School of Education - Accreditation Self-Study Report

The Institution

St. Cloud State University (SCSU) is the second largest public university in the state of Minnesota, serving over 16,000 students from more than 80 nations. SCSU began as Minnesota’s third Normal School in 1869 and has long been committed to the preparation of teachers who will engage children in learning and who will help shape the world in which they live. Today SCSU is a regional, comprehensive university offering over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs of study, including two doctoral programs.

Located 65 miles north of the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Cloud offers students urban, suburban and rural locations for clinical practice. The city of St. Cloud is uniquely situated at the intersection of three counties. The tri-county metropolitan area of nearly 200,000 residents is the fourth largest in the state.

SCSU recently completed a four year process of strategic program appraisal and reorganization. This process provided opportunities for faculty, administration, staff, and students to come together to re-examine and redefine our institutional goals and priorities. We take pride in our mission of preparing students for life, work and citizenship in the 21st Century (Exhibit I.5.f.1). Our reorganization has resulted in academic units that are more focused and are better able to provide students with the fundamental knowledge base necessary to become successful contributors, critical thinkers and problem solvers in our ever changing world. SCSU’s identity is centered on four institutional learning commitments that are woven through everything we undertake and are clearly at the forefront of our conceptual framework. We are committed to providing students with opportunities for active and applied learning, community engagement, global and cultural understanding and environmental, organizational and social sustainability.

Innovations in clinical practice have long been a hallmark of St. Cloud State University, e.g., the Model School of the 1870’s, the Lab School of the 1960’s, co-teaching in student teaching and our reform efforts through the Teacher Preparation Initiative today. As we look back at the history of our institution, common themes emerge: commitments to developing effective educators and to providing students with opportunities for active and applied learning and promoting community engagement. When the Normal School opened in 1869, there were five faculty and 53 students. There was one building (Stearns House) that housed college classes on the first floor, the original St. Cloud Model School on the second floor and student housing on the third floor.
In 1892 student teaching in area schools began, and in 1913 a separate building was opened which would serve as the laboratory school until 1958. It was not until 1947 that the first non-education course was offered, with the first non-education degree being conferred in 1949. The first Master’s Degrees were offered in 1957. In 1958 the campus laboratory school moved to a new location on campus, where it remained until closing in 1983.

Like most long-standing institutions, St. Cloud State has had a number of names and configurations. In 1921 the State Normal School at St. Cloud became St. Cloud Teacher’s College. In 1953, when the legislature broadened the mission of teachers’ colleges to accommodate increasing demand for educational opportunities following World War II, St. Cloud Teacher’s College became St. Cloud State College. The School of Education was created as a stand-alone unit within the State College, in 1971.  In 1975, legislative action changed state colleges to state universities, and we became St. Cloud State University. Finally, in 2011, the University restructured from five colleges to two colleges, two schools within colleges, and four free-standing schools (Exhibit I.5.f.2).