Office of the President

Fall 2014 Faculty and Staff Fall Convocation

Address by President Earl H. Potter III

Thank you, Richard, for that welcome and for your guidance and expertise as we continue our search for a new Provost.

Welcome everyone to the start of fall 2014. It’s great to see you all returning to campus ready to continue the great work that’s makes St. Cloud State unique and the choice of about 16,000 students who will be here ready to learn in just a few days.

That’s not to say work stopped at St. Cloud State during the summer. As many in this room well know, higher education work is year-round and doesn’t stop just because the weather is nice. However, I hope you have been able to find time to relax and recharge.

Faculty and staff have been hard at work, to name a few, at taking the beginning steps with the development of a comprehensive facilities plan, work with the Higher Learning Commission’s Quality Initiative, development of a campus-wide plan for way finding and exterior signage, introducing the campus’ new dog in town, the new secondary logo in athletics and creating marketing-focused academic program web pages to improve messaging about what St. Cloud State has to offer. Staff also have been preparing, redesigning and upgrading office, classroom and exterior spaces and, of course, faculty and students have been teaching and learning all summer.

The same holds true for the on-going hard work being done by our state legislators. Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Representative Zachary Dorholt, Senator John Pederson and Representative Tama Theis to our Convocation opening event.

The leadership of these legislators and our St Cloud State University delegation did great work for our campus this past session by providing funding that will make Eastman… yes Eastman, one of our focal points on campus. There are still plenty of good years left in that wonderful old building. Thanks to legislative funding, architects and engineers are working on a design that will turn the building into a health facility for student-service and academic purposes. The redesign will allow for experiential learning opportunities for St. Cloud State, as well as neighboring St. Cloud Technical and Community College. I also would like to recognize Corie Beckerman, Monica Devers and John Frischmann for their vision of what this building could be.

As you could see by the names scrolling across the screen when you were entering the auditorium, this is the first Convocation for 65 new faculty, staff and administrators. All of these people bring expertise and value to their new roles. Please help me welcome them.

I look forward to working with you all.

I would like to take just a moment to introduce you to a few of these individuals:

Bruce Busby started in July as the new associate provost for student success/dean of University College. Bruce has served as associate vice chancellor for academic success at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, supporting access, retention and enrollment management.   Jesse Cashman became the university’s first assistant vice president for safety and risk management in June. He joins us from Augsburg College in the Twin Cities.Thy Yang is the new associate vice president for international studies. Thy comes to us from Michigan Technological University, where she has served as director of international programs and services.

Besides interim provost Green, there have been interim appointments for deans in the Herberger Business School and the School of Public Affairs following the departure of deans Diana Lawson and Orn Bodvarsson. Dr. Walter Roettger is interim dean of the Herberger Business School and Dr. King Banaian is interim dean of the School of Public Affairs as we conduct searches for permanent positions this fall.

These management appointments will help guide the University forward, but it’s the important day-to-day work of our faculty and staff that truly make this place tick. Alongside our valued veteran employees, we are welcoming new talents to campus with faculty such as Ryan Fink and Andrew Rummel, visualization engineer Mark Gill in ISELF’s Visualization Lab, Susan Anderson in Records and Registration and Hailey Olson, assistant director in Career Services. Whether you’ve been here for 20 years or 2 weeks, I hope you take pride in knowing that the work you do helps us continue to grow as one of the great universities in the country.

Less than a month ago, St. Cloud State's standing as one of America's great universities was affirmed by two national magazines: Forbes and Money. St. Cloud State sits among the top 9 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities based on quality of education, affordability and outcomes according to Money magazine. We are in the elite 23 percent of colleges and universities based on student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rate and academic success in Forbes magazine.

On a related note, St. Cloud metropolitan area is 24th on Forbes magazine’s “Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers.” St. Cloud State is contributing to the improvement in the strength and reputation of our greater community.  There are other community rankings which reflect positively on St. Cloud and clearly St. Cloud State is a significant factor in all of them—and we’re proud to continue our partnership in making these enhancements happen. Our contributions have helped make St. Cloud one of the 10 Most Exciting Places in Minnesota according to Movoto Real Estate. Our graduates in the medical field have helped make St. Cloud Hospital one of the nation’s 100 Great Community Hospitals by Becker’s Hospital Review. And our own Community Garden, one of the highlight’s of our community engagement work, was voted WCCO TV’s viewer’s choice for Minnesota’s Best Community Garden.

Rankings are a great way to highlight and gain acknowledgement for the work you all do. You should take great pride in having recognition among the nation’s top colleges. I know it isn’t easy work during these times of uncertainty, including tight budgetary times. Along with that are the calls for change that are prominent in the public dialogue with a focus on the university to look at doing business differently.

Everyone has an opinion about what change should look like including faculty, staff, administration, students, community members and even parents. I’ve heard many ideas and have had several discussions about change. But the change that may have the most meaningful impact on the work we do going forward is Charting the Future, the forward-thinking initiative of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

In addition to Charting the Future and its potential, I am pleased to announce that we have cleared the way for helping further elevate the potential impact of the new ISELF building.  On August 12, the tax-exempt bonds sold to build ISELF and which brought with them Internal Revenue Service challenges, have been turned into taxable bonds opening the way for the development of additional partnerships with a broader range of Central Minnesota business and industry. These partnerships will allow for numerous experiential learning opportunities at St. Cloud State. Our previous work with local businesses have proven to better prepare students for life and work after college and the work we are embarking on this year will be no different.

One exciting opportunity is the College of Science and Engineering’s partnership with GeoComm, a national leader in developing communication technology for use with 9-1-1 calls. GeoComm has partnered with the Visualization Center in ISELF to develop a 3-D prototype system that meets the U.S. government’s expectation that the nation move from 2-D to 3-D response capabilities for all 9-1-1 calls. A 3-D system will allow first responders and dispatchers to identify the location inside the building the caller is located.  First responders will be able to load the information into their system and know what the interior of the building looks like and where exactly to go in the building. In addition to utilizing the expertise of Dr. Adel Ali and Mark Gill, sophomore students Steve Henningsgard and Alex Persian have been intimately involved in the development of this new technology.  The prototype system is nearly finished and GeoComm has already presented the system at their national trade show.  As the technology continues to develop, it will be utilized on campus to enhance the safety of our students and employees.  St. Cloud State will be the only campus in the nation with this technology.

Another partnership with benefit to students and training and recruiting opportunities for area businesses is the new Northwestern Mutual Sales Lab in the Herberger School of Business. Starting next week, students enrolled in Professional Selling and Sales Management courses will experience a state-of-the-art learning environment where they will experience sales presentations in an interactive, real-world business setting. The lab offers a viewing/control room with digital recording capabilities, presentation critiques and real-time instructor/student feedback. The Sales Lab is a technology-driven asset that will provide our students with essential communication, leadership, professional selling, and sales management skills to succeed in the world of sales.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take time during this Convocation address to also discuss Great Places to Work. I’ve participated in numerous listening sessions since the results of the Trust Index survey was announced last spring. I have appreciated the opportunity to engage with many of you in those sessions, as well as in venues outside of those structured sessions; and I’ve taken everything that has been said in those meetings to heart. That is not to say that we have agreed on everything, but we have been able to discuss challenging and uncomfortable issues with a shared commitment to the well-being of our colleagues and our students.  I look forward to more conversations with you this coming year as it relates to continuously improving the work environment for all employees.

I don’t know about you, but it has been an incredibly productive summer and one that provided little break from the on-going needs of the university.  And, frankly, I’m tired. It’s the start of a new year and we’re all working hard and it’s tiring. What sustains me and gives me that boost of energy to continue approaching each new challenge with energy and enthusiasm are the stories of our students and alumni successes. These stories are so uplifting and go a long way to re-charging   my batteries. In an effort to more broadly share stories of recent graduate success, the folks in University Communications have created a series of online stories titled “Fresh Success.” The series features a new story every two weeks that highlights the success of a recent graduate as it directly relates to their experiences and education here at St. Cloud State. The stories are published on the Outlook magazine website and pushed out via social media and email.

One example is Gina Carlson who graduated in May with a mass communications degree. Gina found a way to turn her love for sports into a career at Target Field as a real-time correspondent. Her job is to find social media content during games, which included work during this year’s All-Star Game. And then there’s 2013 graduate Mark Wiese (Wēs), a history teacher at Mankato West High School who was one of just 21 teachers in the country selected for a summer institute in the nation’s capital. While there, he met with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and attended a federal court trial, experience that will be invaluable to his work as a teacher.

There are a dozen or more stories already in the “Fresh Success” queue and I know there are dozens more out there. I encourage you to let University Communications know of these stories so we can continue to recognize our students and graduates who are examples of the quality of work that all of you work so hard every day to achieve.

I may not say it often enough, but let me close by saying I respect you and the work you all do every day to help ensure the success of our students. I appreciate you and how hard you work under sometimes less-than-desirable conditions to “get the job done” and help St. Cloud State be the best it can be.

Before I close, I want to personally invite all of you to an ice cream social on the Atwood Mall immediately following Opening Convocation.  May this be the first of many events where the campus community can gather for fun and fellowship in our workplace.  Meet someone new; introduce yourself to someone you haven’t yet met; and enjoy this opportunity to set an invigorating tone to the start of the new school year.

And, I wish each of you all the best as we get to work on an exciting new year.