here for PDF format
for participants' responses to this summary
of Meeting with Peter Hutchinson
8301 Creekside Circle,
Bloomington, MN 55437
Friday, October 17,
speaker: Peter Hutchinson, president, Bush Foundation
Johnson, chair; David Broden, Charles Clay (by phone), Bill Frenzel (by
phone), Paul Gilje, and Jim Hetland
Context of the meeting—Today’s
meeting is a follow up to previous discussions on the importance of
foundations in providing leadership on public affairs in Minnesota.
Welcome and introduction—Verne
and Paul welcomed and introduced Peter
Hutchinson, president, Bush Foundation, since December 2007.
In his broad experience in the private and public sectors,
served as vice president for external affairs and chair of the Dayton
Hudson Foundation, commissioner of finance for the state of
superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools and deputy mayor of
Minneapolis. In 2006 he was the Independence Party candidate for governor
of Minnesota. He was co-founder of the Public Strategies Group, a St.
Paul company that redesigns and transforms governments throughout the
Hutchinson is a
Dartmouth College and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of
International and Public Affairs.
Comments and discussion—During
Hutchinson’s comments and in discussion with the Civic Caucus, the
following points were raised:
1. Changing nature of corporate leadership—Referring
briefly to his experience at Dayton Hudson, Hutchinson recalled the
counsel of Donald Dayton, then head of Dayton Hudson, concerning the role
of the Dayton Hudson Foundation . Dayton drew a square on a piece of
paper, saying that square represented the department store. He told the
foundation that it was to having nothing to do with what took place within
the store. The foundation was to concentrate on helping and promoting the
community within which the store was located. Most corporate thinking has
changed in the years since,
said. Today corporations believe their foundations are directly related
to implementing the internal goals of the corporation.
2. Being purposeful about foundation giving—Hutchinson recalled that while with the Dayton Hudson Foundation
he had an opportunity to advise B. Dalton Booksellers, a subsidiary of the corporation, on its contributions strategy. B. Dalton
had a policy of giving $50 contributions to almost every requesting community organization. Hutchinson said he convinced
B. Dalton leadership to figure out the essence of what they did. The leadership came back and said they were really involved in
adult literacy. He then convinced B. Dalton to relate its giving to that objective. B. Dalton then sent letters to groups that
previously had received token contributions. Recipients’ responses indicated they were pleased with such an action, even if they
would no longer be eligible for receiving contributions.
3. New goals for the Bush Foundation—
The Bush Foundation has changed its giving policy, Hutchinson said, from
sitting back and waiting for requests for funding to setting goals and
seeking those individuals or groups who fit the goals. In a letter on the
Bush website, here is how
described new Bush goals: During the past six
months, we asked ourselves repeatedly, “What difference do we want to
make?” In response, we have chosen three ambitious goals that we intend to
pursue for at least the next decade. We realize that we cannot reach these
goals on our own. While we know where we want to concentrate our efforts,
we readily admit that we don’t have all the answers. We will be looking
for partners across organizations, sectors, communities, the region and
even the nation, with whom we can join in searching for the means to
achieve these goals.
Develop Courageous Leaders and Engage Entire Communities in Solving
Problems – with a goal that by 2018, 75% of people in all
demographic groups in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota say
their community is effective at solving problems and improving their
quality of life.
Support the Self-Determination of Native Nations – with a goal
that by 2018, all 23 Native nations in Minnesota, North Dakota and
South Dakota are exercising self-determination and actively rebuilding
the infrastructure of nationhood.
Increase Educational Achievement – with a goal that by 2018 the
percentage of students in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota,
from pre-kindergarten through college who are on track to earn a
degree after high school, increases by 50% and disparities among
diverse student groups are eliminated.
These are big goals.
They’re challenging. And we know we can’t achieve them alone. We will look
for partners who can help show us the way. We plan to pursue a more
active, strategic approach for the use of our resources. We will learn as
we go. While we may occasionally stumble, we will learn from our mistakes
as we move forward. We will also be accountable, transparent about our
goals and upfront about our progress every step of the way.
4. Key elements of community success—The
Bush Foundation won’t define community or its problems,
said. “Community” can be any area, neighborhood, city, metro area,
state. Community exists in the eye of the beholder. He outlined key
elements of community success:
Use data as a reality
plans to enlist researchers to provide communities with independent,
impartial information on which to base decisions. Once this information
is available, we’ll seek partners to tell the stories behind the data.
Through these collaborations, we hope people will better understand both
what the issues are and
why they matter.
courageous leaders—Bush plans to continue and expand its work
in leadership development, including all three of its
fellowship programs. We plan to support the
increased effectiveness of those holding the estimated 40,000 leadership
positions in the nonprofit and government sectors in Minnesota, North
Dakota and South Dakota.
community-based problem solving and support leaders who emerge—Bush
plans to work with intermediaries to engage communities across
Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota in exploring issues and creating
solutions. We will build on programs that already work and expect
leaders to emerge through the process. As they do, we will find ways to
and create better
solve problems, communities need ideas – both those generated internally
and those borrowed from others. We plan to identify partners who can
support ways for communities to access creative ideas and develop the
solutions they need.
look for partners that can fulfill all four elements or individual
partners that can fulfill one or more. Possibilities include
organizations such as the Citizens League and other foundations.
Governmental agencies would not be excluded as possible partners. Bush
doesn’t need the credit itself and is able to absorb criticism.
5. Consistency with Kolderie thesis—Hutchinson
said he agrees fully with a point made by Ted Kolderie that a void in
civic leadership has occurred in recent years, with the disappearance of
locally-owned major businesses. Referring also to a book by Michael
Novak, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism”, Hutchinson said that
community leadership changes from era to era and now, in the Twin Cities
area and Minnesota, is an era where no one is leading. Business has gone
AWOL; government isn’t trusted, and the civic sector is rusty.
6. Rebuilding native nationhood—Hutchinson
went on to discuss the second major Bush goal, support the self
determination of native nations. There are 23 native American legal
“sovereign nations” within
North Dakota and South Dakota., and all need to rebuild their institutions
of governance. This isn’t an issue of separation versus integration, he
said. It’s about the legal status of tribes, and their need for better
governance. For example, he said, there’s no separation of powers between
the executive and the judicial in tribal government. Criminal and
business codes are weak. Bush won’t be telling any tribe what its systems
should be. It will stand ready to help the tribes help themselves.
further the question of separation,
said the tribes already are sovereign nations. They need help in
7. Increasing educational achievement—Over
the next 10 years Bush has a goal of helping produce a 50 percent increase
in the number of Minnesota youngsters on track to receive a degree after
high school. Today only 25 percent receive a post-high school degree.
emphasis isn’t about charter schools, childhood education, or curriculum
redesign, all major reforms in their own right. Bush’s focus is on the
effectiveness of teaching, and nothing else.
said that over the last 50 years we’ve reduced the pupil-teacher ratio
substantially, but we’ve not seen change in results. He used as an
example that fourth grade reading results are about the same today as they
were 50 years ago.
Improvement in the effectiveness of teaching has at least four major
components, the recruitment of prospective teachers, the education of
prospective teachers, their placement in schools, and the support they
receive once placed. We know teaching matters, but we are less clear on
the characteristics of effective teachers, he said.
know, he said, that 30 years ago more of the best and the brightest were
entering teaching. The overall intellectual quality of teachers has
dropped considerably since then, he said.
can be done to recruit future teachers, he said, making reference to Teach
for America, Inc., (http://www.teachforamerica.org/mission/index.htm)
which is working to enlist the best of America’s future leaders to enter
Minnesota twice as many persons are trained as teachers than there are
jobs for them. Moreover, one-half of those who do take teaching jobs are
gone within five years. Thus, Hutchinson said, we’re paying to train four
teachers for ever one who still is on the job five years later. A cynic
might say that teacher-training tuition is going to support the higher
education system, because volume matters over quality.
afraid to talk about the need to teacher quality issue, he said, but it is
abundantly clear that 40 years ago the main occupations for high-ability
college-trained women were education and nursing, which, of course, no
longer is the case.
The number of
students entering teacher-training in
should be reduced by one-half. The teacher-training institutions should
guarantee the competence of their graduates. Dollars saved by training
fewer teachers can be invested in support of teachers once placed on the
job. Today, a new teacher once placed in a school, receives virtually no
on-going support from the teacher’s higher education institution.
response to a question, Hutchinson singled out Mike Miller, dean of
education at Minnesota State University Mankato, as a leader on changing
8. Consider changes in foundation giving—The
law requires foundations to distribute annually at least an amount equal
to five percent of assets,
Hutchinson noted. In
years when investment yield is high, foundations can be quite generous,
but not when the economy takes a downturn. The effect is to push the
investment risk on to the community that is benefiting from the
foundations’ gifts. To avoid roller-coaster giving levels, foundations
should consider contributing a higher percentage of assets in some years
to maintain the needed level of community assistance, he said.
9. All foundations looking at their goals—Bush
isn’t alone in identifying new initiatives, he said. Foundations are
fiercely independent and all are sorting out how they can be most
10. Role of foundations in public affairs
information—A Civic Caucus member asked what foundations might
do to help offset a decline in public affairs information that is
resulting from changes in newspapers and other media. Hutchinson said
that Bush supports Twin Cities Compass (http://www.tccompass.org/know/index.php),
with its goal of providing unbiased, credible information about how our
region is faring; to alert policy makers, community leaders and the public
to significant trends; to promote coordinated efforts to address them; and
to measure and communicate progress.
11. Importance of storytelling to accompany
data—Hutchinson said he’s among only a few people who get
excited about charts and graphs and other displays of data. When we’re
talking about communicating significant information about the Twin Cities
area and Minnesota, we must use storytelling to get messages conveyed that
illustrate his point, Hutchinson told about a woman who had received
straight A’s in high school but was extremely angry with her school when
she discovered she had to take remedial math and English in college. Her
story is much more effective in describing the problem than citing that 38
percent of high school graduates must take remedial courses in college.
of ways to communicate stories need to be utilized, he said, including
movies, theater, film, video, and broadcast media.
suggestions on how the Civic Caucus should function, he said the
organization should be very focused—“narrow, deep and brilliant”—and
12. No future for newspapers—A Civic
Caucus member referred to a suggestions that the Twin Cities dailies
should be merged, placed in non-profit status, and be owned by local
investors and foundations. Hutchinson said he does not support
that idea, because he sees no future for newspapers, even though he likes
the romantic notion of a newspaper on everyone’s doorstep. The younger
generation no longer reads papers. Newspapers no longer can generate
revenue, either by circulation or advertising, to survive, he said.
about internet-based outlets, Hutchinson singled out Minnesota Public
Radio (MPR) as the leader in
13. Relevance of tenure in teaching—Returning
to education, in response to a question Hutchinson said he never has felt
that tenure is a problem. Many tenured teachers, not fit to serve, were
terminated when he was superintendent of the Minneapolis public schools,
he said. If you are only hiring effective teachers in the first place,
you’ll not have a problem.
14. Support for the Civic Caucus—Hutchinson
expressed support for the Civic Caucus opposition to the environmental
amendment on the November ballot, saying that the Civic Caucus position is
the “only sane voice in the whole debate.” He said he likes how the Civic
Caucus functions because he can learn about every weekly Civic Caucus
meeting by taking only 10 minutes of his time, without having to attend
meetings personally, as is the case with so many other organizations.
15. Finding good public policy leaders—There
are about 40,000 governmental and non-profit leaders in
when you consider all the governing bodies in state and local government
plus voluntary organizations. Many governmental bodies do not function
well because of one or two dysfunctional individuals in leadership
positions, whose agendas are stifling the effectives of the body. We need
to provide training on how to handle dysfunctional personalities, he said.
16. Relationship to improving the economy of
leadership as outlined by the Bush Foundation is essential in making
improvements in the economy across the state, a Civic Caucus member said.
Leadership is missing here, with people seemingly more interested in
talking about cuts and unemployment than in strategies for building the
economy, the member said.
17. Thanks—On behalf of the Civic
Caucus, Verne thanked Hutchinson for meeting with us today.
D. Citizens League annual meeting-- The Citizens League, a partner of the Civic Caucus, holds its annual meeting on
Thursday, November 20, 5 p.m. reception, and 6:30 p.m. program, at the Depot Great Hall, 225 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis.
The meeting will focus on a Citizens League plan for a better model of civic education. To register click here: