While reading this article, this paragraph jumped off the page at me:

Foss addressed the issue by saying, “We didn’t directly speak to Mankato. One of the criteria we looked at in all of the programs was uniqueness. We don’t have to have every degree program. If we had programs that were truly unique, even if it was small, that was factored positively into the assessment of that program. If other institutions offered a similar program, we had a little more flexibility in our decision. The fact that Mankato had a program, we took into consideration because both of uniqueness of offering and duplication.”

To the average observer, Ms. Foss’s point seems legitimate. To people who’ve studied aviation accrediting, Ms. Foss’s statement seems like total nonsense. When Ms. Foss suggested that Mankato’s aviation program was similar to SCSU’s aviation program, she either accidentally made a sloppy statement or she was intentionally misleading people.

The similarity between SCSU’s and MSU-Mankato’s programs end with the name of the program. That’s because SCSU’s program is AABI-accredited. AABI stands for “Aviation Accreditation Board International.” This webpage gives a good picture of why AABI accreditation is important:


  • Increases the attractiveness of the program to prospective students and their parents by ensuring that the program meets accepted standards of quality.
  • Ensures employers that graduates possess a broad background in the aviation industry as well as skills needed for aviation specializations.
  • Assures institutions that their aviation programs will periodically perform a comprehensive self-analysis to achieve their objectives.
  • Keeps aviation educators in contact with other faculty, industry advisors, and practicing aviation professionals.

SCSU is one of only 26 universities nationwide who are AABI-certified. That’s a significant differentiation between SCSU and MSU-Mankato. It’s important information because industry experts expect a severe airline pilot shortage over the next 20 years. This statement didn’t make sense to me, either:

Foss said, “This was a decision that was forced upon us because we were facing real financial constraints and we had to make tough choices on what we were going to do and what we weren’t going to do. It required us to make the real, hard decisions about what we were going to do. What the university, with the Strategic Planning Committee, had to do was look at what was in the best interest of the entire institution and the entire student population. When you’re increasingly more tuition-dependent, you increasingly have to look at things like profitability in programs.”

I’d imagine that this was a difficult decision for the SCSU Strategic Planning Commission to make. It isn’t easy to eliminate a program that’s needed, both in the short- and long-term, while keeping the Social Responsibility Masters Degree program. I’d love finding out how many post-graduate students of the program were hired in their area of expertise. I’d love knowing how many students get their Masters, then find themselves overeducated and underemployed.

If the Strategic Planning Commission thinks that’s a wise decision, then I’d argue that it’s time to fire the people on that commission and replace them with people who know what they’re doing. President Potter has lost control of the campus. He’s losing reputation with St. Cloud’s civic and business leaders, too. That’s due, at least in part, to the decisions he’s signed off on. Closing SCSU’s Aviation Department at a time when there’s a predicted 20-year long pilot shortage is foolish.

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One Response to “What aviation duplication?”

  • Patrick Mattson says:

    (Lisa) Foss said that one of the reasons that SCSU did not close the (Nursing) program was because SCSU has a responsibility to serve the public with health care providers, adding, “From a social-contract perspective, what is the state looking for us to provide: qualified healthcare providers. We’ve created a school of Health and Human Services because that area of health and healthcare related fields is exploding. From a strategic alignment perspective, even though Nursing is expensive, it is a social need.”

    Pure bunk Lisa but then you have finally exposed the administration’s true agenda – socialism and liberal thinking! Are you aware that without the aviation system most of what we enjoy today becomes local? Think about it – easily traveling to your next vacation or getting that package you ordered via FedEx would not be possible without aviation. So nice try on that “social-contract perspective”. PS – did you know that before 2000 Nursing was not even taught at SCSU but thanks to a former Dean it now consumes too much of the resources.

    In my opinion, the closure of the Aviation Department was pre-determined PRIOR to any talk of reorganization.

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