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Recently, I’ve written a few times that MnSCU (now renamed Minnesota State) hasn’t earned taxpayers’ trust. I don’t see a reason why I should change that opinion. Steve Rosenstone, the man who led MnSCU from 2011-2017, was an abject failure. This article chronicles some of Rosenstone’s failings.

For instance, during “his first five years, he’s clashed with faculty unions and faced scrutiny over a lack of transparency.” Also, Rosenstone’s “signature project, Charting the Future”, was hampered by “a secretive $2 million consulting contract with McKinsey & Co. undermined the effort when both faculty unions in 2014 stopped participating for four months.” As a result, faculty “groups at all seven state universities that year voted ‘no confidence’ in Rosenstone.”

The most damning incident in Chancellor Rosenstone’s history was how he signed his contract extension:

Rosenstone’s current employment contract also was approved in relative secrecy. Only the board chairman signed it in 2013, and some trustees didn’t know about it until the Pioneer Press reported on the contract eight months later.

Trust me when I say that didn’t go over well with the faculty. Why trust people that specialize in secrecy? Isn’t it impossible to trust secretive people?

The fact that each of the faculty associations voted a vote of ‘No Confidence’ in Chancellor Rosenstone is disturbing. Equally disturbing is the fact that several student senates voted a vote of no confidence, too. In those votes, it was cited that Rosenstone treated the students dismissively. It’s one thing to disagree with someone’s point of view. It’s another to treat them like their opinions didn’t matter.

There’s an interim chancellor running Minnesota State. Before he was the interim chancellor of the whole system, he was the interim president of Metropolitan State University. Prior to that, he was the failed provost at St. Cloud State. While he was provost, he tried hiding a transcript scandal from the faculty. It’s impossible to trust people who try hiding things like that from the faculty.

Frankly, it’s time to throw the interim chancellor under the proverbial bus. The trustees should scrap the search committee for the next president at St. Cloud State, too. The people of St. Cloud would do a much better job than that search committee will do. St. Cloud State must do better than getting another cookie-cutter president that’s as incompetent as the last president. This video explains why St. Cloud residents shouldn’t trust MnSCU’s pick as St. Cloud State’s next president:

Diversity is a positive thing but it shouldn’t be the primary focus. Excellence should be. Further, MnSCU spent $2,000,000 on a consultant who told them to rebrand the system and to change their system name to Minnesota State. No offense to Craig T. Nelson but that won’t inspire anyone to attend one of MnSCU’s universities.

The St. Cloud Times just published my LTE about St. Cloud State. I still firmly believe that the leader that the University needs to turn things around lives in St. Cloud right now.

Also, I’m 100% confident that what’s needed most is leadership. St. Cloud State doesn’t need another do-nothing executive picked by a team of cronies. As I said in my LTE, MnSCU hasn’t earned the benefit of any doubt. What’s needed is a person with a plan and an understanding of where the political traps are set. Rest assured, too, that there are more than a few traps set on campus.

I’ve written extensively about St. Cloud State the past 2+ weeks and the last 5+ years. Check out the LTE to read my recommendations. There’s a lot in there that would help the University get turned around.

Last week, I reported that Ashish Vaidya, St. Cloud State’s interim president, had accepted the president’s position at Northern Kentucky University. At the time, I wrote that “First, it’s impossible for me to believe that this was a difficult decision. The University’s CFO is leaving. Programs are being reduced in size. Enrollment is down. Further, the deficits keep ‘arriving’ annually. Additionally, President Vaidya hasn’t been at the University very long. What part of that sounds like a dream job scenario?”

Today, I got word that SCSU’s CFO, who already was leaving at the end of the fiscal year, has accelerated that decision. This afternoon, a loyal reader of LFR sent me a forwarded email from Ashish K. Vaidya, soon to be the former interim president at St. Cloud State. According to the forwarded email, “In early October, I informed campus that Tammy McGee, Vice President for Finance and Administration, was resigning from her position at St. Cloud State University at the end of the academic year. Vice President McGee recently informed me that other professional opportunities will require an earlier departure. I have accepted her resignation effective Jan. 5, 2018. This week, she will finalize various projects to support the transition and beginning Nov. 17, she will be on vacation until her resignation date. Effective today, the division of Finance and Administration will report directly to the Office of the President to make sure the university maintains consistent leadership as we continue our efforts to enhance our financial stability. The search for a permanent replacement will begin shortly and Vice President Wanda Overland will serve as chair. AGB Search, the same firm conducting the national search for the next president, will conduct the search. I will update the campus community on the search process as more details are available.”

Let’s be blunt. The chances of someone of stature applying for the St. Cloud State president’s position aren’t great. Pretending to conduct a routine nationwide search is foolish. This isn’t a routine situation. The next CFO will get hit with an impossible situation. The next president will face annual multi-million dollar deficits and declining enrollment. The odds of attracting someone experienced to either position are slim.

What I find appalling is President Vaidya saying that “the division of Finance and Administration will report directly to the Office of the President to make sure the university maintains consistent leadership as we continue our efforts to enhance our financial stability.” What financial stability? Seriously? What leadership should St. Cloud State expect from the president who’s got 1 foot out the door and the other on a banana peel? I understand why President Vaidya wants to project positivity but who’s he kidding?

It’s understatement to say that St. Cloud State can’t survive long with this much instability. What’s needed is a local search, not a nationwide search. The person needs to a) have a plan and b) know the terrain both from a management standpoint and from a community relations standpoint. Finally, the person needs to be a leader. We haven’t had a leader at St. Cloud State in years.

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Forgive me for being cynical at this point but I’m not optimistic that the MnSCU nationwide search committee will hire the right person for the job. I won’t be surprised if the next president of St. Cloud State is a social justice hire. I can picture MnSCU hiring a minority female with little or no executive experience, much less executive success.

What’s required is a no-frills leader with a comprehensive plan to rebuild, not rebrand, St. Cloud State. The biggest change St. Cloud State has made in the last decade is that they’ve tried changing the University’s identity. It wasn’t that long ago that St. Cloud State was known as having great programs like accounting, aviation, criminal justice and education. These days, those programs aren’t featured. In the case of aviation, it was sneered at, then eliminated.

That was stupid on multiple levels. First, the program was growing at the time it was cancelled. Next, those students were taking lots of science classes, which increased the health of the science department. Third, the cost of the department to the University was minimal. Programs that are growing, healthy and inexpensive should be programs that should be prioritized, not eliminated. This was a case of campus politics defeated common sense. As taxpayers, we have the right to demand intelligent use of our taxes. We have the right to demand that campus politics be kept to a minimum, too.

By re-establishing St. Cloud State as a serious academic institution, the University gives students a reason for attending St. Cloud State. You give parents a reason for sending their kids to St. Cloud State. In a recent St. Cloud Times spin piece on enrollment, they talked about how enrollment had declined again but the ‘silver lining’ was that diversity was better. What student or parent thinks of diversity as a major selling point to a university? Seriously, any administrator that’s using that as a talking point should be fired ASAP.

Another thing that must change at St. Cloud State is that the new administration must require professors to actually teach classes. A new president likely won’t notice that Mark Jaede is essentially paid to be a union representative and political activist. That dead weight must end immediately.

The next president must also be at a stage in their career where they can do what’s best for the University without worrying about the impact their decisions will have on their career.

In summarization, St. Cloud State’s next president must have a plan to immediately turn the University around. That president must have the leadership skills to execute their plan, too. The next president can’t hesitate in refocusing the University’s resources on what’s most important. To modify a phrase used by the Clinton team in 1992, ‘it’s the academics, stupid.’ Finally, it’s about creating a university that’s pumping out tons of well-educated graduates that fit right into a vibrant economy.

If the next president of St. Cloud State doesn’t have those traits, then the University has short-changed itself.

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This article confirms my worst fear for St. Cloud State going forward. It’s disturbing because it reports that “Minnesota State’s Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra says they are beginning a national search immediately. They are working with a professional firm, AGB Search, and the Chancellor will name a search chair by the end of the week. He says it’s his intention to kick off the search prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.”

A new president who doesn’t know the terrain will require on-the-job training. With St. Cloud State experiencing a financial crisis, the University can’t afford someone whose first steps will be to get to know the communities he or she will serve. As I said in this post, I said “We need a president that will instantly connect with area principals. What’s needed is someone who will sell the University’s programs. It’s imperative to immediately create a positive buzz about the University. There isn’t time for a search committee. What’s needed is someone who’s already familiar with SCSU and someone who’s a no-nonsense person.”

Frankly, MnSCU has screwed up so many appointments that they shouldn’t get the benefit of any doubts. Until they start making smart decisions on the biggest decisions, they should be kept on the sidelines. At minimum, MnSCU should consult with community leaders heavily before making a decision. Further, it’s imperative that our legislative leaders and community leaders be listened to.

We don’t need another pointy-headed academic with a vision for what he wants. Altogether too often, St. Cloud State hasn’t done what the community needs it to do. What’s needed is someone who will rebuild St. Cloud State, not rebrand it. St. Cloud State hasn’t put a priority on rebuilding the University. Fairly or unfairly, people think that they’ve put a higher priority on building new buildings than they’ve put on maintaining great academic programs.

St. Cloud State needs to be responsive and accountable to the city. St. Cloud has been a blue collar city. St. Cloud State hasn’t been a blue collar university. It was predictable that the Wedum project would fail. Then we found out that the administration signed a terrible contract with the Foundation. Building upscale apartments for college students is as foolish as building a condo unit across from a bar.

At what point will the city say ‘Stop making stupid decisions with the taxpayers’ money?’ This is infuriating. What’s more infuriating is the fact that there’s a highly qualified candidate right here in town. This candidate knows the area. Most importantly, he’s got a plan to rebuild St. Cloud State.

Hiring him would help St. Cloud State and MnSCU avoid making another foolish mistake.

Thursday afternoon, I appeared on KNSI’s Ox in the Afternoon to talk about Ashish Vaidya’s announcement that he’s leaving MnSCU (and Minnesota) to become the next president at Northern Kentucky University. Follow this link to listen to that interview. It’s the third interview on the page. But I digress.

During the interview, Ox brought up the subject of what’s next for the University. He mentioned this while questioning whether the University was beyond the point of saving. At that point, I said that, had someone told me 5 years ago that we’d be having this conversation, I likely would’ve taken that bet. The possibility of St. Cloud shutting its doors was unthinkable at that time. It isn’t unthinkable anymore.

To be substantive, though, what’s needed is a rethinking of the management style at SCSU. First, what’s required is a president who isn’t worried about whether his decisions will hurt his career. What’s needed is someone with the intelligence, and willingness, to trim the fat from the administration. Initially, those savings should go into rebuilding the faculty and into scholarships to get students interested in the University.

The other thing that’s needed is the rebuilding of the Aviation Department. Frankly, it was a major mistake to eliminate that program. Right now, there are major wildfires burning in the mountain west. There’s no reason why SCSU couldn’t have a program that trains students in firefighting and rescue operations. It isn’t like they’re getting trained at community colleges or trade schools. Another program that should fit into that Aviation Department is drone training.

With border security becoming a high priority with the federal government, new high-paying jobs are virtually guaranteed upon graduation. From what I’m told, those jobs come with $50,000-$75,000 a year starting pay and virtually 100% placement upon graduation. Call me crazy but a program like that sounds like an enrollment magnet.

Once the enrollment starts improving, there will be other issues that need addressing. A major review and overhaul of the University’s financial decisions is required. Systems need to be put in place to eliminate some of the past decisions and prevent them from happening again. There can’t be another contract signed with the Wedum Foundation. That contract hurt the University badly. I know the perfect person for that position.

We need a president that will instantly connect with area principals. What’s needed, too, is someone who will sell the University’s programs. It’s imperative to immediately create a positive buzz about the University. There isn’t time for a search committee. What’s needed is someone who’s already familiar with SCSU and someone who’s a no-nonsense person. That immediately eliminates Roland Specht-Jarvis from serious consideration. He knows the turf but he’s too into playing politics.

The next president needs to be given the authority to clean house. He needs to be able to pick his own team and the authority to make unpopular but needed decisions. Another thing that the next president will need is unwavering support from civic leaders and financial help from the legislature. I’m not proposing throwing good money after bad. I’m talking about the next president having a plan that they want to execute and the wherewithal to implement that plan.

That plan needs to return the University to the things that made it successful. Rebuild the School of Business. Restart the Aviation Program. Re-open other successful schools. Implementing that plan will create a positive buzz that turns the University around in a proverbial heartbeat.

The Chamber of Commerce needs to step forward and support the new president. A failing university isn’t helping St. Cloud’s economy. If they prefer playing both sides, the University loses. If the University loses, so does St. Cloud’s economy.

The reforms that St. Cloud State needs also are required at MnSCU. My hope is that GOP gubernatorial candidates take this opportunity to fix the disaster that was created in the 1990s. MnSCU has been a disaster from the day it was signed into law. It’s accountable to no one. It hasn’t done what it promised to do. MnSCU’s Board of Trustees is filled with ex-politicians who are essentially waiting for their next political campaign to happen. Universities need to be accountable to their communities, not to a bunch of career politicians 50+ miles away.

This is a nice blueprint to copy:

The presidential search committee, composed of NKU’s Board of Regents, faculty, staff, students and community members, recommended Vaidya after an eight-month process. The board of regents unanimously elected him Wednesday morning.

It isn’t that MnSCU needs a search committee to find the next president of St. Cloud State. It’s that the next president needs the support of “faculty, staff, students and community members.”

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This morning, Devinder Malhotra, the interim chancellor for MnSCU, published a letter announcing that Ashish Vaidya, the interim president of St. Cloud State, “has accepted the presidency at Northern Kentucky University”, adding that “President Vaidya came into his current presidency at a very difficult time. With the sudden passing of President Earl Potter, St. Cloud State University needed a leader who could not only keep the university moving forward in a positive manner but also help the university heal.”

Later in the letter, Malhotra wrote “Both in his time as provost and as interim president, President Vaidya has brought to the university a laser focus that faculty and staff needed to address the institution’s challenges, which culminated in the successful completion of the strategic plan with a strong focus on growing enrollment and retention.”

Still later in the letter, Malhotra said “President Vaidya had strong support both across campus and in the St. Cloud community. It was their feedback that prompted me to develop a path to retain him. In my conversations with President Vaidya, he shared how difficult this decision was for him. I respect his decision as he pursues the next phase of his professional career.”

First, it’s impossible for me to believe that this was a difficult decision. The University’s CFO is leaving. Programs are being reduced in size. Enrollment is down. Further, the deficits keep ‘arriving’ annually. Further, President Vaidya hasn’t been at the University very long. What part of that sounds like a dream job scenario?

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Colleagues, As you know, Interim President Ashish Vaidya has accepted the presidency at Northern Kentucky University. Please join me in congratulating him on this great honor. President Vaidya came into his current presidency at a very difficult time. With the sudden passing of President Earl Potter, St. Cloud State University needed a leader who could not only keep the university moving forward in a positive manner but also help the university heal. He did just that. President Vaidya mourned along with students, faculty, staff, and the community but also gave them something to hope for. A stronger and better university – a stronger and better St. Cloud.

Both in his time as provost and as interim president, President Vaidya has brought to the university a laser focus that faculty and staff needed to address the institution’s challenges, which culminated in the successful completion of the strategic plan with a strong focus on growing enrollment and retention. In the last year, he led the effort to raise $4.1 million, which represents a 22 percent increase over the previous year; and worked with the legislative delegation to secure $18 million for the Eastman Hall project. In addition, he has fostered deep relationships with the city and the community, serving on multiple boards including the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation.

His leadership was perhaps best witnessed during the events that followed the St. Cloud Crossroads Mall stabbing. President Vaidya along with university and community leaders came together in an incredible demonstration of support. He engaged students, faculty, and staff and listened – he trusted in their leadership that together they would find a way for the university and the community to move forward. Perhaps that is his greatest talent – the ability to listen and for others to be heard. For that we are grateful for his contributions and leadership not only to St. Cloud State University but to Minnesota State as well.

The feedback I received from internal and external stakeholders was abundantly clear during my recent visit to campus. President Vaidya had strong support both across campus and in the St. Cloud community. It was their feedback that prompted me to develop a path to retain him. In my conversations with President Vaidya, he shared how difficult this decision was for him. I respect his decision as he pursues the next phase of his professional career.

In my brief time as chancellor, I have been impressed with President Vaidya’s strategic and analytical mind, his integrity, and his deep passion and commitment for the university and student success. So it is understandable that Northern Kentucky University saw those same qualities. The students, faculty, and staff at NKU are fortunate to have a leader of President Vaidya’s caliber to lead the university.

President Vaidya will see his commitment to St. Cloud State University through until June 30, 2018, successfully completing his two-year contract. We will begin a national search immediately. The services of AGB Search have been secured, and a search chair will be named by the end of this week. A timeline of events will be shared in the coming week. It is my intention to kick off the search prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. In order to do that I need your help to give me insight on the qualities that you would like to see in the next president of St. Cloud State University. I also will be asking for your help as we all need to be in recruiting mode over the weeks ahead to have a strong pool of candidates to invite to campus.

I look forward to working with you over the next few months to find a leader who can continue to build on the great work of President Vaidya and the SCSU community.

Best,

Devinder Malhotra
Interim Chancellor

Rumors started surfacing months ago that Vaidya was interviewing for other jobs. This announcement isn’t surprising from the standpoint that people expected him to leave this situation. The instability, both of the University and at MnSCU, doesn’t lend itself to attracting the best candidates for major offices. Malhotra is the interim Chancellor of MnSCU. St Cloud State’s problems keep multiplying.

It’s “bullroar” to think that Vaidya successfully completed “the strategic plan with a strong focus on growing enrollment and retention.” Enrollment is still declining and retention isn’t good. I’m not blaming these things on President Vaidya. He inherited a difficult situation. I’m merely stating that he didn’t accomplish what Malhotra said he accomplished.

UPDATE: Here’s Vaidya’s announcement from NKU:

It isn’t surprising that Nancy Pelosi is calling for an independent investigation to prevent Russian meddling in US elections.

In her statement, Ms. Pelosi said “Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation to expose Russia’s meddling in our election and the involvement of Trump officials,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Monday. “Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.”

This seems like stupid messaging. This morning, it was announced that Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates had been indicted. According to the indictment, some of the alleged illegal activity happened before Barack announced his candidacy for president.

Ms. Pelosi decision to call for this independent investigation steps all over the message that Manafort has been indicted. When there’s bad news coming out about your political adversary, exit the stage and let them endure the spotlight. Ms. Pelosi apparently didn’t figure it out that she should leave the stage.

Erick Erickson’s op-ed on the Manafort indictment is worth reading. In his op-ed, Erickson wrote “The Mueller team looked into the campaign, went down various rabbit holes, and wound up in Manafort’s tax returns circa 2012, well before Trump considered running for office. Therefore, they can claim, there is nothing there with the campaign.”

Judge Napolitano’s explanation might help shed light on the importance of the Manafort indictment:

At this point, there’s nothing found thus far that hints the Trump campaign worked with Putin’s administration to win the election. The thought that Putin tried meddling with the election is something that the overwhelming majority of Americans have already accepted. In terms of momentum, this isn’t a game-changer.

Mark Jaede has been a DFL activist for years. I remember covering an event he planned during Gov. Dayton’s government shutdown in July, 2011. Jaede’s activism hasn’t waned since then. In fact, Dr. Jaede is using government resources to promote his political activism. Last night, I got an email from a loyal reader of LFR. Included in the email is the email Dr. Jaede sent to St. Cloud State’s Announce listserv.

From what I’ve been told, Announce is only supposed to be used to announce University events. If people want to discuss community-related events, they’re supposed to use the Discuss listserv. This isn’t the first time Dr. Jaede has misused this government resource.

Dr. Jaede opened his activist announcement by saying “Colleagues, St. Cloud City Council Member Jeff Johnson reportedly plans to submit a resolution calling for a temporary ban on resettlement of refugees in St. Cloud. This is an action associated with the anti-Muslim speakers who have been touring Minnesota and recently held an anti-Muslim session at Granite City Baptist Church. You can learn more here: http://www.unitecloud.org/supportcentralmnrefugees/ If you wish to share your views on the resolution, you can find councilmembers’ email addresses here: http://ci.stcloud.mn.us/Directory.aspx?DID=35

This isn’t related to the University. That’s political activism. There’s more to Jaede’s email:

The Mission – St. Cloud, MN – Official Website
ci.stcloud.mn.us
The mission of the City of St. Cloud is to provide high quality public services for our residents in a cost effective, responsive, innovative and professional manner …

Or you can attend the upcoming City Council meeting on the evening of Monday, October 23. If you are a St. Cloud resident you may address the council.

As always, any responses to this announcement should be sent to Discuss or to me personally, not to Announce.

Best,

Mark

If Jaede wants to be a DFL activist, that’s his choice. Being a DFL activist on the taxpayers’ dime isn’t ok, though.

According to his University webpage, Jaede is the “Director of Latin American Studies” at “St. Cloud State University.” Further, the webpage for St. Cloud State’s Latin-American Studies program states “When you choose the Latin American Studies program, you will learn about the people, lands and cultures of Latin America and their interactions with the rest of the world. You’ll study their language and their history as well as the social, economic, environmental and international issues facing the countries of that region. You will complete a year of coursework in Spanish or Portuguese and be encouraged to travel to view situations first-hand. Through service-learning projects and internships, you’ll have opportunities to work alongside those hoping to improve their corner of the world.”

I’m 100% positive that Somalia isn’t part of Latin America.

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It seems like everything that Democrats criticize Republicans about is because the Republicans’ actions are unconstitutional. At least, that’s the Democrats’ dishonest accusation. Janet Napolitano’s op-ed is similarly dishonest. The op-ed starts innocently enough. The second paragraph states “Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Obama Administration urged young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children to voluntarily undergo rigorous background and security checks in exchange for the renewable option to legally live, work, and study in the country they know as home.”

It doesn’t take long, though, to turn ugly. The fourth paragraph says “Now the future of DACA is in jeopardy. The Trump administration’s plan to end the program is illegal, unconstitutional, and anathema to our national ethos. It also defies common sense. I believed in the importance of DACA five years ago, and I will fight for it now.”

First off, President Trump’s plan is to have Congress pass legislation that protects recipients of DACA. Not only isn’t that unconstitutional, it’s the essence of following the Constitution. Democrats don’t like that President Trump isn’t the negotiating pushover they’d prefer. He’s actually insisting that Democrats fund the building of the wall in exchange for making DACA protections permanent.

This is why the University of California Board of Regents and I have filed suit in federal court against the Department of Homeland Security. On behalf of the university and our DACA students, we have asked the court to overturn the rescission of this program I helped create.

There’s little doubt that Napolitano will win when the 9th Circuit hears the case. There’s less doubt that she’ll lose when it gets to the Supreme Court. This paragraph is utterly laughable:

No court has found DACA to be invalid, and indeed, the Department of Justice reaffirmed its validity in 2014.

Having Loretta Lynch or Eric Holder certify anything is laughable beyond belief. They both helped politicize pretty much everything the DOJ got their hands on. This paragraph is utterly laughable:

In the interim, and until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, we must fight this shortsighted and unlawful move. These young people are, in every sense but one, as American as those whose relatives arrived in this country on the Mayflower.

That’s like saying that arsonists are law-abiding citizens except one. That difference is the major determining factor. That difference is that these illegal immigrants broke the laws of this nation. There isn’t any dispute that Congress writes the immigration laws of this land:

Article 1 – The Legislative Branch Section 8 – Powers of Congress

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization