Mosque in Rio.  He has spoken to students at interfaith gatherings at Jewish schools and at the largest Catholic school in Rio.  He returned to Rio during this past break to discuss future seminars for faculty on how to teach about Jews and Jewish life in their Christian curricula. He has consulted with the first museum of the Inquisition and a new museum and memorial to the European Exiles that came to Brazil. He also has continued his long time work in HIV/AIDS with a pediatric clinic and the largest Rio AIDS organization and has worked to establish the groundwork for what he hopes will be a production of “To Be Certain of the Dawn” Holocaust memorial oratorio in Rio de Janeiro on the 75th anniversary of the November 1938 Pogrom.

Our faculty has had several Fulbright Scholars in recent years.  Two faculty members will have the rare distinction of representing St. Cloud State as Fulbright research scholars this year.

  • Jason Lindsey, Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department, is representing St. Cloud State as a Fulbright Scholar this Spring at the "Yaroslav the Wise Law Academy of Ukraine."  Professor Lindsey is scheduled to teach both an undergraduate course on American Government and a graduate course in Political Theory there, as well as conduct the usual outreach activities expected of visiting Fulbright Scholars.
  • Math faculty member Jeff Chen is on leave as a Fulbright research scholar this year at Inner Mongolia Normal University in China. He is studying the history of mathematics in late Imperial China with a focus on spherical trigonometry in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Committee two years ago chose Artatrana Ratha, professor of economics, and G.N. Rangamani, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, for work they conducted independently in India.  Lakshmaiah Sreerama, professor of biochemistry, was selected by the committee for work he did in Nepal.

Support through the Office of Sponsored Programs enables these Fulbright scholars in taking advantage of time away for significant study and work that enriches their teaching.

The role of faculty and staff in internationalization of our university cannot be overstated.  From design and delivery of education abroad and global internships to engagement in research and collaborations that internationalize programs and curriculum, faculty as well as administrators must be at the forefront. 

It’s up to all of us to facilitate new transformative activities and experiences that will lead to global and cultural understanding. 

We’ve talked for years on this campus about the benefits and beauty of our increasing diversity.  Together we are strengthening connections and expanding opportunities for our students, our faculty and staff and our community to embrace the multicultural environment that is now our reality. 

We have thousands of graduates who are working around the world or with companies and institutions that function internationally.  Those numbers will be climbing exponentially in our lifetime.  It is our responsibility to ensure that each of our graduates is ready for this global workforce and global society.