Office of the President

2012 Faculty and Staff Spring Convocation

Streaming Video of 2012 Spring Convocation

Address by President Earl H. Potter III

Welcome and thank you for joining us to celebrate the beginning of a New Year and the launch of spring semester 2012. I hope you had opportunities in the past couple of weeks – as Christine and I did – to spend time with family and friends who enrich our lives. 

It’s good to be reminded of the importance of relationships in both our personal and professional lives.  This convocation week has focused on showing us ways to nurture and support the physical, mental, emotional and intellectual health and well-being of ourselves and, in turn, others whose lives we touch. 

We are grateful to our colleagues and guest presenters for sharing their knowledge and good counsel in faculty and staff workshops and other activities that will help us grow stronger as individuals and as a community.  We have talked about the need to reach out to students and others in need of our care and concern, and we have heard many examples of actions taken to help students who are troubled or in distress.

I feel a tremendous sense of pride in what we have accomplished together and what we look forward to achieving as we continue to strengthen our learning community and our external partnerships. 

We have much to celebrate.
To begin with, those of us who have had the privilege of meeting new MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone are excited about his energy, experience and strategic vision for our colleges and universities.  He has spoken passionately about the need for our public institutions to be collaborative and to apply the kind of commitment, courage and creativity that built Minnesota to the task of leading our state back to prosperity. 

Chancellor Rosenstone believes our MnSCU schools play an essential role in growing Minnesota’s economy and opening the doors of educational opportunity to all Minnesotans. To that end, he has pledged that together we will:

  1. Ensure access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans
  2. Be the partner of choice to meet Minnesota’s workforce and community needs, and
  3. Deliver to students, employers, communities and taxpayers the highest value / most affordable option

When he presented his strategic framework to the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Rosenstone received a standing ovation from the students, faculty, staff and administrators who were there.  I share their exhilaration about the future of our MnSCU system and institutions.

Chancellor Rosenstone has engaged MnSCU administrators to help explore opportunities and challenges of potential initiatives that apply his broad objectives.

Winona State University President Judith Ramaley and I have been asked to lead system-wide conversations this spring on four specific issues:

  • Redesign of the classroom experience and curriculum to create signature learning experiences
  • Learning outcomes for all programs
  • Collaboration among faculty across colleges and universities to create the best possible courses and learning experiences that can be shared across the system
  • Redesign e-education (pure and blended courses) to improve quality, enhance learning, increase access, increase students served, and reduce costs.  Create a model that enables courses to be shared across colleges and universities.

The work we have undertaken as a university community gives strong support to the new MnSCU plan and vice versa. 

The Minnesota landscape has changed in terms of higher education funding and of the MnSCU system’s position and proactive direction.  As we respond to internal needs and objectives we must also respond to and align with external agendas.

The work we have done to plan, organize and implement reorganization has been aimed at affirming our own strategic goals.  It also is important that we be aligned with the system’s strategic goals.

I have asked Provost Devinder Malhotra to give us a progress report on what we have accomplished this year as a result of reorganization activities.


Devinder Malhotra, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Friends and colleagues. 

It would be an understatement to say that this last fall was a bit busy. We entered the academic year with a new organizational structure but we had much to do to actually live into the structure that we “Imagined” last year. During the next few minutes, I will touch on the major transition efforts that have been completed or are underway. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing with the full campus community a more comprehensive review of our ongoing efforts.

Throughout the fall, our new colleges and schools have been working to develop their own identity through strategic planning efforts. I hope you have taken the opportunity to participate in your college or school-based discussions that will help define the future of your academic unit. It is my understanding that mission, vision and values were the topic of many of the college and school meetings that occurred yesterday. It is my hope that the college and school level strategic planning would be completed by the end of this semester.

Under the leadership of Dr. Miguel Martinez-Saenz, a team of faculty, staff and administrators has been working this semester to develop a structure and conceptual framework for a University College. Conversations regarding the implementation of a University College model are challenging us to understand more fully who our students are, what their needs are, and what support services will serve them best.  Just this week there was an open forum to share some of the University College Working Group's suggestions including organizational changes, modifications in our approach to advising, living-learning community opportunity for students, an Early Alert System, and an enhanced relationship with SCTCC. I expect the planning work on the University College to conclude this semester with implementation next year.

The University College conversations are informed, in part, by enrollment data analytics work that is being completed by a team of faculty, staff, students and administrators.  The charge of this group was to develop an understanding of the relationship between key student variables on the one hand and enrollment and retention on the other. Better understanding of these relationships will enhance our ability to predict enrollment, improve yield, and target interventions to students who are at a high risk of leaving. We expect to have initial findings early this semester, at which point I will form the Steering Committee on Student Retention and Success. This group will be advisory to me and will be charged with making data-driven policy and procedure recommendations regarding recruitment, retention and student success.

Also in support of student success, we have begun the redesign of the new student orientation program. Under the leadership of Vice President Wanda Overland and Associate Provost Miguel Martinez-Saenz, a Lean project team is working to improve the orientation process for all first-time students, including transfer, non-traditional students and students of color. We expect the redesign work to be completed early this semester with implementation to begin next year.

A major recommendation from ASAOPSA was the creation of a unified technology unit directed by a Chief Information Officer. This summer, we engaged Kaludis Consulting to prepare an assessment and develop recommendations regarding a new technology organization. Last semester, the Strategic Planning Committee hosted Open Forums to gather campus feedback on these recommendations. An Open Forum is scheduled for this afternoon to give you a final opportunity to share your feedback with the SPC. Based on input from the campus, the SPC will provide recommendations to the President regarding structure, leadership, and governance of technology. We will incorporate their recommendations into our thinking and make a final decision on these issues early this semester so we can begin implementation, including the formation of a search committee to hire the new Chief Information Officer.

The movement toward a unified technology structure provides an opportunity for the University to develop a vision for the library at SCSU. Specifically, I have convened the LRS Transition Workgroup to identify the appropriate role of the library today and in the future, including an understanding of the changing role of libraries at universities across the country. Their work has begun under the leadership of Interim Dean Ruth Zietlow.

At the intersection of the discussions of strategic institutional identity and role of technology is the important issue pertaining to the direction of our online and distributed learning efforts. The growth in online courses and programs at SCSU has been a critical area of enrollment growth, much of which has occurred organically. We need to begin to think more strategically about our online activities. To that end, I have convened an Online and Distributed Learning Task Force. Under the direction of Interim Dean Orn Bodvarsson, the task force will identify best practices, standards and procedures that will facilitate the growth of strategically developed, high-quality on-line learning programs. The critical nature of this work requires us to act quickly. I expect the plan to be completed by the end of this semester.

With all of the work that has been completed, there is much work yet to be done. This semester, we will begin a campus-wide conversation about inter, multi and cross disciplinary programs and research on our campus. This was a major area of concern during reorganization and our ability to successfully engage and support this work is vital to our future success. Similar to my approach to reorganization, I plan to provide the campus community my thoughts on possible organizational structures and begin a conversation with the campus on the model that best fits our university. These conversations will be closely linked to the development of the Institutes and Centers that were identified as part of the final reorganized structure. I expect to begin this conversation early this semester and begin implementation next year.

Another area that we must begin to address is space reconfiguration. Last semester, we completed an inventory of our current space configuration and are in the process of gathering space needs and requirements for each of the academic units. With this information in hand, we will begin a campus-wide discussion on what the optimal space distribution should be to support the strategic and programmatic identity of our colleges and schools.

Finally, we must prepare our Quality Initiative for the Higher Learning Commission. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to visit the HLC website to learn more about the redesigned process and new criteria for accreditation. The increasing pressure for accountability and assessment are deeply embedded in this new process.  We will be expected to demonstrate our use of assessment and evidence-based processes to improve our academic and student support programs when we come up for reaccreditation in 2016.

The first step in our reaccreditation efforts is to develop a Quality Initiative proposal that will be implemented beginning next year. Our Quality Initiative should focus on identifying clear institutional learning outcomes for our students with a rigorous assessment program to document student learning leading to improvements. I have asked the Strategic Planning Committee to manage the proposal development process, including a mechanism for vetting the proposal with the campus community. I cannot emphasize the importance of this work, as it aligns both with the expectations of the Higher Learning Commission and with the new MnSCU strategic framework.

Our work during the current academic year has engaged faculty and staff across the campus in focused conversations regarding our future. In many ways our efforts are more difficult than last year. During our reorganization conversations, we had the ability to think conceptually about the new organizational structure. This fall we got down to the business of implementation, which requires us to make specific recommendations, decisions and choices about how we want to operationalize our reorganization. I want to thank the many individuals who have engaged in these conversations – from planning work groups, to surveys, to open forums, to one-on-one conversations and yes all the emails to and from your colleagues. Your engagement in the Transition work is critical to secure our future and our success.  I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the passion, commitment and hard work of a very special colleague, Lisa Foss. As an active partner in the “crime” and a co-conspirator, Lisa has performed admirably. Thank you Lisa and more importantly thank you all. Have a great spring term.


Earl H. Potter III, President

Thank you, Devinder. 

As a result of these changes on our campus and some planned retirements, we have a number of searches underway for leadership positions, including athletic director, deans and associate deans.

We also will soon begin the search for a new Vice President for Administrative Affairs as a result of Steve Ludwig’s plans to retire at the end of the fiscal year.  Steve has done a fantastic job as a committed steward of our physical plant and steadfast leader to the folks who manage our finances.  Steve, you’ll be a tough act to follow.

I’m going to invite Steve to the podium to tell us more about two major facilities projects that we are celebrating this year  -- the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility – or ISELF, and the National Hockey Center.


Steve Ludwig, Vice President for Administrative Affairs

(Transcription not available at this time)


Earl H. Potter III, President

Thank you, Steve, and thank you for your service.

It’s difficult to say goodbye to dedicated people who bring talent and commitment to their work every day.  They all have left their mark and made this a better place for our students and for their colleagues.

Our campus community is strengthened by the many individuals whose enthusiasm and accomplishments are making a difference.  I’d like to talk about just a few of the many outstanding faculty, staff and students whose efforts represent the enormous talent and energy we have on our campus.

  • Assistant Professor of Economics Mónica García-Pérez has been doing significant research on health issues involving immigrant children and children of immigrants – the fastest-growing segment of our population.  Her work will have political, social and public-policy implications. 
  • In addition to being an excellent teacher and mentor to St. Cloud State students for the past 20 years, Physics Professor John Harlander is honored to be co-investigator on an international team of researchers who earned a $1 million NASA grant to evaluate potential future science missions. The team has 11 months to complete its study then will compete for a chance to be awarded a satellite mission with a budget of up to $200 million. 
  • Governor Mark Dayton has appointed three key staff members to significant state appointments in recent months:
  • Adrece Thighman-Nabe, associate director in the Office of Admissions, was appointed to the Council on Black Minnesotans.  She will bring her experience, education and perspective as a higher education professional to this advisory group, the governor and state legislators.
  • Professor of Community Development Margaret Villanueva was appointed to Minnesota’s Chicano Latino Affairs Council.  Her knowledge and experience will help inform the council’s goals for making a difference in the education, economic development, housing and health and other issues as they relate to Chicanos and Latinos in our state.
  • And Jane Olsen, founding director of the university’s Women’s Center, has been appointed as a non-attorney member to the Seventh Judicial District Commission on Judicial Selection.  The Commission recruits and reviews judicial candidates for judgeship vacancies that occur within district courts and openings during the term of a judge on the Worker’s Compensation Court of Appeals.  Jane’s history in advocacy and justice issues will serve her well in this new role.

In addition to their staff responsibilities, both Adrece and Jane serve our campus as adjunct faculty members.

I also want to introduce some students who are smart, involved and motivated individuals who have been helped along the way by the right opportunities and the right mentors who supported their goals and their successes.  They represent the increasingly diverse demographics of our student population. 

Student Government President and Vice President Samantha Ivey and Chris Norton work as a team as student leaders who ooze Husky pride.  Samantha, who began in St. Cloud State’s Department of General Studies Program, is the more visible representative of and for students. Chris – one of St. Cloud State’s 500 student veterans – puts his writing and leadership skills to work in the background.

Intana Chanthirath first came to St. Cloud State in junior high for the Math-Science-Computer Camp, then attended Scientific Discovery Program. She took advantage of the Advanced Preparation Program through Multicultural Student Services and sailed into an active college life working for the biology department, playing with the Percussion Ensemble, and leading activities of UPB and other campus groups. 

Junior Victor Bertrand from France is our first international student to become president of the University Program Board.  His enthusiasm and leadership experience gained from serving last year as National Events Coordinator for UPB made him a natural choice for his position.

Mia Naseth-Phillips is a graduate student who just conducted a successful survey of her fellow nontraditional students – receiving a high percentage of returns with information to use about this growing segment of our enrollment.  Their responses indicated most non-traditional students are returning to school to gain financial mobility, and their biggest needs are financial aid to help support them and their families and classes that are more accommodating to working students. 

Our National MEChA Coordinating Council representative, Mariesther Flores, was elected to the National Council in the role of secretary.  Her responsibilities will include being part of the circle of student leaders who plan the 2012 National Conference.

When you walk around campus this spring, think about these and the thousands of other faculty, staff and students who stand out in their own unique ways to contribute to the excellence of our campus community. 

I will say it again…we do indeed have much to celebrate because outstanding people around us every day are responsible for small and large accomplishments that grace our campus.  Some of the high points of the past semester include:

  • We had our first Celebrate! St. Cloud State event aimed at multiplying opportunities for students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff and community to build on traditions that bring us together in Husky pride.  The Family Weekend, football game and alumni events and concert surpassed all expectations. 
  • We are hosting our third annual Power in Diversity conference later this month to offer programs that empower student and campus leaders to be agents of cultural change and social justice and to use their leadership and mentoring skills to be catalysts for change.  In just three years this conference has become a major force in the region for fostering inclusivity and improving access and retention of diverse campus community members.  The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system recognized the significant value of this conference with its 2010-2011 first place Best Practices in Diversity award.
  • Our first St. Cloud State alumni get-together in Nepal – our largest international group for nearly a decade --  took place at the Hotel Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu.
  • SCSU received the NAFSA Region IV Internationalization Achievement Award, recognition by the association of international educators for institutions that are making strides, being innovative and committed to comprehensive internationalization of their campuses.
  • Campus-wide recognition included being named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.  We received this national honor in 2011 and have reapplied for designation in 2012.
  • We became the first institution in the region to become an international auditing partner with the Institute of Internal Auditors.  Only 42 institutions worldwide are IAEP partners. 

These are just a few of the good things that continue to energize our campus, despite economic challenges and difficult transitions.  We continue to move forward and to provide excellent experiences and educational programs for all our students – to give them an education for life. 

I appreciate your commitment and your resilience.  The challenges that we have faced and will face are significant and they require all the insight, skill and perseverance that we can muster.  Our campus community has met all of these requirements and more. 

Because of dedicated faculty and staff who care about our students and believe in building a better future for our University, we are adapting.  We are meeting the challenge of change.

Thank you, and have a rewarding, successful semester.  Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.