Office of the President

Fall 2015 Faculty and Staff Fall Convocation

Address by President Earl H. Potter III

Thank you, Ashish, and welcome to your first semester as Provost of St. Cloud State University.

Welcome everyone to the start of fall 2015. For many, it seems like summer has flown by with little break and I thank you for your continued work and efforts, which have resulted in a balanced budget for fiscal year 2016, plus signs of enrollment improvements and much more. I do hope, however, that you all found some time the past couple months to rest and get ready for the campus to truly come alive starting tomorrow when we welcome new incoming freshman and transfer students to campus. I’m proud to say that we remain on track to have an increase in new-student enrollment this year and are experiencing improved retention. This was only possible thanks to campus-wide efforts and is just one of the many reasons to be excited for 2015-2016.

The start of the academic year is always a lively time on campus, but this year we all will be experiencing more excitement than normal with the change to a four-day orientation and the introduction of the Huskies First Four. I want to thank everyone who has worked diligently to move the University to the Huskies First Four, which will have students on campus bright and early tomorrow morning moving in and preparing for classes to start on Monday with events throughout the weekend.

The move to a four-day orientation will help students be better prepared for success at St. Cloud State by giving them an improved introduction to college expectations and support services. It also has given us the opportunity to look differently at our combined efforts on campus from orientation through the first semester and beyond. The Huskies First Four pulls together Move-In, Orientation, Welcome Weekend and Huskies Kick-Off to take students through their first four days, four weeks, four months and on to success throughout their next four years.

Note that with this change, the actual move-in day for new students will be tomorrow, Aug. 20. The move to a weekday will require some change for all faculty and staff, and one area most of you will be affected by this change is in parking. So tomorrow morning as you are making your way to college and department meetings, convocation sessions and workshops, expect traffic, be patient and be sure to welcome our new students and families. And as you should have seen in broadcast email messages, remember to park in K-lot and ride the Husky Shuttle as the north campus lots will be reserved for move-in activities. I understand this may be an inconvenience for some, and for those with disability parking passes, please contact Public Safety if you haven’t already to verify the closest parking available to your destination. For those riding the shuttle from K-lot, I’ll see you in the Husky Hub for coffee before boarding the bus, and thank you in advance for making Move-In Day a welcoming experience for our new students who will now call St. Cloud State home.

The ride on the shuttle may be an opportunity for some of you to meet new additions to the St. Cloud State employee roster. This is the first fall Convocation for 31 new faculty, staff and administrators whose names scrolled across the screen as you were entering the auditorium. If this is your first convocation, please stand. Welcome to St. Cloud State (applause). We look forward to working with you all.

I would like to take just a moment to introduce you to a few individuals in new leadership roles:

As has been stated, Ashish Vaidya became our new provost in July. His guidance, leadership and candor has already made an impact in the few short weeks he has been here and I’m sure he will continue to help us move forward. Ashish will provide key leadership to St. Cloud State as we look to refining our academic offerings to best meet the needs of central Minnesota and beyond. Following this presentation, there will be a welcome reception for our new provost and an Ice Cream Social. I hope you will take the time to come say hello.  

Also new to campus is Herberger Business School Dean Dave Harris and Interim Dean of Graduate Studies Marilyn Hart. Welcome.

There also have been two appointments that will help guide our work with assessment. David Switzer has been named our faculty director of University Assessment and Steve Hornstein is our faculty co-chair of HLC Accreditation.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the work and dedication of Vice Presidents Tammy McGee, Matt Andrew and Wanda Overland. Their involvement in multiple projects this past year has helped focus our efforts as we look to the future.  

I also would like to take this time to acknowledge the work of Governor Dayton and the legislature this past session. Our local legislative delegation worked very hard for our university and we appreciate their unwavering support. We continue to work with legislators on our Eastman project and we hosted a successful legislative tour last week. Thank you to all who have moved this project forward. There is much to be done to revive that wonderful old building and I look forward to the impact the renovated Eastman will have on academics and student services.

In the year ahead, we will be focused on students and working collectively toward our assessment goals. We have the tools to help us do the job through Our Husky Compact, which we will discuss shortly. But first I want to acknowledge some recent faculty accomplishments that remind us of the talent, knowledge and experience that continues to make St. Cloud State a great place for students and especially the community.

Astronomy and Physics Professor Annette Lee made two presentations earlier this month on her research and programming initiative, Native Skywatchers, at the world’s most prestigious astronomy conference: The 29th International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Honolulu, Hawaii. Annette’s remarkable program to revitalize and rebuild the star knowledge of the Ojibwe and Dakota/Lakota people connects with the region through workshops that weave together art, science and culture. Thank you for representing this programming and the University on the international stage.

Leading the St. Cloud State Community Garden for the past 10 years has taught Tracy Ore a number of life lessons as she has grown vegetables and a community. She shared those life lessons through “Life Lessons Cultivated in a Garden,” a 12-minute TEDx talk she presented at the TEDxGeorgeSchool event in June in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Tracy was one of 17 people to speak at the event, which explored the future of education. If you haven’t watched the video, I encourage you to look it up on YouTube or in the faculty/staff section of

Also making an impact in the community recently were Communication Studies professors Jeff Ringer and Roseanna Ross. Jeff and Roseanna accepted the 2015 Spirit of Peace Award at the Minneapolis Conflict Resolution Center’s Volunteers Dinner for their work at the St. Cloud Conflict Resolution Center and community conflict resolution services. These two recognized the need for alternative dispute resolution services in St. Cloud, so in 2013 they worked with the Conflict Resolution Center in Minneapolis to open the organization’s satellite office in St. Cloud. Last year the St. Cloud center volunteers provided basic mediation training to 12 Somali elders and community members and hosted a training on trauma and restorative justice in St. Cloud in conjunction with the Minneapolis center. This work will surely continue to make a needed impact on the entire St. Cloud community.

Valerie Knopp was recognized for her service to student employment on campus with a Student Employment Administrator of the Year Award from the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators. Valerie is a ten-year veteran of the Financial Aid Office. Last year, St. Cloud State employed 2,475 student employees who worked 525,477 hours to help fund their schooling and further the university’s mission.

These are just a few accomplishments that show how we as faculty and staff are leading by example to show our academic commitments to students in line with Our Husky Compact. Although still new to many of you, Our Husky Compact embodies the essential and cross-cutting attributes of a St. Cloud State education that we value as a community. It is a commitment we make to our students and students make to their education that will set them apart and prepare them to be global citizens of the 21st Century.

When students graduate with a St. Cloud State education, they will:

  • Think creatively and critically
  • Seek and apply knowledge
  • Communicate effectively
  • Integrate existing and evolving technologies
  • Engage as a member of a diverse and multicultural world
  • Act with personal integrity and civic responsibility

It is these commitments and the work we all will participate in throughout the next year that will prepare us for the Higher Learning Commission’s accreditation visit in November 2016. There is much work to be done. While the full launch of Our Husky Compact will take place throughout the next year, faculty and staff work begins now. I encourage you to start by attending the session at 2 p.m. Thursday to learn about how your program fits with Our Husky Compact.

The creation of Our Husky Compact has been a collaborative effort with representatives from throughout campus. I would now like to invite Kristian Twombly to the stage to tell us more about Our Husky Compact, how it was created and what students have had to say about it so far. Kristian is an associate professor of music, and faculty co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. He also is no stranger to the stage having recently performed at the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival at Manhattan’s Abrons Arts Center. Please help me welcome Kristian to the stage.

[Kristian Twombly presentation]

Our Husky Compact will help St. Cloud State accomplish many things, including preparing our students for today’s workforce needs. There are some who see the call for higher education to address workforce needs as contradictory to the fundamental purpose of a university education – the creation of prepared minds and thought leaders. In fact, the truth is the opposite: We are preparing students for success in employment, life and citizenship through a broad education in addition to specific skills training. Today’s employers seek highly-skilled workers with broad knowledge that applies to real-world settings — a workforce training need that is best met through broad-based liberal arts education and that is identified by Our Husky Compact. The AAC&U has identified this through its Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative, which challenges the traditional practice of providing liberal education to some students and narrow training to others in higher ed. I am proud to serve on the LEAP President’s Trust with presidents from all sectors of higher education including liberal arts colleges, community colleges, comprehensive state universities and research universities.

Today’s employers demand more college-educated workers and more engaged and informed citizens. Minnesota’s business and workforce needs are no exception. At St. Cloud State, we support liberal arts education because that is what the workforce, and our state, needs. The six commitments of Our Husky Compact are perfectly in line to help us meet these needs by giving graduates the knowledge, skills and integrity to make a difference, collaborate, take risks and innovate on a global scale.

These are indeed exciting times and I am confident that we have skills, talent, knowledge and expertise to guide us forward. Throughout all of the challenges of balancing the budget for fiscal year 2016, managing our enrollment efforts and the day-to-day issues that can arise, we remain focused on our priorities and vision: To positively transform our students and the communities where they live and work through active discovery, applied knowledge and creative interaction. We are ready for 2015-2016 as we look ahead and prepare for what may come next in fiscal year 2017. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the hard work all of you do to make St. Cloud State a great asset to our students and are community.

Thank you and I look forward to what the year will bring. See you in K-lot tomorrow morning!