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Are Student Ratings Important?
by Silence Dogood

I can’t say that I recommend the RATE MY PROFESSORS website. A lot of the time, I think it is just an outlet for frustrated students to vent their frustration. Truthfully, until last Wednesday, I had never looked at the website. But I was curious and just for fun decided to take a look to see what I might find. I looked first at St. Cloud State University.

Not really understanding what a 3.4 might mean, for comparison I looked at Minnesota State University—Mankato rankings, the university most similar to SCSU in the Minnesota State System.

Based on these overall rankings, which are not scientifically valid, SCSU comes out ahead of only Metropolitan State University in the overall quality rating!

For each and every measure, SCSU trails MSU—Mankato. Most significantly, in the safety ranking 3.0 vs. 3.8. But for the reputation measure, I was a bit miffed at SCSU’s reputation ranking of 3.1 vs. MSU—Mankato’s 3.4.

Next, I decided to look at the rest of the universities in the Minnesota State System.

However, what is clearly unsettling is that SCSU trails ALL of the universities in the Minnesota State System in the ranking for reputation:

These rankings may be anecdotal and have some validity issues. However, students use them. And they use them a lot!

For many years, administrators have said that SCSU hasn’t done a good job ‘telling its story.’ And in the past that may have been true. However, many of these same administrators and their replacements have been saying this for so long that it is hard to believe that they haven’t been held accountable for not doing a better job of telling SCSU’s story. Unless of course you believe that just saying that ‘they’ haven’t done a good job telling the story is explanation enough. It almost seems this explanation is good enough for the titanic enrollment drop since FY10. With no end in sight for the enrollment drop, it might be reasonable to ask is anyone ever held accountable at SCSU?

Does St. Cloud State University Have A CFO?
by Silence Dogood

If you wanted to inquire about the financial health of St. Cloud State University, you might expect to go to the website for the Office of Finance and Administration and mine the site for current information. On February 18, 2018, I performed this search.

The Vision Statement clearly states: “The Office of Finance and Administration at St. Cloud State University will be a recognized leader in providing services to the university community.” I’ll come back to this Vision Statement later.

Click on the link “Contact Us/Feedback” and you are taken to the webpage:

If you search SCSU’s website for McGee, you get the following:

So if you wanted to try to contact the Vice President for Finance and Administration, you’re out of luck. But this is really not new news. Tammy L. H. McGee WAS the Vice President for Finance and Administration until she quit/retired as of November 13, 2017. Apparently, the website simply has not been updated in almost five months to reflect her departure.

If you click on the link for “Financial Reports” you are taken to the webpage:

If you wanted to see an annual report from FY 2002 to FY 2014, just click on the link and voila! Unfortunately, this is FY2018, which you might not expect to find, but the annual reports for FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017 are missing. While it is true that you can find SCSU’s annual reports on the Minnesota State website, they should be available here. If nothing else, simply put in a link to the Minnesota State website.

If you click on the link for “Budget Advisory Group” you are taken to the webpage:

There is no information listed for FY18. The last information in the FY17 folder is for the April 27, 2017 meeting. The Budget Advisory Group was a committee with the Vice President for Finance and Administration and a faculty member from the Faculty Budget Committee serving as co-Chairs. It seems that the university is no longer willing to share financial data, especially because much of the data shows SCSU’s precarious financial situation.

If you explore the link for campus presentations you find:

This is April of 2018, it’s hard to believe that no new media has become available for two years and any new documents have become available for almost three years! If you were aspiring to being “open and transparent” organization, this would hardly be the path that any organization would take.

After looking at their website, if you were to rate the fulfillment of the Office of Finance and Administration Vision Statement to be: “a recognized leader in providing services to the university community,” you would probably have to give the university an F.

It is interesting to note that since my email is being read by the administration (and this article was originally written back in February but not published until now), they have since removed Tammy McGee from being listed as the Vice President for Finance and Administration and now list the position as “vacant.” It’s nice to see that things change, albeit slowly. Unfortunately, the underlying issues and the lack of openness have created a level of distrust on campus that is almost palpable.

Is There Difference in Strategic Planning at MSU—Mankato and SCSU?
by Silence Dogood

On March 28th, the academic deans at St. Cloud State announced to their department chairs that they had until April 20th to finish a complete program review process that would be used to make budget reductions for FY’19, which begins on July 1st. Since SCSU has had declining enrollments since FY’10 and multimillion dollar deficits year after year, it is hard to understand the urgency of this process. That may sound crazy but at President Vaidya’s open forum on February 28th, he spent more time talking about SCSU’s successful athletic teams and initiatives than the budget situation. It’s hard to believe but true, as evidenced by listening to the presentation!

This past Friday, April 6th—two weeks before the department reviews were even to be completed—key academic deans met with the provost to review their own draft decisions about programs that should be “built,” “maintained,” or “phased out.” This was done without consideration to the rushed review process, which had not even been completed, which makes the program review process appear meaningless.

Having these reviews due the Friday before the last week of classes will certainly not allow for any appeal of the decisions that are made because the review by the administration will not be complete until the students and faculty have departed campus for the summer. True leaders are willing to explain and justify their decisions. Interim SCSU President Ashish Vaidya will be departing campus on June 30th to assume the presidency at Northern Kentucky. It’s hard to believe that he will ever have to explain or justify to the faculty, staff and students the decisions he has made.

Compare this with the process MSU—Mankato is using to perform the same task.

Not only did MSU—Mankato start earlier (last August, not in the last month of the semester), their process is actually open and transparent. This fact is glaringly obvious simply by looking at MSU—Mankato’s Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment website.

No similar information about the process being used for evaluation is available for SCSU. And what information that is available seems to be only available on private (closed) servers. So much for being open and transparent.

Many universities in the Minnesota State system have recently seen significant enrollment declines and concomitant declines in revenue. However, the enrollment declines at SCSU began earlier (FY’11) and have been significantly larger than any of the other Minnesota State universities. At first, the administrative response at SCSU was that we were “right sizing.” This was then followed by its due to “demographics.” Followed by “everyone is declining.” Followed by there are “not enough resources from the state.”

A historian might look back at this and simply see a series of excuses that try to say “it’s not my fault.” However, if you dig deeper, it is very clear that SCSU has been embarrassingly slow to respond to the decline and has been completely reactive rather than proactive.

It is important to recognize that neither President Potter, President Vaidya, or Provost Malhotra were willing to establish an enrollment target for the university. Thus, “right sizing” the university was just a fantasy or delusion. Secondly, they never established priorities of academic programs or student services. This has resulted in every unit merely fighting to live no matter what the cost is to neighboring programs. Without such guidance, it appears more like gladiator combat or dog fighting, with the ‘best’ gladiator (or dog) surviving to live to fight another day.

While there are certainly many issues that have led SCSU to the place it finds itself in, one of the more significant is that the senior administration at SCSU is almost entirely made up of ‘interim’ appointments. Although some of these individuals may be quality people, the pressure of being an interim, that perhaps wants to be appointed permanently, almost certainly means that significant decisions are put off for the permanent person to make.

At SCSU, the President is an interim, the Provost is an interim, two academic deans are interims, one associate dean is an interim, the Associate Provost for Research and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies is an interim, the Dean of the University College is an interim, the Director of the Center for Excellence and Teaching and Learning is an interim, and the Associate Vice President for International Studies is an interim. Such a large number of interims at a university is a clear sign that there is something wrong. The following figure shows the organizational structure from the website for the Academic Affairs Office.

Perhaps even worse than having a large number of interims is that since June of 2012 there have been five Chief Financial Officers (Steve Ludwig, Len Sippel, Doug Vinzant, Rick Duffet, and Tammy McGee). Tammy McGee resigned in November of 2017. It may be hard to believe for an organization with an annual budget over $200,000,000 but an interim has yet to be named! Also, last spring the Chief Information Officer was ‘promoted’ (some said President Trump’s favorite phase on his reality TV show) to a position in the Minnesota State central office. Since that time, Information Technology Services, which has a staff of forty-six, does not have an interim CIO although it appears that the Deputy Chief Information Officer is carrying out those duties.

It’s hard to believe that whatever results come out of the current program analysis that they are going to solve the enrollment decline and resulting budget issues any time soon. So, expect the enrollment decline to continue at SCSU and retrenchment and closings of programs to follow. There are simply too many balls up in the air and the crash is inevitable.

Do You Believe In The Easter Bunny?
by Silence Dogood

According to an article in the St. Cloud Times on May 2, 2016, five members of the St. Cloud State University women’s tennis team have sued the university,

In a March 2, 2016 St. Cloud Times article about the proposed cuts to sports programs, President Potter is quoted:

In a document provided by SCSU entitled St. Cloud State Intercollegiate Athletics Frequently Asked Questions, there is the following table showing roster participants.

So in the 2016-17 academic year, it appears that there will be 254 women participants and 250 men participants. Nothing here shows unequal opportunities under Title IX. However, if you total up the numbers for 2015-16, you find that the women had 246 participants and the men had 374. As a result, in 2015-16, the men had 128 more participants than the women!

I may have been born at night—it just wasn’t last night! If there are 128 more men participants in intercollegiate sports than women, it certainly seems like this might be a violation of Title IX equal opportunity provisions. I guess that with such a large disparity between men’s and women’s participants in 2015-16, it was probably wise for the administration not to show the numbers totaled!

The lawsuit alleges that the university, for years, has offered more athletic opportunities for men than for women. Clearly, based on the 2015-16 academic year from the data provided by SCSU, the students have a strong case. Looking back at the participation numbers for previous years should be pretty easy to do. If the numbers for the prior years are similar to those for 2015-16, I’m fairly certain that SCSU will not issue a press release. So in this case, no press release means there were more opportunities for men than women, essentially proving the student’s case. If a press release comes out with the numbers showing equal access, the students probably don’t stand a chance in court.

As President, Earl Potter has the right to shut down any athletic program he wants to (just like he has the right to close any academic program—think aviation). After all, he is the President. So if he wants to reduce the number of participants to bring SCSU into Title IX compliance, he can certainly do so and in fact is obligated to do so under Title IX. In the March 2, 2016 SC Times article, it also states:

So President Potter may have been hinting that some of reductions in sports programs are due to Title IX considerations. I guess that is a whole lot better than saying for the nine years I’ve been President; we’ve been out of compliance with Title IX so these cuts are necessary to bring us into compliance. Instead, he used the urgency of a 10 million dollar budget deficit to justify cutting six sports programs—just so he wouldn’t have to explain why for years SCSU has been out of compliance with Title IX.

Some analysis of the proposed reductions in sports programs do not indicate that there will be a $250,000 savings as claimed by the administration. In fact, it has been argued that the reductions will actually cost the university more that what it claims it will save. The one thing for certain is that the administration’s handling of the elimination of the sports programs has given St. Cloud State another ‘black eye’ and the publicity from the lawsuit brings up the $8.7 million dollar loss on Coborn’s Plaza Apartments (over six years), a 24.8% decline in on campus students (since 2009-10), and the $10 million dollar budget deficit for FY17, all of which does not does not address any of the solutions to these complex problems.

So what does this all have to do with the Easter Bunny? Not a lot. However, if you believe in an egg laying long-eared, cotton-tailed creature, maybe you just might believe that the cuts in the sports programs at SCSU were part of solving the $10 million dollar budget deficit and not a clever way to bring SCSU into Title IX compliance without drawing attention to the fact it was so far out of compliance. Cutting $250,000 from the athletic department budget solves only 2.5% of the $10,000,000, as President Potter refers to it, “budget hole to close.” Obviously, more work needs to be done to end up with a budget that doesn’t result in a deficit—since there are no longer any mandated reserves to spend down.

Now if someone could only explain why the Easter Bunny’s eggs are made out of chocolate we might be able to solve one of the few last remaining mysteries.

Is SCSU A Great Place To Work?
by Silence Dogood

Any analysis of the results from the Great Place to Work Survey demonstrates that SCSU is not a great place to work. The extremely low rankings for the administration by all groups are an indictment or perhaps even a vote of no confidence in the senior leadership. To his credit, President Earl Potter seems to be making an effort. In an email to all employees:

The College of Science and Engineering’s Listening Session was scheduled for Thursday, February 25th:

Then it was rescheduled:

Then it was rescheduled again:

Now the listening session is scheduled during final exams—in fact, the day before commencement. If you want to schedule a time when fewer people would be there, I’m not sure that would be possible. Certainly, there won’t be a lot of listening because there probably won’t be a lot of talking. Who knows, this may have been the plan all along.

On Monday, May 2, 2016, the following email was received:

For the third time, the ‘Listening Session’ has been postponed. In baseball, three strikes and you’re out! Clearly, ‘listening’ does not appear to be a priority for President Potter.

The Policy of Mean!
by Silence Dogood

In March of 2015, Director of Human Resources Holly J. Schoenherr sent an email to all faculty and staff:

Essentially, the email announced that staff would no longer be able to work alternative summer schedules (i.e., adjust their schedules during the summer to work four ten-hour days instead of the regular five eight-hour days). As stated in the email, the purpose was to “give managers the ability to ensure essential staffing levels to meet the critical needs of students and others we serve.” However, there are very few classes held on Fridays in the summer so it seems that there were going to be a lot of office staff sitting around in offices in nearly empty buildings. So just what are these critical needs and who are the students and others needing to be served? This made no sense!

If you are not familiar with Minnesota’s weather, because of the severity of the winters, the summer is both short and precious. As a result, allowing staff to work a four-day week and have long weekends simply is an acknowledgement that few people actually look forward to having a day off in January when it is -20°F outside.

Here’s how one employee put it:

The point of contention is that the decision was made by the President’s Council without any discussion with the people it directly impacted. A main criticism of the administration illuminated by the Great Place to Work Survey was that employees were not involved in decision making. As a result, this pronouncement by the President’s Council certainly went a long way to help re-establish the good will of the staff towards the administration that the Great Place to Work Survey noted was sorely lacking—NOT!

It is only fair to note that this summer the administration is once again allowing staff to work alternative summer schedules, when approved by their supervisor. Perhaps the administration learned a valuable lesson.

On April 21, 2016, President Potter sent a lengthy email to all employees stating that everyone would have to complete online training:

Later in the lengthy email it stated:

Based on item #7, everyone was given six workdays to complete the training. It only takes just over an hour to complete the training and that would normally not be too difficult except that this is the last week of classes (i.e., the week before finals). For many, this is an extremely busy time with grading, test preparation and reading of papers given top priority. Adding one more deadline and one more task for some might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back!

As a result of numerous complaints, the deadline was extended until Sunday, May 8th, which helps a bit. However, this still begs the question as to why this was not announced back in January at the beginning of the semester? Could it have anything to do with the arrival on campus of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on April 20, 2016 to investigate the handling of a sexual assault complaint?

However, if you read #7, it clearly states that the administration is using the ‘stick’ rather than the ‘carrot’ approach for compliance.

It sounds like they really want everyone to complete the training.

However, it doesn’t end there. In #8, it continues that

Clearly, the tone of this communication, as well as others (the most recent of which is changes in the parking program), makes it clear that employees are tolerated rather than valued. It is hard to imagine this insensitive approach will make employees at SCSU feel better about their place of employment. I guess we could find out how well the administration is doing by completing another Great Place to Work Survey (which President Potter has promised for this fall). According to the first survey, there wasn’t much room to go lower. However, I’m willing to bet that the new results will make President Potter think of the first survey as the ‘good old days.’ I keep thinking that morale on campus can’t get any worse but it seems that the administration keeps trying harder and succeeding at finding new ways to drive it lower.

Frequently, the administration says that all of the discord on campus is just a few ‘disgruntled’ faculty. If you analyze the results from the Great Place to Work Survey, it is clear that the vast majority of faculty/staff/administrators demonstrated that there is a morale problem at SCSU—not just a select few. Given what has transpired at SCSU since the release of the survey results, I see no reason to be optimistic that the morale has improved despite President Potter’s “listening sessions.” Listening is important. However, actions speak louder than words.

You Can Only Defer Maintenance For Only So Long!
by Silence Dogood

A year ago, as a result of declining enrollments, the SCSU parking ramp ran a deficit of $50,000. The simple solution to the shortfall was to defer some maintenance. Unfortunately, deferring maintenance is only a short-term solution. At some point, things need to be fixed and replaced. However, maintenance funds are an easy target when you are strapped for cash. Given SCSU’s repeated deficits, maintenance funds have become a stopgap to solve the financial hemorrhaging. The results around campus are obvious.

As a result of declining revenues, cuts have been made to cleaning services and spiders seem to have taken over some of the windows:

While deferring window cleaning may save some money, at some point it starts to look pretty disgusting! The image shows an example where it has gotten to looking disgusting!

Small maintenance projects on some of the buildings on campus are also being overlooked. Unfortunately, some look really bad! The South side of the ‘Administrative Services’ building (i.e., the home of the administration) is shown in the following image:

While it should not hard be too for a college student to figure out the name of the building—think Wheel of Fortune; it really is embarrassing. However, at least historically, it seems that building signage has never been a priority. After the renovation and addition to the Electrical and Computing Center (ECC), the Mathematics department moved out of the “Math and Science Center” into its new offices. It only took just over twenty years to finally rename the building to indicate that the math department was no longer housed in the “Math and Science Center.” That’s why I’m not holding my breath on the timeline for fixing the “INI TRA IVE SERVICE” building. Perhaps this is how it should be listed on campus maps to make it easier to find and avoid confusion.

Somewhere on campus, there must be a huge stash of trashcans since it seems that many, if not most, have been removed from the hallways and staircases on campus. As a result, students seem to feel free to leave their trash just about anywhere whenever there isn’t an available trashcan. The following image shows the resting place for a student ‘s not quite finished beverage:

Unfortunately, the maintenance staff has suffered significant cuts since 2011 so that it may take several days before a partially consumed beverage like this one finds its way into a trash container. Even where there are trash containers, it seems that they don’t get emptied on as regular a schedule as needed because often times they are overflowing. The following is an image of a trash container from 8:30 am so it has probably been full for a while:

In the end, the issue comes down to setting priorities. Given the repeated budget deficits, there clearly aren’t enough resources to do everything that needs to be done. As a result, the administration is often faced with a decision between two bad choices. That’s why they’re paid the big bucks. However, while such decisions are not always easy, the bigger and perhaps more important thing to understand is how SCSU got into this situation in the first place.

A 1905 quote attributed to George Santayana in its original form:

Unless SCSU can understand how it ended up with a 24.5% enrollment decline and repeated multimillion-dollar deficits, it’s hard to believe that the path forward will put the university onto a course to return to its’ flagship status in MnSCU (or Minnesota State if the rebranding goes forward). However, that may not be President Potter’s plan for SCSU—as the acceptance rate creeps up over 90% it might just be to become the largest junior college in Minnesota. If that’s the plan, it appears that it’s succeeding.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
by Silence Dogood

The day after a news report came out saying that the MnSCU Board of Trustees approved changing its name, University Communications published a ‘clarifying’ email:

The email clearly states:

Additionally, this is included:

Here’s the appropriate reaction to those quotes:

OK, so maybe it’s not too much of a protest. However, it clearly states that a final decision hasn’t been made and that a final decision will not come before the June Board of Trustee’s Meeting. I guess they didn’t tell the MnSCU’s (excuse me Minnesota State’s) IT services folks! If you search for MnSCU, the following webpage appears:

Look at the header for the page! It looks to me like MnSCU has now become “Minnesota State.” Looking at the webpage for the Board of Trustees you find:

Clearly, it looks like a similar header indicating MnSCU has now become ‘Minnesota State.’ It doesn’t take a lot of effort but it is not difficult to still find the ‘regular’ MnSCU header on its’ webpages.

Clearly, the web folks haven’t updated all of Minnesota State’s webpages yet! Still, it contradicts their “No final decision have been made” and “is anticipated for June” statements. Compare that to Jack Nicholson’s famous line in the 1992 movie A Few Good Men:

I think most of us can handle the truth. In fact, we typically demand the truth. Having the Chancellor (he is ultimately responsible for all of the PR that comes out of his office) lie is simply unacceptable. ‘Rebranding’ is all the rage in organizations and when someone questions the wisdom of spending money on rebranding when at least 19 of 31 of the colleges and universities in ‘Minnesota State’ have submitted financial recovery plans is almost beyond belief.

Next it will be said that MnSCU has always been “Minnesota State” and the latest effort is simply refinements and polishing the brand. It remains that $600,000 pays for a lot of polishing! In the political world that’s called spin. In less refined circles, it’s called BS so maybe MS (more of the same) is really what this rebranding as Minnesota State (MS) is all about!

But in the American cattle business, where branding got its start, a new brand does not fundamentally change the bull. The simple truth is that if Dr. Rosenstone can’t tell the truth about the rebranding fiasco, then it is time for Dr. Rosenstone to go. Waiting until 2017 for him to retire is too long for Minnesota State to start a process of recovery.

Is the Ship Sinking?
by Silence Dogood

Thursday morning, an email came from the Vice President for Finance and Administration Tammy L. McGee announcing the departure of the Director of Human Resources Holly Schoenherr.

Holly was responsible for the Great Place to Work Survey. The results of the GPTW Survey can only be described as an indictment of the administration (others might say a vote of no confidence in the administration). Additionally, the ‘reorganization’ of the Human Resources area has been described by some as a ‘house cleaning’ where a number of key long-time employees left out of exasperation.

Heather Weems was hired in June of 2012 as SCSU’s first female athletic director replacing Morris Kurtz who had been SCSU’s athletic director for twenty-seven years. Less than four years later, just after cutting 6 sports programs, negatively affecting 80 out of 530 student athletes, it appears that she is looking to leave SCSU. On March 31, 2016, Heather Weems was announced as one of four finalists for the Athletic Director position at Grand Valley State (the position ultimately went to another person).

Mark Springer was appointed Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in May 2012. Although it has long been rumored that he was applying for positions elsewhere, this April he finally became one of four finalists at Montana State University. After interviewing on April 14, 2016, the selection of the new dean has yet to be announced.

Last year, after only one year on the job, the Associate Provost for Student Success and Dean of the University College Dr. Bruce Busby decided to retire rather than continue working at SCSU. The listing for the University College is listed below.

On top of these duties, the latest reorganization added oversight of the Summer School program and concurrent enrollment programs (S2S) to his list of responsibilities. Overseeing these two programs is almost a full-time job by itself. When added to what amounts to the workload of four or five positions, he must have been thought to be Superman. While given the current financial circumstances it is clear that people will be expected to do more (with less)—this is simply ridiculous! It is not hard to understand why Dr. Busby might have chosen to leave SCSU for retirement back in Ohio. Not only is the weather better, he won’t have to wear as many hats! In fact, he won’t have to wear any hat unless he’s fishing in the Mighty Maumee River. As an interesting side note, two people have now been tasked with the responsibilities that were formally assigned to Dr. Busby.

With all of the ‘reorganization’ that has occurred since President Potter’s arrival in 2007, SCSU must be the best-organized university in the country! Unfortunately, it seems that the pattern for most administrators at SCSU is to come in and reorganize and then leave BEFORE the full effects of their reorganization are known.

From the Provost’s website, the list of deans of the colleges and schools is shown:

Looking at the list, Provost Ashish Valdya is in his first year. Dean David Harris is in his first year. For the Colleges and Schools, there are four interims listed. The majority of the deans and associate deans were interim deans before being appointed to their permanent position. None were in permanent positions prior to 2012. As a result, this administrative team has very little institutional memory since none has been in their position on a permanent basis for more than four years. Additionally, at least one is actively pursuing employment away from SCSU.

One can always choose to look at administrators leaving as an example of those people being the ‘best’ who have lots of opportunities. However, when you see the sheer number of administrators who have left, SCSU must be the “Harvard of the Administrative World.” Unfortunately, with a large number of interims being appointed to permanent positions, it is also likely that it decreases the applicant talent pool because qualified candidates ask themselves if it is worth the effort to apply if the interim is going to be appointed to the permanent position in the first place. Clearly, there are qualified individuals that have been appointed to permanent positions after previously serving as an interim. However, of the permanent deans or associate deans, only David Harris and Adel Ali were not interims in their positions before becoming permanent.

There is an old adage about experience:

The administrators at SCSU don’t seem to have a lot of experience. Hopefully, these inexperienced folks won’t be making too many mistakes for the first or second time. Unfortunately, with a declining enrollment and dire financial situation, SCSU can’t afford too many more mistakes in the first place!

What SCSU Needs: A Beer Major!
by Silence Dogood

According to an MPR article on April 24, 2016, “an Illinois university has a new accredited degree in fermentation science to train future brewers, distillers and vintners.”

According to the article, “We know this is a growth industry and our students will be well prepared to gain employment in this field.” As a result of enrollment declines and the concomitant budget deficits, SCSU’s President Potter is beating the bushes to grow enrollment by creating new programs. With an on-campus FYE enrollment decline from FY2010 through FY2016 of 24.5%, rushing to create new majors to attract students seems a bit like an act of desperation. However, in this case, a ‘beer major’ fits in well with the university’s decision to sell beer at hockey games “to enrich the student experience.” In fact, with the explosive growth in micro-breweries, the potential for a “Husky Brew” to enhance the SCSU brand is obvious. SCSU could be the first MnSCU university with its own brew! Think of all the free publicity you could get for that! After Colorado legalized consumption of pot, applications at the University of Colorado at Boulder increased by 30,000 applicants in the first year. So considering the recent enrollment declines this seems like a natural decision for SCSU.

The MPR article ends with the statement: “a 74,000 square-foot, geo-thermal building called the McLafferty Annex Collaborative Research Facility on the campus’s west side will be home to the program.” Another plus would be that a ‘beer major’ would fit in well with the intended purpose of the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility (ISELF) and in even a cursory walk around the ISELF building it is clear that there is plenty of space available to house it. As a result, SCSU already has available building space for the program saving millions in building costs.

A Beer major would be a natural tie in to Husky Hockey beer sales with the potential for additional revenue coming from eliminating the middleman. All that would be necessary is to simply run a line from the ISELF building to the Brooks Center and voila, Husky Brew on tap! And you can’t say it wouldn’t be popular—I’m sure there would be all kinds of interest!