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GM’s Recall Problems and MnSCU’s Leadership Problem
By John W. Palmer

Stephen B. Young, Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table concluded in his introduction of the July edition of “Pegusus”:

Leaders are needed to achieve good stakeholder relationships, not mere managers.

The focus of the July edition of “Pegusus” was the Report to Board of Directors of General Motors Company Regarding Ignition Switch Recalls issued on May 29th, 2014 by Anton R. Valukas of JENNER & BLOCK.

http://www.cauxroundtable.org/index.cfm?&menuid=139

The Valukas report began with a section titled: GM’S LEADERSHIP, THE TONE AT THE TOP, AND GM CULTURE. In this opening section of the report, Mr. Valukas wrote:

As described elsewhere in this report, the slow pace of the Cobalt investigation and the emerging pattern of accidents potentially related to the safety defect were not escalated to the Company’s most senior executives who from time-to-time met with the Board. The Board of Directors was not informed of any problem posed by the Cobalt ignition switch until February 2014.

The key phrase in this statement is: “…The Board of Directors was not informed…”.

The safety defect associated with the Cobalt investigation was in an ignition switch. This defect has been associated with 32 deaths when Cobalts were involved in automobile crashes where proper deploying of the air bag would have saved lives.

The recent concerns of various Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) stakeholder groups in the performance of Chancellor Steven Rosenstone are not as serious a matter as the loss of lives but the setting of “The Tone at the Top” and the creation of normative practices that engender a lack of confidence in leadership have serious consequences related to the future effectiveness of any organization.

In the past year, the MnSCU Board of Trustees (BoT) were not informed about two very important matters. In the first instance, the Chancellor’s contract was renewed in secret. In the second instance, a $2 million consultant contract concerning the major initiative called “Charting the Future” was entered into without the BoT being informed. In June of this year, the BoT was informed of concerns regarding the Chancellor’s performance. In recent weeks the BoT has been acutely aware of problems in stakeholder relations.

How will the BoT respond to the problem? I hope the response will not be like GM’s where:

One witness described the GM phenomenon of avoiding responsibility as the “GM salute,” a crossing of the arms and pointing outward towards others, indicating that the responsibility belongs to someone else, not me.

At GM, it took a change in leadership to begin a process of changing the norms. That change in leadership required the engagement of the Board of Directors. It is to early in the process of change at GM to know if norms will in fact change, but it is not to late to see change in the behavior at the top. You don’t hear the new CEO of GM using semantics to minimize and employees are no longer being told not use certain words and to call a:

“Problem an Issue, Condition, or Matter”
“Safety = Has Potential Safety Implications”
“Defect = Does not Perform to Design”.

GM has a new CEO that is a straight talker. Here are a couple of examples of some of her straight talk:

“I… believe if you have a problem you better solve it. Because if you don’t solve it you won’t be here or the company won’t be here. ”
Mary Barra, NY Times: Jan 23, 2014

And in front of Congress:

From the concluding article in the July 2014 Pegusus written by Erik Sande:

The culture at GM appears to have been one completely lacking in effective leadership. In many cases, what leaders need to instill in their organizations, among other things, are trust and responsibility….

The absence of actual leadership, inspiring trust and accountability, the opposite of the diffusion of responsibility, was a plague within the GM structure. One can only hope that Mary Barra, the newly appointed CEO, will be able to change this culture for the better.

It is now time for the Board of Trustees to step up and establish trust and accountability to MnSCU’s stakeholders by recalling Chancellor Rosenstone and establishing high expectations for themselves and all their employees. Recalling might not be sufficient in the Rosenstone matter and it may take discontinuation of the model to establish trust and a shared sense of accountability to do what is right for Minnesota.

Latest Fall Enrollment Numbers—Heading Towards Third
by Silence Dogood

The MnSCU website lists current FYE Fall enrollment numbers for MnSCU universities as of November 16, 2014. When these numbers are compared with the final fall enrollment numbers, the following figure is obtained:

While these are not final enrollment numbers—they do not become final until 45 days after the end of the semester—they are probably not far from what they will be. There may still be some second trimester Senior-to-Sophomore classes left to be added but it is unlikely that it will reduce the FYE decline substantially.

It is clear from the figure that the enrollment fortunes for all of the MnSCU universities are not the same. In fact, Southwest is actually showing a small increase. If we assume that each FYE is equal to $11,500 in revenue (tuition and state appropriation), a decline of 283 FYE represents a loss of $3,254,000.

Tammy McGee, Vice President for Finance and Administration confirmed the budget shortfall in a November 12, 2014 email:

In May, the enrollment projection was increased from a decline of 3.2% to a decline of between 4-5%.

For those that are interested in the details, the MnSCU website shows that Mankato currently has 6,635 FYE for Fall semester compared to SCSU’s 5,735 FYE. As a result, in Fall, Mankato is larger than SCSU by 900 FYE. If you look at headcount and count all of the high school students that SCSU enrolls, SCSU is actually ‘larger’ than Mankato. However, it’s the 900 FYE difference that translates into budget dollars—not headcount. Presidents seem to enjoy talking about headcount enrollments because they are always larger than the more important FYE enrollment.

SCSU’s decline of 283 FYE for fall is nearly four times larger than the 72 FYE decline at Mankato. When you look at summer, Mankato had 204 FYE more than SCSU. Combining Summer and Fall FYE enrollments, Mankato has 1,104 FYE more than SCSU. Once again, using $11,500 for the revenue from the combined tuition and state appropriation gives Mankato an estimated $11,592,000 revenue advantage over SCSU. If allowance is made for the reduced revenue from concurrently enrolled students, since SCSU has a much larger penetration in the high school market than does Mankato, the revenue gap is substantially larger.

The following figure shows the FYE enrollment by fiscal year for Mankato and SCSU:

Through FY11, SCSU had an advantage in FYE enrollment over rival Mankato. Starting in FY12, Mankato became larger than SCSU (at least in terms of FYE).

The following figure shows the difference in FYE between SCSU and Mankato by fiscal year.

A positive number means SCSU’s FYE enrollment was larger than Mankato’s. Correspondingly, a negative number means Mankato’s FYE enrollment was larger than SCSU’s. From 2008 through 2010, SCSU’s lead was increasing. In 2011, SCSU’s lead was cut nearly in half. Beginning in FY12, Mankato moved ahead of SCSU. What’s potentially scary is that the rate of increase is increasing!

Combining summer and fall enrollments for FY15, Mankato is already ahead of SCSU by 1,102 FYE. With the numbers for spring still to come in, it might not be hard to predict that Mankato’s lead over SCSU will increase even more.

Perhaps SCSU needs to stop advertising being the “second largest university in Minnesota” and consider what it means to be number three.

How Good Are The Projections?
by Silence Dogood

The fourth issue of the HuskyData Newsletter, “a regular newsletter dedicated to sharing data and information about SCSU and our students,” was released on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 and focused on enrollment projections.

The first figure shows the Fall 2014 NEF (New Entering Freshmen) Forecast Over Time. The original projection on February 5th was for an increase of 122 students over the Fall’13 enrollment which is an increase of 7.1%. That’s pretty amazing growth if it turned out to be true. By the February 19th projection, the possible increase dropped to 77 students yielding a healthy growth of 4.5%. That’s still pretty amazing growth.

By the March 5th projection, the number was reduced again to the value from Fall’13 for a net growth of 0%. From that point, the projections vary ±2% above and below the actual 30th day NEF enrollment.

So, for a month from February 5th to March 5th things looked pretty good or at least not too bad. The actual 30th Day NEF number of 1,683 represents a decline of 1.2% from the Fall of 2013 to Fall 2014. It’s still a decline, but at least less of a decline than the prior year. The following Figure shows the NEF Headcount from Fall’08 through Fall’14.

The headcount enrollment decline from Fall’08 to Fall’14 is 718 students, which amounts to a decline of 29.9%! Clearly, the percentage decline is staggering. Hopefully, the trend will not continue too far into the future. SCSU cannot survive as the second largest MnSCU institution, with much more declining enrollment. Believe it or not, this fall SCSU has only 33 more NEF than Winona State University!

The second graph appearing in the HuskyData Newsletter shows Forecasts of Fiscal Year 2015 FYE Enrollment at various points in time. The February 5th projection was for an FYE enrollment of 12,125. This represents a projected decline of 256 FYE for a 2.1% decline from the FY14 enrollment.

Unfortunately, the February 5th projection significantly overestimated the actual enrollment. “After adjusting for the unanticipated decline in summer enrollment,” the current projection is for an enrollment of 11,798 FYE, which is a loss of 583 FYE and a decrease of 4.7% from the FY14 enrollment. Looking at the plot, in May, the projection dropped by approximately 250 FYE but the summer enrollment was only down 100 FYE corresponding to a decline of nearly 10% in summer enrollment. Clearly, something more significant than the decline in summer enrollment affected the FYE projection in May.

If you look at the first enrollment projection in the HuskyData Newsletter compared to this final enrollment projection (11,798), the projection decreased by 327 FYE and by itself corresponds to a net decline from the prior year of 2.6%. Essentially, the enrollment decline for the latest projection is more than twice the original projected decline of 2.1% (an error in estimation of 120% error).

President Potter has repeatedly praised the Data Analytics Workgroup for the accuracy of their enrollment projections. If the budget for FY15 was built using the first enrollment projection, the big question is how much of a financial effect does being off by 327 FYE represent. Assuming each FYE produces $11,500 in revenue, 327 FYE represents $3,760,000. Considering the current projected budget deficit is $9,542,000, this ‘error’ represents 39% of the projected budget deficit. Clearly, whether or not the enrollment projection was right on target or off by 327 FYE, the budget is going to have to be cut by a very big number. However, one might like to know the bad news earlier so plans could be made to anticipate the shortfall rather than have to react to it.

Looking at the FYE projections for FY15, the latest data point shows the FYE number from November 2014. At this point, summer enrollment is already in the bank. Fall semester is more than half way through so the final fall numbers will only change by a small amount. Students have already started registering for Spring semester. Making a projection for Spring semester and ultimately the total FYE enrollment for the year at this point should be pretty accurate. Quite simply the majority of the FYE enrollment for the year is already known and there is pretty good historical data about the percentage of students returning in spring semester from fall semester. It’s kind of like counting the number of people in a movie theater at the beginning of the movie. Certainly, some people come in late but the change in the total number is very small.

If the enrollment projection of 11,798 comes to pass, the enrollment decrease will fall within the range 4-5% as revised in May (the announced March projection was for a 3.2% decline). While we can all argue about projections, I believe the final FYE FY’15 number will be closer to 11,719, which would correspond to a decline of 5.3%. We’ll see the actual 10th day enrollment numbers shortly after the beginning of classes in January. Either way, a decline of 4.7% or 5.3%, when coupled where the university started from its peak in FY10 (15,096), the enrollment is down over five years either 21.8% or 22.4%. This seems like a distinction without a difference to me. What is not a distinction without a difference is the over estimation of enrollment that then results in budgeting expenditures greater than the actual revenue generated. The effect of the over estimation of enrollment has resulted in the creation of the need to cut expenditures after a majority of the budget has been committed.

One can only hope that the error in estimation does not continue and the Data Analytics group learns from it’s mistakes and that the budgeting process will be based on more reliable estimates of enrollment and revenue. Another $3.7 million surprise for next year on top of this year’s $9.5 million dollar surprise surely will create major financial problems for SCSU.

Roy Saigo—A True Leader
by Silence Dogood

Roy Saigo was President at SCSU from 2000-2007. During his Presidency, enrollment at SCSU grew, minority enrollment grew, international student enrollment grew and the university had a balanced budget. In essence, President Saigo left SCSU a much better place than he found it.

Fast forward to 2014—enter the eternal optimist! Roy Saigo is appointed interim President at Southern Oregon University (SOU) on July 1, 2014. SOU is in a financial tailspin with dwindling state support. Faculty have been retrenched, there have been staff layoffs, program cuts, and declining enrollment.

In the four months after he arrived in Ashland, he has increased enrollment a bit over 1 percent. An increase of 63 students might not seem like a lot but considering that they were expecting a decline of 2.6%, it is a big turnaround. Eastern Oregon was down 12%, Oregon Tech was down 3.2%, Western Oregon was down 2.1% and Portland State was down 1.9%. Even the mighty Oregon Ducks’ lost 1%! SOU was one of only two schools (Oregon State was the other) to post an increase in fall enrollment.

According to the Mail Tribune article:

Compare this with SCSU, which in the last five years has declined in enrollment over 22% and is facing a $9,542,000 budget deficit for this academic year. The results of the Great Place to Work Survey show that the employees at SCSU do not have confidence in President Potter’s administration. For all of the data, the red bar represents the average value for the “100 Best Companies.” All of blue bars represent the derived values from those who completed the survey at SCSU. Where there are no red bars, the question was generated locally so the number must be interpreted without a comparison.

There is no question that SCSU is not anywhere close to the place where it was when Dr. Saigo left. It is also true that you can’t turn around years of problems overnight. According to the Mail Tribune article:

I’m betting that President Saigo will succeed in turning around the fortunes of SOU. I’m also hopeful that the next interim President at SCSU will be as successful.

Spring Semester Is Wasting Away!
by Silence Dogood

From the website for the Office of Strategy, Planning and Research, you can see a plot of the historic FYE enrollment from FY2000 through FY2014.

One of the most striking features of this graph is that over this period of time the enrollment in FY14 (12,381) is 279 FYE lower than the enrollment for FY00 (12,660). The final enrollment number for FY15 will not be known until after the end of Spring semester. However, enrollment for Summer’14 was down 9.0% and Fall’14 enrollment is currently down 5.1%. As a result, the enrollment decline for FY15 will most likely be over 5% for the year—which would be the fourth year in a row of annual declines over 5%!

On the website, the data is also broken down by semester. A portion of the graph showing the Fall and Spring semesters for the last five academic years is shown below:

A quick look at the two graphs reveals similarities except that the plot for Fall semester shows a maximum for F’10, while the plot for Spring semester simply shows a monotonic decrease in enrollment. Other than that, the two plots look very similar.

However, when you look more closely at the graphs, it appears that the rate of decline for Spring semester is greater than the rate of decline Fall semester. This can be quantified by calculating the percentage change in enrollment from Fall to Spring semesters as shown in the following figure:

Clearly, the downward trend in FYE enrollment from Fall to Spring semester is getting larger! From FY10 through FY14, the FYE enrollment declined 18.0%–a decline that took four years to achieve. However, the decline in enrollment from Fall’13 to Spring’14 is a shocking one-year decline of -12.9%.

Spring semester enrollments historically have always been lower than the prior Fall semester. However, in four years the rate of decline, Fall to Spring, has more than doubled from -5.9% to -12.9%, which corresponds to a 117% increase in the percent of decline! If this had been an increase in the rate of increase it would be impressive but as an increase in the rate of decline it is potentially terrifying!

The Fall semester FYE enrollment shows a decline of 14.7% over the period Fall’09 through Fall’13. The Spring semester FYE enrollment shows a decline of 21.0% over the period Spring’10 through Spring’14. Clearly, FYE enrollment at SCSU is headed dramatically in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, as bad as it looks for Fall semester, the decline in Spring semester is nearly 50% worse!

The enrollment as of September 13, 2014 was 5,509.6 FYE. Clearly, this is not the final enrollment number for Fall semester. However, a year-to-date comparison shows a decline of 348.5 FYE from the prior Fall, which represents a decline of 5.9%. If the final enrollment for Fall semester is only down 5% from the prior year, the FYE enrollment would be 5,774. If the percentage decline for Spring semester is the same as it was for Spring’14, the FYE enrollment for Spring’15 would be 5,029. Adding in the 916 FYE from Summer’14 gives a FY15 total of 11,719 FYE, which is 5.3% down from the previous year.

Clearly, the enrollment estimate of the Data Analytics Group last March of a decline of 3.2% is not as accurate a prediction as one might like. Even the revision of the estimated decline done in the summer that increased and broadened the decline to a range of 4-5% did not accurately predict a 5.3% decline.

Ultimately, increasing Fall enrollments is not going to be a successful strategy if the decline for Spring semester continues to increase. Something needs to be done to find a way to keep a larger percentage of the Fall semester students coming back for Spring semester. The first step is recognizing that there is a problem. This is something that doesn’t seem to occur too often at SCSU unless it is to blame and then fire someone. The second step is trying to analyze the reason(s) for the continuing decrease in the percentage of students returning for Spring semester. The last step is implementing a strategy to reverse the trend and increase the percentage of returning students. Let’s hope that we can at least start with step one. Otherwise, Spring semester might be wasting away as much as Summer School where from Summer’10 to Summer’14, the enrollment has dropped a staggering 30.9%!

Chancellor Rosenstone’s week from hell, which I wrote about in this article and this post, is filled with disturbing information. The most disturbing information is that the MnSCU chancellor and a university president, Steven Rosenstone and Earl Potter respectively, intimidated a student named Kari Cooper. That’s why the Winona State University Student Senate drafted this Bill of Particulars:

Follow this link to read Winona’s Bill of Particulars in pdf form.

Overall, the Chancellor has on multiple occasions acted in a disrespectful and aloof manner.

Last night, I spoke with Edward Conlin, the Vice President of the Winona State University Student Senate, about their Bill of Particulars. He confirmed that the Cooper incident was part of what caused them to draft their Bill of Particulars and to eventually cast a vote of no-confidence in Chancellor Rosenstone. Conlin emphasized the fact that they didn’t take this task lightly, adding that their meeting lasted 5 hours.

Conlin added that they were upset that Chancellor Rosenstone hid the McKinsey and Co. consulting contract from everyone, starting with the Minnesota State University Student Association. The MSUSA asked Chancellor Rosenstone directly what the cost of implementing Charting the Future (CtF). According to the Winona Student Senate, Chancellor Rosenstone said that the cost of implementing CtF would mostly be incidental costs on things like travel costs and meetings. When the $2,000,000 contract with McKinsey and Co. was brought to light, that rightly upset the Winona Student Senate:

Although not required to, the Chancellor in particular, and the Central Office did not and currently have not provided adequate transparency of The McKinsey and Company contract. A heavily redacted version of the document was only made available when the initial contract was discovered and leaked by local media. With regards to our public higher educational system, this information is deserved especially with the cost of $2 million dollars.

Conlin confirmed that Chancellor Rosenstone’s secrecy was a major driver in their Student Senate’s decision to vote their vote of no confidence in the Rosenstone administration.

Based on the information I’ve written, the chief hallmarks of the Rosenstone administration are secrecy, intimidation and spending money foolishly. It isn’t surprising that faculty senate representatives and student senates don’t have confidence in Chancellor Rosenstone.

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Are We Living In Wonderland?
by Silence Dogood

The front-page article in the St. Cloud Times on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 proclaimed:

In the article, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Richard Green is quoted as saying “university officials anticipated the decrease in enrollment, and it’s in line with what they have seen in the past several years.”

On the same day, Vice President for Finance and Administration Tammy McGee publically unveiled the FY15 budget at a Budget Advisory Committee Meeting. The document released is reproduced below:

The budget for FY15 clearly shows a budget deficit of $9,542,000.

Interim Provost Richard Green is new to the SCSU campus so it might be understandable that he might not be aware of all of the minute details but in what world is a 5.1% enrollment decline and $9,542,000 budget shortfall simply business as usual. In higher education where enrollment is the primary driver of revenue generation, is there another institution that has experienced a 22% enrollment decline with five years of decline willing to accept this as business as usual?

The Provost’s statement: “university officials anticipated the decrease in enrollment” could not be correct because if it were, a budget would have been presented that did not have a deficit approaching $10,000,000 dollars! This kind of money simply isn’t found in the petty cash! And you might expect that the Provost and Vice President for Finance and Administration would be talking with each other because, on the same day, the Provost says essentially that everything is going according to plan and the CFO says the ‘sky is falling.’ Perhaps she didn’t use the exact words that the ‘sky is falling’ but it would certainly be appropriate when more than three months into the fiscal year a budget is released that shows the need to cover a deficit amounting to 6.3% of the General Fund Budget! Contrary to Chicken Little’s mass hysteria, this time the sky really is falling!

When Chancellor Rosenstone announced that MnSCU and the IFO were heading to mediation with the Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution, he did it as a political stunt. I wrote about that aspect of Rosenstone’s stunt in this post. People can and will write that off as a dispute between adversaries. That isn’t accurate, though, because that’s an oversimplification of what happened.

What happened is that Chancellor Rosenstone was so totally intent on implementing his Charting the Future initiative that he was willing to do anything to make it happen. If that took belittling students to make it happen, that’s what he’d do. If you think that’s hyperbole, it isn’t:

Kari Cooper, president of the Minnesota State University Student Association, said Rosenstone and a campus president attacked her suggestions and questioned her leadership at a recent meeting. “I left that meeting in tears,” she said. “I wasn’t going to sit there as a student and be talked to like that from people who are supposed to be supporting me and supposed to be collaborating with me.”

FYI- It’s been confirmed that the “campus president” at that meeting was SCSU President Earl Potter. That incident triggered the Winona State University Student Senate to jump into that part of the Rosenstone fiasco:

To whom it may concern,

On November 5th, the Winona State University Student Senate (WSUSS) passed a Bill of Particulars regarding Chancellor Rosenstone.

The WSUSS does not take lightly the decision to present this Bill to the Chancellor and to The Board of Trustees. The Bill of Particulars addresses the performance, professionalism, and accountability of Chancellor Rosenstone. Many concerns listed in the Bill are not new and have been brought up by several different stake holder groups over the course of the last year; it is the hope of the Winona State student body that Chancellor Rosenstone addresses these concerns in a timely manner.

The WSUSS is currently considering a Vote of No Confidence in the Chancellor’s leadership but wanted to make these issues known before taking any additional action.

Sincerely,

WSUSS President Jessica Hepinstall and V.P. Edward Conlin

That’s just their letter. Here’s Chancellor Rosenstone’s dishonest response:

“I take very seriously the concerns raised by the Winona State University Student Senate and hope to meet in person as soon as possible to discuss them. We have reached out to the Winona student leadership. I would welcome the opportunity to personally meet with any of our student groups to discuss any topic at any time.”

That’s a dishonest statement. Dr. Rosenstone isn’t interested in collaboration. That’s a major reason why Faculty Senate representatives at 5 universities have conducted votes of no confidence in Chancellor Rosenstone.

Verification will follow in Part III of this original reporting series.

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Saying that MnSCU’s spin in this article is dizzying is understatement. It’s pathetic, yet frightening simultaneously. Here’s an example:

Three years ago, when Rosenstone was hired, MnSCU was looking for someone to light a fire under the sprawling, tradition-bound system to help it adapt to changing times and tighter budgets, said Thomas Renier, now the board chair. “I heard over and over, we need a transformational leader,” he said. “And we got one.”

When Jim McCormack announced his retirement, the first question that the MnSCU Board of Trustees should’ve asked was whether the system needed a major overhaul. I’m not exclusively talking about the universities, though that’s certainly in order. The trustees should’ve asked whether MnSCU’s central office needed major revamping. The next question that they should’ve asked is whether Steven Rosenstone was qualified for that responsibility. This MnSCU statement suggests he wasn’t. Here’s Rosenstone’s qualifications:

Rosenstone has been vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs at the University of Minnesota since 2007. He came to the university in 1996 to serve as dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Under his leadership, the college revamped the undergraduate experience, created state-of-the-art facilities and forged new partnerships with businesses, communities, cultural and civic organizations. Over the years, Rosenstone led numerous university system-wide initiatives including the national conference on Keeping our Faculties of Color and task forces on scholarships, private fundraising, and long-term financial strategy. Rosenstone was awarded the McKnight Presidential Leadership Chair for his service to the university.

Before coming to the university, he was an assistant, associate, and then full professor of political science at Yale University until 1986 when he became a professor of political science at the University of Michigan and program director in the Center for Political Studies. He is the author of four books and numerous scholarly articles on elections, political participation, and the challenges facing higher education. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In terms of administrative experience, Chancellor Rosenstone’s experience was limited. Let’s compare that with William Sederburg, then the commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education:

Sederburg, who serves as chief executive officer of Utah’s Board of Regents, has been in his current position since 2008; his duties included developing a statewide higher education plan at the request of the board. Previously, he served as president of Utah Valley University from 2003 to 2008; during his tenure, the former two-year community college expanded to become a four-year regional university with 30,000 students. He was president of Ferris State University, which offers both two-year and four-year degrees, from 1994 to 2003; vice president for public policy and director at the Public Opinion Research Institute from 1991 to 1994; Michigan state senator from 1978 to 1991; president of Survey Research Co. from 1974 to 1991; and postdoctoral fellow at Michigan State University from 1973 to 1975. In 1990, he helped found the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, became its inaugural chair and located its headquarters in Minneapolis. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and political science from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a master’s degree in political science and a doctorate in political science and public administration, both from Michigan State University.

In other words, Dr. Sederburg had a lengthy and distinguished history of running major educational institutions. He’d developed a statewide “higher education plan” in Utah. He’d taken Utah Valley University from being a community college to being a 4-year university. Besides that, Dr. Sederburg was a state senator in Michigan and a “vice president for public policy and director at the Public Opinion Research Institute from 1991 to 1994.”

In other words, Dr. Sederburg was exceptionally qualified for the job of running a major institution like MnSCU because he’d run major institutions before. Dr. Rosenstone had never run a major institution like MnSCU.

Then there’s this spin:

In July, word leaked that Rosenstone had quietly hired a consulting firm, McKinsey & Co., to help guide the planning for Charting the Future at a cost of $2 million. When faculty leaders asked for a copy of the company’s bid proposal, almost all the pages were blacked out.

The news was especially alarming, according to Rosenstone’s critics, because the same company had published a 2010 report, “Winning by Degrees,” touting ways to “increase productivity” by replacing full-time faculty with temporary instructors and using centrally designed courses. Bute called it a “pre-canned script,” adding “we just felt like this was being rammed down our throats.”

Rosenstone says that’s untrue, and that McKinsey was hired only to help start the planning process. The final plan, he said, will be designed entirely by teams of faculty, staff, students and administrators.

That last paragraph is insulting. If the final plan is to “be designed entirely by teams of faculty, staff, students and administrators”, why did Chancellor Rosenstone and President Potter intimidate Kari Cooper, the president of the Minnesota State University Student Association, into tears at a steering committee hearing? Why did Chancellor Rosenstone announce last Thursday morning that MnSCU and the IFO would start mediation with “the state Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution” when he knows that MnSCU’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the IFO spells out that all mediation be done by the Bureau of Mediation Services?

Further, why did Rosenstone announce that prior to consulting with the IFO? That sounds like something a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy would do. It doesn’t sound like something that a consensus-builder would do.

I don’t blame the reporter for MnSCU’s spin. She’s just reporting the quotes. I’m blaming MnSCU’s trustees for their spin. Finally, I’m blaming Chancellor Rosenstone for not being transparent and open to other people’s ideas.

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Lost in all of the election hoopla has been the disintegration of the Rosenstone administration. Thus far, faculty representatives at Winona State, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Bemidji State and Southwest University have approved votes of no confidence in Chancellor Rosenstone’s administration. St. Cloud State, meanwhile, has overwhelmingly approved a resolution saying that they support the Winona State faculty’s vote of no confidence.

Next week, faculty representatives at Metropolitan State and Minnesota State University, Moorhead, will have their opportunity to express their opinions on Chancellor Rosenstone’s administration. I don’t want to presume anything but it isn’t a stretch to think that they’ve paid attention to this week’s events.

Unfortunately for Chancellor Rosenstone, the votes of no confidence are just the tip of rather nasty iceberg of his own creation. This is a major unforced error:

The chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system says a state agency has agreed to mediate faculty unions’ dispute with MnSCU leaders over how to carry out an overhaul of the system. Steven Rosenstone says he has invited union leaders to join him in talks with the state Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution.

Here’s the IFO’s response:

“In labor relations, mediation is a mutual process to be held in confidence, never to be exploited for political gain,” he wrote. “In that light, Chancellor Rosenstone has shown his bad faith. This recent action is part of a pattern of behavior which is an important reason that the faculty unions have lost trust in his leadership.”

Chancellor Rosenstone either knew or should’ve known that mediated disputes go to the Bureau of Mediation Services, aka the BMS. That’s what the collective bargaining agreement between the IFO and MnSCU specifies. IFO President Jim Grabowska is exactly right in saying that this was a political stunt. I’d add that it’s a nonstarter and Rosenstone knew that. That’s why it must be characterized as a political and PR stunt. Here’s how Monte Bute, the IFO’s action coordinator, reacted to Rosenstone’s actions:

[IFO] action coordinator Monte Bute said Rosenstone was acting in “bad faith” when he made his announcement early Thursday that a state agency would intervene. Bute called Rosenstone’s announcement a “political ploy,” and said union leaders have decided not to proceed with the mediation.

It’s time for Tom Renier, the chairman of the MnSCU Board of Trustees, and Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, the vice-chair of the MnSCU Board of Trustees, to discipline Chancellor Rosenstone. If they haven’t figured it out that he works for them, then they’re as worthless as potted plants and need to go.

There’s much more to this story, which I’ll include in upcoming posts. Check back for more information.

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