The closing of the SCSU Aviation Department has Roger Cohen asking where the pilots will come from for the next major pilot shortage, which is looming on the horizon:

Here’s a partial transcript of a key portion of the MPR article on Aviation:

COHEN: The need now for skilled aviation professionals and young people to get into aviation at any level is greater now than it’s ever been. The opportunity now is greater than it’s ever been.

If “the opportunity [for aviation professionals] is greater than it’s ever been”, isn’t that the right time to expand the Aviation program?

When WCCO-TV did an article about the SCSU Aviation program, they interviewed SCSU President Earl Potter. During the interview, President Potter said that SCSU’s focus would now be on STEM, aka Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

What President Potter didn’t talk about, at least in the portion that aired that Sunday, was that Fedex offered to give one of its cargo planes that it was retiring to SCSU. The plane would’ve been stationed at the St. Cloud Regional Airport and it would’ve been available for STEM projects and studies for college students as well as for field trips from students as young as Kindergarten through to college graduates.

If SCSU genuinely wanted to focus on STEM issues, why did it reject this fantastic gift to the university? Shouldn’t they have accepted it with a smile on their faces?

The reality is that there’s a huge pilot shortage looming on the horizon, a horizon that’s getting very close to becoming reality.

SCSU Provost Malhotra defended the Potter administration’s actions this way:

MALHOTRA: It is not as if we wanted to set out closing Aviation. In fact, when we started out the Strategic Program Appraisal, we did not know that we would be closing Aviation. We knew that we would be closing some programs but which one of those programs would be an outgrowth of a very broad campus-level discussion.

According to Conrad Wilson’s article, shutting down the Aviation Department will save approximately $500,000. That’s roughly the equivalent of what they’re paying EMG for their services. Shouldn’t the Potter administration worry more about not spending big chunks of money on consultants than closing departments?
It seems that they’re only interested in closing programs that actually have great hiring records upon graduation. This part of Wilson’s article is what’s wrong with SCSU thinking:

WILSON: Leaders at St. Cloud State say that the program closure is part of a university restructuring. Devinder Malhotra, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, says St. Cloud State has refocused on creating graduates with a broad base of knowledge, not just ones ready for a specific job.

That’s a rip-off. Those students’ parents aren’t paying tuition so their sons and daughters can get “a broad base of knowledge.” They’re paying for an education that will help their sons and daughters find a high-paying job that offers a promising career path.

Perhaps that’s why enrollment at SCSU dropped precipitously this past year. It isn’t surprising that large percentages of college graduates unable to find jobs are moving home. Why haven’t universities and colleges focused on turning out students that can step into a promising career the minute they graduate?

Employers aren’t looking for employees “with a broad base of knowledge.” They’re looking for people who can positively impact their company the minute that they’re hired.

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10 Responses to “Where will the pilots come from?”

  • Patrick says:

    The administration has about 10 different story lines going and I am amazed that they can say it all with a straight face. You would think they would at least compare notes so they don’t trip each other up. Read over the MPR article’s last sentence – did you know during the 2010-2011 academic year that Dr. Scott Olson was the interim vice chancellor for the MNSCU system? Why is this important – well Dr. Olson’s permanent job at Minnesota State Mankato is provost and vice president for academic and student affairs. Something smells!

  • Jethro says:

    More like a dead body stench if you ask me. No public hearings before closure, Scott Olson who worked at the other aviation program is in a position of influence, wow! Talk about invisible to the public eye. MALHOTRA: “It is not as if we wanted to set out closing aviation.” So why in the video did it say that aviation was targeted before reorganization began? Somebody’s fibbing! MALHOTRA: “We knew that we would be closing some programs but which one of those programs would be an outgrowth of a very broad campus-level discussion.” Gee…what about a COMMUNITY-level discussion?

  • Nick says:

    Do you think WI Gov. Walker should be recalled? How about President Earl Potter and Provost Devinder Maholtra? How about Chancellor Rosenstone?

  • Nick says:

    “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

  • Nick says:

    It’s time for term limits not only for politicians, but also for university presidents, college and/or university system chancellors, and the regular members on the board of trustees excluding student trustees!

  • eric z says:

    Gary, it would be helpful if you had data. How many graduates of that St. Cloud program got jobs in the airline industry, or went on to become military pilots?

    What are the percentages suggesting any success?

    Was it a dilettante gut course major, to then say, “I have an SCSU degree,” without any real scholarly accomplishment but weekend flying for fun, or was it actually successful in having a track record of graduates going on to use in real world situations whatever skills were acquired at SCSU?

    Have you any data?

  • Patrick says:

    The data I have seen is that those who responded to the Career Services and Departmental surveys have found employment in the aviation industry. Do some not seek aviation employment – yes – but that is a small percentage. There is data going back to the early to mid-1980s that suggests a strong employment history in ALL fields of aviation, not just pilots.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Eric, I’ll just let you have a conversation, if you’d like, with Patrick. Patrick is a retired Aviation professor. I’ve known him now almost 2 years & have found his research to be accurate & well-documented.

    In other words, pay attention to him because he’s well-informed & because he can be trusted.

  • Jethro says:

    Eric z. asks a very valid question about the data. In order to be fair, we must also ask the same question about other academic programs as well like the master’s in social responsibility program. Are the graduates getting jobs and if so, who are the empployers? Surely, the career center should also be able to provide this data.

  • mike says:

    SCSU is already running a deficit. The president has indicated there will be no cuts in current programs or staff even though revenue is declining. Only a government type entity can have declining revenue and not make cuts in programs or staff. No business can. I believe cuts need to made somewhere because of the ineptitude of the people operating the school. SCSU spent thousands of dollars coming up with a new mascot. How about a contest asking the 15,000 or so students and staff to come up with a new mascot instead of paying someone else to do it? Why is it necessary to send staff to Hawaii for some conference when the school is running a deficit? Only government or a government run school can do it.

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