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 Response Page - Allen / Olson  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Clyde Allen / David Olson Interview of 04-23-10

The Questions:

1. _4.3 average response_____ that the U of M and MnSCU are effectively responding to the above-mentioned forces. 

2. _7.7 average response_____ that it is urgent for the U of M and MnSCU boards to meet together periodically and coordinate their responses to these forces.

3. _9.2 average response_____  that a new U of M president and a new MnSCU chancellor each should possess demonstrated leadership ability to respond to such forces.  

4.  _4.4 average response_____  that one board should be responsible for two-year public post-secondary institutions in Minnesota and another board for four-year and graduate level institutions.

5.  _4.4 average response_____ that all public post-secondary institutions in Minnesota should be under one board.

6.  Comments? __________________________________________________ 

Kent Eklund (5) (9) (9) (3) (5)

The amount of work to pull off the alternative futures depicted in #4 and #5 above could divert attention from the real challenges.

C. M. Denny, Jr. (0) (10) (10) (0) (10)

With their costs rising at twice the rate of the CPI, both systems are operating under a business model that can not be sustained.  

Arvonne Fraser (5) (6) (8) (7) (0)

I agree the selection of the new leadership of both institutions is a huge challenge.  However, what was overlooked in this session was the needs of the students, state and nation.  The recognition of those needs will be a critical factor in choosing new leadership.  We--the state and nation--need a well-educated workforce and that now requires a critical mass of individuals educated beyond high-school.  The responsibility for creating that workforce is a public responsibility, not simply a private and personal one.  Agreement with that last sentence should the prime question for any candidate for either office in question and the search committee should know that.  

Finally, as to question 5 above, that would probably require a constitutional amendment unless you put it all under the University which is covered under Article XIII, Sec. 3 of the Minnesota Constitution.  The U holds a unique constitutional status that should not be overlooked in selecting new leadership.  

Dennis Johnson (2) (2) (3) (0) (0)

There is a lot of talk about organizations or institutions that are "too big to fail". I think these systems of higher education have become "too big to succeed". They have grown fat and lazy, with little pressure to compete for student and parent dollars. Online universities are just what is needed. The private market, if left to its own devices, always responds when existing systems become obsolete and unwieldy. The railroad was invented to replace slow canal boat travel. Aircraft were invented to replace slow train travel. The internet was invented to replace traditional slow and limited means of communication, including education. With the world's knowledge at your fingertips at home, who will sit in a boring class listening to a mediocre teacher?

"Progressives" always believe faithfully that government must step in and exercise control or regulation when things aren't working right. If that were true, we would still be traveling in canal boats and writing letters by snail mail. Now these "experts" want the government to supply more money so thousands of students can continue to sit in boring classes which serve only to have their education interrupted. Online universities, with a few exceptions, will replace most public universities. (The Ivy League will survive for those in fields where "who you know" is more important than "what you know").

When I began at the University of Minnesota in 1950, my tuition was $37.88 per quarter, or about  $115.00 per year. (it increased a few dollars each year). Today's equivalent, using a factor of about ten times from then to today, the cost should be about $1200.00 per year.

(gasoline then was 26 to 28 cents a gallon, it is now $2.80. A candy bar was 5 cents, it is now about 50 cents). In 1954, by holding a part time job, I was able to pay my tuition, pay room and board at home, run a car, date my future wife, and get by without any outside assistance. I felt I received a very good education from faculty who were well trained, worked hard, and almost never were absent. What happened in 60 years? Where did things go wrong?

What went wrong, among other things, is that Federal aid to education ran up the costs for everyone, faculty joined unions, worked fewer hours and weeks per year, costs of buildings and physical plant went out of control, and the number of employees per student more than doubled because colleges were required to do a lot of things they did not do before having little to do with education. Graduation requirements were dumbed down, and the quality of education suffered.

What to do now?  Stop feeding the enormous tapeworm occupying all these buildings and allow the market and technology to reinvent higher education based on demand from students, employers, and parents.

Donald H. Anderson (6) (10) (10) (7) (7)

Scott Halstead (6) (10) (10) (10) (_)

Wayne Jennings (2) (7) (10) (2) (1)

Around the country 2 year community colleges are moving toward offering 4 year degrees. 4 years to complete a program is an anachronism in this age. We need also to think about combining the last 2 years of high school with college.

Terry Stone (2) (5) (10)(5) (7)

Robert Freeman (2.5) (5) (10) (2.5) (2.5)

Question 2:  doubt this will happen - it seems like they are too adversarial.

Question 3:  l agree it should be someone who comes from a higher education background. Echo that they should also be a leader and a skillful politician.

Question 5:  Think having some competition in the system is a good thing.

Carol Becker (0) (10) (10) (0) (10)

Question 1: I think the education world is going through the same sort of reckoning that other parts of the economy have been going through. Technology provides new and in some ways, superior tools for providing an education. Costs have been escalating for many years faster than inflation, to the point where most people cannot afford to go to college or leave so burdened in debt that it is a millstone around their neck for much of their life. Jobs don't pay what they used to so the cost-benefit of a higher education isn't what it used to be. The myth that higher education has to pay increasingly larger salaries to attract the "best" talent to do things other than teach continues to increase the cost of an education. And state support of education and research has been declining for a long time and will continue to decline, putting the burden on students to both finance their educations and pay for expensive staff who were brought here to do research and not teach.

Question 4:  The programs need to be coordinated so people can move between programs if they need to.

Question 5: In public affairs, the University has a program in Minneapolis and Duluth and MNSCU has programs in Mankato, Metro State and St Cloud. These programs should be clearly thought through and then differentiated so the best programs are available and they are focused on specific curriculums so students can get the best education rather than having a number of programs of lesser quality.

Dave Broden (10) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (0)

Question 1:  The approach of each organization is clearly to address major changes and to be sensitive to the changes that are driving decisions in higher education will need to evolve to meet the needs and yet live within the funding available and also be responsive to student capability to pay and to obtain the desired education.

Question 2: Good idea but perhaps a bit simplistic of a question-- a coordinated response yes--joint meetings maybe depending on how the meetings would operate.

Question 3: Demonstrated ability is definitely required but persons with the specific demonstrated ability may be difficult to find. Leadership qualities must be the focus--with the person having the understanding of the issues--sensitivity to higher education issues and factors--leadership qualities if well chosen can somewhat adapt to the job and situation.

Question 4: A two year and a four year board approach may make sense. A better statement is to ask the question how should higher education in Mn be organized for the future and then when that is decided structure the board approach to adapt to the organization and responsibilities established.

Question 5: Simply too much workload and inability of any board to focus on management due to scale, size, and scope. If two boards they must be required to work together, have common objectives, share resources etc.

Tim Utz (5) (5) (2.5) (10) (5)

Question 1: The institutional leadership is just recognizing the tide shift in education. Reduced public funding will have huge affect on public education, forcing restructuring how "business as usual" in higher education provides services to the community.

Question 2: Coordination is good if used to restore public support for education to within the State constitution. Coordination for real change is good; coordination to protect self preservation interests is not good.

Question 3: Yes, but the comments of new leadership “….should be exclusively from academia…..” is of great concern.

Question 4: More unconstitutional government through expanding layers of educational management just adds to the cost of education and public expenditures. In addition this idea lowers quality, efficiency and management’s ability to respond to environmental education changes.

Question 5: Persuade me the value of this approach.

David Gay (0) (0) (7.5) (0) (0)

Question 1: The cost per student is rising (tuition + state contributions) very fast and they have been unsuccessful at containing costs. In fact their spending is barely restrained. Colleges can do little to prepare students, that is failure of K-12 system. Online universities are just competition that a good "product" at a reasonable price will address. Why should demographics effect post secondary education?

Question 2: If the U of M and MnSCU boards are meeting, they are just trying to figure out more ways to get more money out of the tax payers and students.

Question 3: They need to find a way to deliver a quality education and lower the costs of a university education to both the students and tax payers.

Question 4: Each college should have its own board to meet the needs of the students at their respective college.

Question 5: Each college should have its own board to meet the needs of the students at their respective college.

Cheryl Dickson (5) (2.5) (10) (7.5) (7.5)

Question 1: The public has little way of knowing what the systems are doing. Very likely no Minnesotan who is not intimately involved with systems could answer this authoritatively.

Question 2: No, the boards need not meet, but they should keep one another well informed of plans and progress.

Question 3: Both new system heads need to be scholars, administrators, politicians, and visionaries. They should be visible in the higher education community as change leaders.

Question 4: Unless the state of MN is willing and able to underwrite parity in faculty salaries, benefits, and work loads, I cannot see how the state universities and the U of MN could merge. Furthermore, one portion of the faculty would be unionized and the other, not. That, too, would cause significant problems. Finally, it would re-create the hierarchy that was abolished in the MnSCU merger.

Question 5: This would be a huge task, but it may be the best way to work towards a comprehensive plan for post-secondary education in Minnesota. At the present, two systems often working at odds is not in the best interests of students or taxpayers. It is critical for the planning to be done prior to merger, rather than after. A Task Force could plan a new system of higher education that includes grades 11 and 12. Members of the Task Force could include system board members, academic affairs officers, legislators, business and foundation people, national education futures experts, and finance and technology people. Students are transitory and have focused interests and should not be involved. The planning should be for the long term and should include geographic, demographic, and academic considerations.

Ray Cox (5) (8) (10) (5) (5)

I hesitate to endorse one board for all institutions as it might be unworkably large. I agree with David Olson that we need fundamental change. One problem as I see it is we have created an environment where many people tend to look at education as an entitlement. When the state started supporting tuition for students directly through grants we saw the huge increase in tuitions...since there was a third party payer now involved. I believe this is a great part of our health care cost increase as well, since the introduction of third party payers in this area too. How do we de-couple from this third party relationship and get back to a relationship between the students and the schools? We also need to reinforce that education is something of value for students and that it is totally theirs, just like investing in a stock market, a student is investing in him/herself.

Rick Bishop (8) (10) (10) (10) (5)

Carolyn Ring (6) (10) (10) (5) (3)

With the many forces effecting change in higher education this is an excellent time for new leadership that acknowledges the need for change. 

John S. Adams (4) (9) (10) (7) (5)

John Milton (5) (10) (10) (0) (10)

Question 2: but when they meet, it must be a meeting of equals .  The U of M has never accepted that.

Question 4: MNSCU will be trivialized, and the U of M doesn't have to conform to state laws because of its prior establishment.

Question 5:   But those of us who've tried to do this in the past were stopped cold by the U of M insistence that it is not subject to MN statutes.

Alan Miller (4) (8) (9) (3) (5)

Bright Dornblaser (3)(8) (10) (1) (1)

4 and 5 look for the typical organizational fix vs. each making disruptive educational change in each that responds to changing demands from student's and employers with new teaching and business models.  The UMN research capability needs to be enhanced during the change process.  The scope of programs may need to be constrained and strategically refocused.  The number of educational institutions probably needs to be reduced in the process.

Paul Hauge (7.5) (10) (10) (2.5) (2.5)

Question 2: There are many common issues but on balance it appears well to maintain two strong and separate entities.

Question 4: I would think there would be greater competition between those groups that the current setup.

Question 5: An extremely well done Civic Caucus interview and you brought together two somewhat distinct entities- education and business, but it highlights the need for the two to work closely together. Thank you.

Jan Hively (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5)

I'd like to see a commitment to birth-to-death, lifelong learning in Minnesota. That said, the intermediate step of dividing responsibilities between 2 year and 4 year plus is a good one. Don't forget Community Education in this mix!

Mina Harrigan (2.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (2.5)

Al Quie (1) (10) (10) (_) (1)

I am troubled by this interview. The main problem is not revenue or administration or new technology. The main problem is human interaction relationships. Our society becomes more individualistic all the time. The higher education systems need to study outcomes of students in life and back up to the activities made possible by the resources and technology before making administrative choices.

David Clinefelter (0) (7.5) (10) (0) (10)

Question 1: The responses of the two chairs indicate that they don't understand the powerful changes that are already happening to the way higher education is provided and accessed by students.

Question 3: Increasing numbers of adults are enrolling in college. Approximately 75% of college students are now adults, but many college leaders still think of campuses serving 18-22 year old students. An important criteria for new presidents would be experience in institutions that serve a preponderance of adult learners.

Question 4: A very important issue is credit transfer. Most college students attend more than one institution and end up not getting credit for work completed at another institution when they graduate. This is a major waste of time and money. An integrated system, under one board, increases the odds of developing a seamless and effective credit transfer system.

Question 5: The more we can eliminate redundancy the better, beginning with the boards.

Peter Hennessey (2.5) (2.5) (7.5) (0) (0)

Question 1: The bad thing is that we (they) are too preoccupied / enamored with "change." You always have to answer, 1. from what, 2. to what, and 3. why? And 4. you have to show that the proposed alternative(s) will actually work as intended. Intentions alone are not enough. You have to think it through and be certain that you are about to do some good, not even greater harm.

Question 2: The two institutions are not serving the same clientele. There is little risk of duplicating or overlapping their services, unless they deliberately set out to do just that. Even then, competition would benefit both. But talking is good as long as it is information and ideas, not orders, that are being passed back and forth.

Question 3: Of course they have to demonstrate a successful track record, but why qualify / restrict it to "the above mentioned forces"? They have to prove ability to do the job, the whole job, not just the supposedly imminent changes.

Question 4: Seems to me the unification of all those small institutions into one monstrously large system did not work. And it should be obvious why -- by kicking the decision-making to ever higher levels, and by imposing ever more uniform standards, you destroy any chance of local adaptation to local needs, any chance of local initiative and experimentation. The key to success is local control, local response to local needs, not a top-down straight jacket. These two types of institutions are not serving the same clientele. So this idea is better than the next one.

Question 5: Definitely not. This is the worst idea. You cannot educate the public in freedom, democracy, intellectual diversity and individual responsibility, using a structure appropriate for and modeled after a dictatorship. The top command necessarily seeks to propagate downward one idea, impose one-size-fits-all solutions, and punish deviation and deviance. Totally kills local initiative, response to local needs and experimentation with alternative solutions.

Polly Bergerson (2.5) (7.5) (10) (2.5) (7.5)

Question 1: It is disheartening when the current leaders decide the work and decisions must be up to the new leaders. There needs to be a bridge built in order to get to the other side.

Vici Oshio (7.5) (7.5) (10)(5) (5)

Question 5: Sounds like it is time for a joint committee including the two new leaders to gather and work out an evolving design for higher education. At some point they'll need to involve E-12 educators too. Let's congratulate them for asking some of the tough questions.

Bob White (7.5)(7.5) (10) (7.5) (0)

Question 5: Varieties of two-year post-secondary are so great that a separate board is appropriate.

Ray Ayotte (2.5) (10) (10) (5) (5)

Tom Spitznagle (3) )(7) (8) (5) (5)

Shirley Heaton

Wherever education matters are concerned there is always the cry for change but no real effort to deal with the status quo. As one of the speakers noted: Change the belief and behavior will follow.

Fred Senn (6) (10) (10) (_) (7)

Tom Swain (5) (8) (10) (8) (5)

Robert J. Brown (2.5) (10) (10) (0) (10)

Question 1: I think they are trying but their bureaucracies are large and virtually unmanageable. What will make them work better is if there are financial incentives to improve. The suggestion made by the Brandl-Weber idea of less institutional subsidy coupled  with increased student aid (both need based and a voucher for all Minnesota citizens) would force the systems to deal with their inefficiencies.

Question 4: We had a pretty good system with separate boards before Roger Moe put them all together (except for U of M.) It took a long time for the junior college and tech school people to work together effectively and we still have the problem of transfer of credits even with one board. Creating separate boards at this time would just set us back a few more years.

Question 5: We would have had this before if not for the arrogance of the U of M in bragging about its unique status as having pre-dated the state constitution so that it feels it is the fourth branch of state government. We ran into this problem when trying to take extraneous matter out of the state constitution in the 1970s. For example, we removed reference to the fact that the prison had to be in Stillwater, but the U lobbied to keep reference to it in the constitution believing it would preserve a special status. If Stillwater had not chosen to have the state prison instead of the university in the beginning ( thinking it would provide more jobs and, possibly a better clientele) we might not have had the ongoing problem with the U. The one board should be responsible for both on site and distance learning education. Since there is research to show that a mixed mode (part on site and part distance learning) may be the best for at least some it would be a big mistake not to have all options under one board.

Roger Heegaard (7) (8) (10) (6) (5)

Charles Lutz (7) (9) (9) (8) (5)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (7) (9) (10) (8) (5)

Bert LeMunyon (5) (7.5) (7.5) (2.5) (0)

Jim Keller (3) (8) (8) (0) (0)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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