Tag Archives: University of Minnesota

Vote for University of Minnesota Student in White House Contest

Matt Norris, at student at the University of Minnesota, is a finalist for the White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge. Matt is a co-founder of The A-List.

The A-list’s mission is to provide a cool yet safe environment for teens to hang out and develop themselves personally and professionally in a youth-led environment.  It’s based on a new and revolutionary model of youth engagement.

They provide employment opportunities for youth through their snack and apparel business units.  Guided by their Employee Development Curriculum, as youth are promoted through our various teen employee positions, they build eight key employment skills identified by the Carlson School of Management.

The organization runs after school programs that promote education and employment.  These programs include daily tutoring sessions, courses to help youth explore post-secondary opportunities, lessons on how to apply successfully for jobs, and opportunities to interact with business mentors. They also host evening events for teens to build and showcase their talents such as dances, battle of the bands, open mic nights, and hip hop classes.

The deadline to cast your vote is Saturday, March 3rd. Read more and vote here.

Good luck Matt!

New leaders express a vision for higher education in Minnesota

This is a time of major leadership transitions in Minnesota higher education, and recent speeches by Steven Rosenstone, the new MnSCU chancellor and Eric Kaler, the new University of Minnesota president suggest their community engagement priorities.  Both emphasize workforce development as a contribution to strong communities, call for more collaboration across sectors, and aim to increase college access and success among diverse students.  

Excerpts from Steven Rosenstone’s first major speech to the MnSCU Board of Trustees on September 20, 2011 (See full text here.)

Steven Rosenstone

For more than 150 years, our colleges and universities have prepared Minnesota’s workforce; we have supplied skilled employees for new and growing companies; we have graduated entrepreneurs who have started businesses in every town of our state; and we have educated the Minnesotans who knit together the fabric of our communities – from teachers and social workers to police officers and nurses. That role cannot diminish in the face of current financial challenges . . .

Most people I’ve met give huge credit to our colleges and universities for the important role they play ensuring the vitality of communities across our state. People shared with me, in vivid detail, the kinds of partnerships with businesses and organizations that have been key to their community’s success, especially customized training and our willingness to pitch in and help solve local problems. . .

An extraordinary education means graduates who have the capacity to adapt to the four or more careers they are likely to have over their lifetimes; think independently and critically; resourcefully applying knowledge to new problems; and work effectively across cultural and geographic boundaries An extraordinary education enables student to achieve their objectives and prepares them to learn for a lifetime.

Consider some of the ideas currently on the table. We might . . .

  • Rethink the classroom experience to infuse every learning experience with project-based active learning.
  • Bring learning closer to the world of practice.
  • Develop thoughtful measures of learning outcomes and deliver programs that enable graduates to meet those standards.
  • Increase collaboration among faculty across our colleges and universities to create the best possible courses and share them across the system. Turn loose the best minds to develop the best courses. . . .

We need to redesign the way we do things. We need to empower our colleges and universities, our faculty and staff, to be innovative and entrepreneurial. We need to partner in new ways. . . .

We will have succeeded when every economic development initiative across Minnesota involves at least one of our colleges or universities; when all businesses and communities turn to us first for solutions to pressing problems; and when graduates return to us in greater numbers for the cutting-edge skills to remain at the top of their professions.

We will declare victory when every Minnesotan has the ability to attend – and graduate from – one of our colleges or universities, and when higher education is within reach of all families. And we’ll celebrate when the Minnesota economy returns us to prosperity. Given this defining moment in our state’s history, consider the ideas I’ve shared with you today as a call to action. For you, our board, to help us set the right priorities. For our presidents to lead new, innovative of serving students and their communities, and for faculty and staff to deliver both an extraordinary education and extraordinary ideas to our partners. Minnesota is counting on us.

Eric Kaler’s inaugural speech on September 22, 2011 (See full text here.)

Eric Kaler

I am committed to: Re-invigorating how we teach and learn, and ensuring an exceptional undergraduate experience, a rigorous graduate environment, and a world-class research enterprise;
I am committed to: Re-imagining how we operate and function;
I am committed to: Championing the value of this University to the people of this state;
I am committed to: Strengthening our business, community and philanthropic partnerships;
I am committed to: Unleashing an entrepreneurial spirit amongst all of us, reaching globally even as we serve and engage our local communities;
I am committed to: Leading a University that understands that diversity is critical to achieving excellence.

Together, we can re-invent the land-grant vision of the nineteenth century to meet the global needs of the twenty-first century. And together, we can place the University of Minnesota among the group of the best public research universities in this nation . . .

Let me turn now to public engagement, another activity critical to our mission. We always will respond to the changing needs of our communities, state and world by sharing our expertise, knowledge, resources and discoveries. We have a tradition of outreach to our rural communities that we will not abandon. Not only because we’re so directed by the Morrill Act of 1862, and not only because we continue to advance our legacy of agricultural innovation and feeding the world. No, we won’t abandon these roots because of students like Kenny Deutz.

Kenny grew up on his family’s farm near Marshall, Minnesota, tending crops and milking cows. Since he was a little boy he has wanted to be a veterinarian. Kenny came to the University of Minnesota to achieve that goal. A few months ago, right after his freshman year, Kenny was accepted into VetFast, an accelerated veterinarian degree program. Across the nation, there’s an acute shortage of large animal veterinarians. As the only veterinary college in the state, the University of Minnesota has an obligation to help meet this shortage.

VetFast students receive their bachelor of science and doctor of veterinary medicine degrees in seven years instead of eight. It saves a year’s tuition. It’s good for the economy. It allows young people like Kenny to give back to his community, and live the dream he first had in kindergarten.

While we’re committed to our roots, the fact is the world keeps getting smaller and, as Minnesotan Thomas Friedman says, flatter. We must rethink our mission of public engagement for the twenty-first century and create new pathways for engagement locally, nationally and globally….

We also need to look externally. We must better define our partnership with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and more clearly articulate the public value and distinctive role of each institution, while working together as much as possible to deliver higher education in Minnesota as cost-effectively as possible . . .

Any great team, organization, or University, must actively pursue diversity. In our faculty … among our staff … and within our student body. I can think of no community, no challenge, no classroom that is not enhanced by diversity … of thought, of background, of language, of values, of religion, of gender, of ways of knowing.

Diversity pushes us to challenge our assumptions. It sparks our creativity, and it enables a richer and, frankly, more interesting life. A student who, by accident or by plan, has a narrow and homogeneous education will be spectacularly ill-equipped to succeed in a modern life.

Diversity is also an economic and civic imperative. By 2035 almost half of the citizens in the Twin Cities metro area will be people of color. Yet, today, our state has one of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between students of color and white students from kindergarten to twelfth grade, and that extends to a gap in higher education. We all bear responsibility. If we are to prosper in the future as a state, it is incumbent upon all of us to close this achievement gap. I will partner with our K-12 leaders and others and bring University expertise and resources to reach this goal. Education is the path to a better life. It always has been.

Minnesota Campuses Receive Presidential Recognition

Augsburg College is one of six colleges and universities receiving Presidential Awards in the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its President's Honor Rollcommitment to community service.

The Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually recognizes institutions of higher education for their commitment to and achievement in community service. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

The College of Saint Benedict and Metropolitan State University, were recognized on the Honor Roll With Distinction.

Other Minnesota Honor Roll institutions include:

  • Carleton College
  • Central Lakes College
  • Century College
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Inver Hills Community College
  • Macalester College
  • Minnesota School of Business-Rochester
  • Normandale Community College
  • North Hennepin Community College
  • Saint John’s University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • St. Olaf College
  • University of Minnesota, Crookston
  • University of St. Thomas
  • Winona State University

Congratulations to all of these campuses for their extraordinary commitments to serving their communities.

St. Kate’s students competing in social enterprise competition

CTI grinder being used in Mali - photo courtesy CTI

by John Hamerlinck

St. Catherine University students are engaging in a social enterprise competition in that is aimed at improving quality of life for people in Uganda.

The Acara Institute, together with 3M, has developed a program, called Sales for Social Impact. Working with the St. Paul, Minnesota non-profit Compatible Technology International (CTI), St. Kate’s students will develop a plan to sell CTI’s African-manufactured food grinders in Uganda. For more details see this story.

A team of students from the University of Minnesota and the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee recently won the Acara Challenge 2010, which focused on creating businesses that address clean water and clean energy for underserved populations in India. You can read about that challenge here.

Designing Community Pride

By Maria Ortiz

Minnesota Campus Compact supported a collaboration between the nonprofit Juxtaposition Arts, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and the University of Minnesota’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Design Institute, dedicated to the revitalization of Northeast Minneapolis. Their work began with the West Broadway Gateway Project. This project created murals, sculptures, seating and other people-centered amenities meant to transform the community into a welcoming and aesthetically attractive commercial avenue. The partners and community members focused on the environment, geographical prospective, ownership, zoning issues and public art. All aspects of the project were modeled after other successful projects around the United States.

As the project developed so did its support, scope and goals, eventually being renamed Remix: Creating Place for People on West Broadway. The project completed the installation of a sculpture garden at the West Broadway East Gateway Area. Where artists, architects, landscape professionals and university students and faculty designed and fabricated public art and landscaping elements in a former parking lot. Neighborhood youth and artists also created light post street banners with images of their artwork that were hung along the five block West Broadway commercial district.

The Remix: Creating Place for People on West Broadway project is the kind of project that advocates for community-based place making. The activities created reasons for people to visit to particular places and raised awareness and interest in those places. This project not only brought beauty, but also brought people together in building this place, their community. MORE

Campuses Helping Local Charter School “Go Green”

By Maria Ortiz

The Minnesota Internship Center High School (MNIC) is just starting the journey to becoming a “Green School.” MNIC committed to teaching their students how day-to-day practices at school impact the environment.  They’re achieving that goal with some help from local colleges and universities.

“Over the past five years MNIC has been building relationships,” says Amy Libman, Director of Student Support Services. The University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas and Macalester College are all partners in the “Green Project” Libman said, “This is an opportunity for MNIC students to learn green skills and also be exposed to the university experience.” High school interns will have to have excellent attendance and grades, be juniors or seniors, and have strong staff recommendations.

Two college interns, Max, from Macalester College and Jane, from the University of Minnesota, have a strong commitment and interest in the implementation of the green grant. “They each had experiences that helped them develop skills that they could bring to the internship,” Libman explained. College interns need to be willing to commit 6-10 hours per week and work with Libman and the entire team. Most interns are earning credit from their universities (but Libman does not make this a requirement). There are also service-learning college volunteers involved in this project.

This is a compelling project because “MNIC serves populations (i.e., immigrants and urban low income students) traditionally not involved in cutting edge industries and the green movement” Libman stated. The MNIC student population is composed of 98% students of color, both American born and immigrant, that are qualify for free or reduced lunch under the Federal Food program. These populations are in need of both training and income. This project is a chance to invest in the future by training students for green industry jobs, giving stipend internship opportunities, as well as the chance for students to become leaders educating one another and their communities.

Currently MNIC has begun to alter its practices to be more environmentally responsible. The Environmental Science class at one of the five campuses runs a recycling campaign for that campus. Their waste is inconsistently divided into trash and recycling. During this project, they will launch the following initiatives:

  • Become a member of MN Waste Wise and take part in their services;
  • Improve their waste management practices by separating out organic waste , increase recycling practices thus reducing trash amounts;
  • Empower MNIC students to be green leaders by devoting part of the required Environmental Science class curriculum to the study of garbage and waste management (60 students for 4 semesters over 2 years);
  • Provide 2 MNIC staff and students the training needed to improve sustainability practices at school, home and in the community through partnership with MN Waste Wise.
  • Provide service projects to the community with the possible partnership with American Indian OIC, MNIC interns and Environmental Science class. This environmental project could involve: helping MN Waste Wise conduct audits and waste sorts in surrounding communities, building compost bins for community gardens, etc.

Over the two year period of this project MNIC will be able to lower the cost of waste removal by reducing their amount of trash. By maximizing organic diversion and the associated cost savings, MNIC hopes to make organics at least a break even proposition. Grant monies will provide them with the necessary permanent supplies such as waste containers. Consumable supplies will be paid for with the savings from waste management efforts.

MNIC students will continuously be trained in organic waste management and other sustainability initiatives through more partnerships with local colleges and universities. Their increased awareness, knowledge and commitment will increase their capacity to carry on with these initiatives.