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According to this article, Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish will resign soon, with Sen. Schoen resigning Wednesday and Rep. Cornish leaving ” on or before Dec. 1.”

According to the article “House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin say they asked Cornish to resign.” It then added a statement, saying “We asked Representative Tony Cornish to offer his resignation from the Minnesota House of Representatives. Over the last week, it has become increasingly clear his resignation is the most appropriate course of action for him, his constituents, and our institution. As House leaders, we will continue to take concrete steps to combat misconduct at the legislature and ensure a safe and respectful work environment for legislators, staff, lobbyists, and the public.”

Cornish released his own statement, saying “As a proud former peace officer and longtime champion for public safety, I am forced to face the reality that I have made some at the Capitol feel uncomfortable, and disrespected. To those individuals and specifically the unnamed lobbyist , I sincerely apologize for my unwelcome behavior. “I would also like to apologize to God, my family, my constituents, and friends for the mistakes I have made. After having conferred with family members, friends and advisors, it is with deep regret tonight that I am announcing my intention to resign from the Minnesota House of Representatives. I do so after reaching an agreement in principle with the unnamed lobbyist that has been mentioned. The agreement is basically that I offer the enclosed apology, and resign from my office, on or before December, 1st 2017 and that we both provide each other with a mutual release of any claims against each other now and in the future.”

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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