Riverland looks to future with new chancellor

Published 11:17 am Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest column

Terry Leas, Riverland Community College President

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) includes 31 state universities and community and technical colleges including Riverland Community College and its three campuses in Albert Lea, Austin and Owatonna. As a system, we serve more than 420,000 students each year in credit and noncredit courses across the state.

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On Oct. 19, the system installed Steven Rosenstone as its fourth chancellor to lead our public colleges and universities. He succeeds James H. McCormick, who retired after 10 years of superlative service.

Rosenstone holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He was professor of political science at Yale University until 1986 when he joined the University of Michigan to serve as professor of political science and program director at the Center for Political Studies. Before being hired as the system’s chancellor, he worked as the University of Minnesota’s Vice President for Scholarly and Cultural Affairs.

During his installation ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda last month, Chancellor Rosenstone shared his vision for what he calls an “extraordinary education” for our students. To accomplish this, he outlined some key strategies:

—Redesign the classroom experience and curriculum to create a signature learning experience such as project-based, and/or active, and/or problem-based learning. Prepare master teachers who will facilitate learning in this way.

—Develop thoughtful measures of learning outcomes and deliver programs that enable graduates to meet those standards. Expand the use of student e-Folios to archive evidence of student learning outcomes.

—Increase collaboration among faculty across our colleges and universities to create the best possible courses and learning experiences that can be shared across the system. Utilize the best minds to develop the best courses.

—Bring learning closer to the world of practice and in deeper partnership with employers.

—Strengthen program advisory committees to deepen understanding of both the immediate and life-long skills employers are looking for.

Goals to make college accessible to all:

—Keep tuition as low as possible, striking the right balance between access and quality.

—Increase need-based scholarships.

—Create a welcoming and supportive campus environment for all students.

—Increase the flexibility with which students can access courses and programs at a distance, in the evening, and on weekends.

—Increase access to baccalaureate degrees by enabling students at two-year colleges to complete a MnSCU baccalaureate degree without relocating. Engage our seven universities to expand “university centers” at the two-year colleges and at other sites.

—Partner with communities of color to develop strategies to improve college preparedness, recruitment, and success of groups of students who have traditionally been underserved by higher education.

We are pleased that Riverland has already aligned these strategies with our ongoing projects and future goals. We not only share the Chancellor’s vision, but our creative and dedicated faculty, staff, advisory committees and Foundation members are devoted to offering an extraordinary education to the students enrolled in programs and courses at our three campuses and online.