This morning, I found this tasty tidbit of information about the importance of aviation to the economy:

“This measure is key to advancing the nearly 8 percent of our nation’s economy impacted by the aviation industry,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica, Florida Republican.

Couple that information with the fact that there’s a significant worldwide pilot shortage and it isn’t difficult to see that there’s a need for accredited collegiate aviation programs. Except if you’re Earl Potter. When it comes to President Potter and the soon-to-be-defunct Aviation Department, he’s as blind as a bat.

This article was written in 2009. Even then, people were predicting a pilot shortage. It contains these disturbing projections:

For the first five years after 2012 to 2017 we’ll see retirement rates of 3% per year at my airline, climbing from 4 to 7% in the following five years and, starting in 2022, up to 10% of our pilots will retire every year until 2027.

Precisely at the time when the need for pilots from accredited programs is increasing, President Potter is eliminating the last accredited Aviation program in Minnesota.

That doesn’t fit with Chancellor Rosenstone’s publicly stated goals:

For more than 150 years, our colleges and universities have prepared Minnesota’s workforce; we have supplied skilled employees for new and growing companies; we have graduated entrepreneurs who have started businesses in every town of our state; and we have educated the Minnesotans who knit together the fabric of our communities, from teachers and social workers to police officers and nurses.

That role cannot diminish in the face of current financial challenges.

Quite the contrary, our role as a driver of Minnesota’s economy is more important than ever, and the priorities we set over the next few weeks must enrich the education and lives of our students; must create jobs; and must contribute to the prosperity of businesses and communities across the state.

How is killing a program that’s poised to train pilots, air traffic controllers and airport managers fit with Chancellor Rosenstone’s edict? How can Minnesota eliminate a program that’s likely to create tons of aviators right at the time when airline pilots are retiring at the dramatic rates described above?

Read this statement and tell me there isn’t a need for pilots:

Pilots will have the opportunity to learn more about this burgeoning market and be interviewed for positions currently available. Qualified applicants may receive on-the-spot conditional offers for jobs for the following aircraft: The Boeing 777, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 767, Boeing 737NG and EFIS, Airbus A340, Airbus A330, Airbus A320, Embraer EMB190, and Embraer EMB145.

President Potter is shutting down the Aviation Department at the exact time that there’s a pilot shortage, a mechanics shortage and private companies are buying their own jets to increase their executives’ productivity while travelling.

The thought that Potter’s getting paid $300,000+ to make foolish decisions like this is infuriating. I won’t attempt to tell people that he hasn’t done any good. I’ll just attempt to prove that he’s gotten alot of big decisions badly wrong.

Thanks to his attitude that he only answers to Chancellor Rosenstone, which technically is true, he’s losing respect on campus. If President Potter doesn’t change his attitude soon, he’ll lose all respect.

If that happens, he will have earned it.

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12 Responses to “Potter’s decision looking foolish”

  • Nick says:

    St. Cloud State has the ONLY ACCREDITED AVIATION Program in MINNESOTA. MSU-Mankato is NOT Accredited. Gary, check out, you’ll find a list of accredited aviation programs there, St. Cloud State is one of them that is listed there. In fact, St. Cloud State was one of the FIRST 10 Aviation programs accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International.

  • Gary Gross says:

    If you haven’t followed LFR, I’ve talked extensively about SCSU being accredited & that MSU isn’t.

  • Tim says:

    Nick, University of Minnesota- Crookston has an accredited program (I’m going through it ;).

  • Patrick says:

    Tim and Nick
    The accreditation that Gary refers to is Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) – as you can see on the web site that neither Mankato nor Crookston have this designation. Yes all three schools are accredited regionally via the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association but SCSU is the only one to hold the program designation. This will be crucial as graduates from the AABI schools will most likely qualify for right-seat airline pilot consideration at half the time (800 flight hours) as other candidates (1,500 hours). Also SCSU has an FAA recognized air traffic control program that offers those graduates consideration for employment.

    How do I know this – I taught in the SCSU Aviation program for over 20 years. Today SCSU Aviation graduates are pilots for the regional and major airlines, plus corporate and military pilots, controllers at the busiest airports and managing all levels of airport and airline operations. What Gary has detailed about President Potter’s decision to close a very successful program is accurate in my opinion.

  • Patrick says:

    My post was for Tim, I put your name in there by mistake. You seem to understand the whole AABI program accreditation.

  • Darlene says:

    I have not talked to one person in the St. Cloud community who agrees with Mr. Potter on this issue. The citizens of this town, and even professors I have talked to, who have nothing to do with the aviation department, feel it’s an extremely bad decision and are upset about it, how it impacts St. Cloud, and about Mr. Potter saying he doesn’t owe us (the taxpayers and the community in which SCSU is located) any consideration when making decisions.

    He admitted he made the decision based on “facts” that were incorrect (he had the wrong figure on how many students were enrolled in the program), but he still would not admit he was wrong and change his decision. It takes a man of great character to admit, especially publicly, that he made a bad decision. But he would have gained tremendous respect if had done that. It also requires his superiors to be of high quality to over-ride his bad decisions.

    However, we seem to have a lack of quality people in these positions, for which we are paying with hard-earned tax dollars, and it is once again “government-as-usual” and “government-as-we-have-come-to-expect”, a system where people are paid too much, are not held accountable for their decisions, and the people in authority over Mr. Potter covering up for him…very convenient for all involved, except for the people of whom the government is supposed to be made up…the people, we have to put up with it.

    A sad day for St. Cloud and for America that this kind of situation is allowed to happen!!! I’m disappointed in our legislators for doing nothing about it to this point, and I’m extremely disappointed in Chancellor Rosenstone for not fulfilling his pledge to hold college presidents accountable, once again, politics as usual, lots of promises that SOUND so good, give us hope, and have no substance.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Darlene, I’m the only person who’s covered this story. I’ve been accused of fighting to keep my friend, Jeff Johnson’s, government job, which is supposedly a cardinal sin. President Potter has told people that I’ve gotten my facts mixed up.

    That’s ok. I’ve got a thick hide. I can take it.

    The things I’ve quoted Potter as saying are on video. If he’d like to argue that the videos that show him flipping from one excuse to another as to why he’s decided to eliminated the Aviation Department aren’t what he really said, I wish him the best of luck. He’ll need it.

    It’s past time that he decided which lie he’ll permanently settle on. He’s been exposed as not being trustworthy. More importantly, he’s been exposed as making some terrible decisions, decisions that aren’t worthy of his exalted salary. If he wants that exhorbitant salarry, i’s time he stepped forward & earned it. He hasn’t thus far.

    During my time studying Potter, it’s clear that he’s the master of grand gestures & empty promises. He isn’t a trustworthy public servant anymore because he’s disinterested in the public. That’s why Potter’s gotta go ASAP.

  • pilotguru says:

    TIM PLEASE READ! To the earlier comments: Here are ALL the aviation programs in MN, as of Dec. 2010.

    1. St.Cloud State University (4 year) ACCREDITED
    2. Academy College (2 year) NOT ACCREDITED
    3. Anoke-Technical (Classes Only) NOT ACCREDITED
    4. University of MN – Crookston (4 Year) NOT ACCREDITED (UND Satellite School, accreditation is lost, because of the lack of classes offered at the UMN campus regarding aviation, for ACCREDITED degree go to the MAIN CAMPUS UND).

    5. MN State University – Mankato (4 year) NOT ACCREDITED
    6. Winona State University (??) and NOT ACCREDITED

    we had many other 2 year programs in MN in the past 15 years and one by one they have been getting cut “because of budget reasons, lack of enrollment..” and SCSU is one of them…

    I done 1 year at UMN-Crookston and 5 years at UND, and I will assure you that UMN-Crookston is not accredited, because of the classes not being offered that are required for accreditation, i.e. Crew Resource Management course in a Jet/Turboprop FTD, and the broad range of courses, also enrollment at UMN is an issue with regards to accreditation. I’m summarizing my discussions I’ve had with various faculty from UMN-Crookston. So yes, Tim you CAN go to UND for training i.e. multi-engine, crj sim whatever, but it doesn’t mean the UMN-CROOKSTON program is accredited, that is why it’s called “UND SATELLITE SCHOOL”, but it loses accreditation because it’s a program made for you to transfer to the Main campus, and doesn’t offer the variety of courses.
    I hope this sheds light on this discussion. If you need further clarification, please see WAYNE MODA at the Crookston Airport, director of flight operations for UMN-Crookston.

  • pilotguru says:

    I do apologize I forgot 2 additional aviation schools,

    7. Northland Community & Technical College (2 year)
    8. Lake Superior Community College (2 year)

    If you hear of any more go ahead and post them…

  • Darlene says:

    Thanks, Gary, you’re doing a great job!!! And I know your heart – you do not deserve any criticism from a man like Earl Potter. If I were him, I certainly would not accuse others of having their facts mixed up. Maybe, since he has thrown out this accusation, you and he should have a public debate, one which I would certainly attend, and you can both lay your facts out on the table. I doubt he has the fortitude to face you with his “facts!” I’m sorry that you are the only one who has the courage to take on this issue, but I appreciate your doing so!!!

  • Nick says:

    Pilotguru, Winona State only has a minor in aviation. George Bolon, the guy who ran their program, recently retired. I went there before transferring to St. Cloud State.

  • Jethro says:

    In looking at videos, radio interviews, and newspaper articles, even the casual observer can see that Potter can’t keep his story straight.

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