One of the things that needs dramatic change is the bureaucracy known as the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, aka MNSCU. The situation that’s most troubling is the fact that there isn’t a system of accountability. Presidents at MNSCU’s tech colleges, community colleges and universities report directly to the chancellor of MNSCU.

That’s 31 public colleges and 54 campuses in 47 cities across the state for a single chancellor to keep track of. The chancellor’s office is in the Twin Cities. With campuses in International Falls, Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Ely, Eveleth and Thief River Falls, it’s impossible to think a single chancellor could keep track of what’s happening at these colleges and universities.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve studied this system. In that time, I’ve seen proof that procedures are ignored. When programs are eliminated, MNSCU procedure 3.36.1 requires that the university document 9 specific things. Here’s what MNSCU Procedure 3.36.1 requires:

The academic program closure application must be documented by information, as applicable, regarding
1.academic program need,
2.student enrollment trends,
3.employment of graduates,
4.the financial circumstances affecting the academic program, system college or university,
5.the plan to accommodate students currently enrolled in the academic program,
6.impact on faculty and support staff,
7.consultation with appropriate constituent groups including students, faculty and community,
8.alternatives considered, and
9.other factors affecting academic program operation.

When St. Cloud State closed the Aviation Program, President Potter didn’t provide MNSCU with the required documentation. When he was called out on this, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Larry Litecky replied “My staff and I remain persuaded that the university conducted required and appropriate consultations and assessments that informed its decisions.”

This isn’t a matter of being persuaded. It’s a matter of whether President Potter and St. Cloud State provided the documentation justifying the closing of the Aviation program at St. Cloud State. Simply put, MNSCU rubberstamped President Potter’s decision despite the absence of the required documentation.

The MNSCU chancellor theoretically reports to the MNSCU Board of Trustees. I say theoretically because the MNSCU Board of Trustees hasn’t rocked the boat or overruled the chancellor in years. In other words, university presidents can do what they want, knowing that the chancellor will rubberstamp their decisions. The chancellor can do this because he’s certain that the MNSCU Board of Trustees will rubberstamp his decisions.

That would make the legislature the last line of defense. Despite repeated pleas to the committees of jurisdiction, aka the Higher Education committees in the House and Senate, they haven’t conducted oversight hearings on these irregularities and abuses. Thus far, they haven’t held a single hearing on whether there’s a system of accountability in place to make sure that the taxpayers’ money is spent properly or whether the students are getting a quality education.

Right now, it’s impossible for an informed person to think that there’s any accountability built into the system. In the private sector, a manager or director who didn’t require that a major decision be fully documented would be terminated. Larry Litecky wasn’t even slapped on the wrist. In the private sector, a person who told one untruthful justification to the corporation’s president, then told a different untruthful justification to that corporation’s Board of Directors, would be terminated.

At this point, nothing remotely approaching this has happened. Frankly, it’s disheartening to think that the House and Senate Higher Education committees might not rock the boat or conduct legitimate oversight into the serial abuses and outright corruption found in MNSCU.

If university presidents a) won’t follow MNSCU procedures and b) will stonewall faculty demands for why transcripts are being dramatically altered without the professors’ signing off on the changes, that’s a system where corruption will flourish. If the chancellor won’t intervene in such matters, then the board should replace the chancellor and demand that a man or woman of integrity be hired to replace the rubberstamp chancellor.

If the chancellor won’t do that, then the legislature should intervene. They should reform MNSCU that insists on a culture of accountability. They should conduct oversight hearings to find out whether MNSCU is spending money wisely (it isn’t) and providing educations that will help students start a great career when they graduate (that isn’t happening either.)

Don’t students and taxpayers deserve better?

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2 Responses to “MNSCU & the legislature: Where’s the accountability?”

  • Linda says:

    Mnscu is corrupt on many levels. HR does not protect employees or students from retaliation acted out on those who speak up. HR is about PR and hushing whistleblowers in this unethical educational system. Pull your students/ give money to learning institutions that actually care about human beings. The rhetoric they use to persuade the masses to be blinded by this corruption is sleek but do not be fooled.

  • Mystique says:

    Linda is correct. Just look at this post. MnSCU is deplorable.

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