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To: MnSCU Board of Trustees
From: Gary Gross, investigative reporter, conservative activist, taxpayer watchdog
Subject: Oversight responsibilities

Though there’s nothing official in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees list of responsibilities, that doesn’t mean the position comes without responsibilities. In the past, politicians have seen the Board of Trustees as an honorary position or as a holding spot until ‘retired’ politicians run for office again.

University presidents and MnSCU chancellors alike have counted on that wink-and-nod ‘understanding’ to operate without meaningful oversight. That’s how they’ve whitewashed issues, spent money recklessly and caused some great universities to crumble to the brink of disaster.

Silence Dogood wrote here about St. Cloud State’s enrollment decline. In his post, Silence wrote that the FYE enrollment was 14,975. Later, Silence wrote that the numbers for the current school year aren’t finalized yet but that FYE enrollment might drop as low as 12,066, which represents a 19.5% drop in 3 years.

Shouldn’t the Board of Trustees demand that Chancellor Rosenstone investigate this calamity? After all, he, theoretically at least, works for the Board of Trustees. If Chancellor Rosenstone isn’t willing to ask President Potter tough questions and to get the ship righted, then Chancellor Rosenstone should be put on notice that accountability isn’t an option. The Board should make clear that accountability is a requirement.

When was the last time any Trustee visited a MnSCU university campus? Better yet, when was the last time a Trustee unexpectedly visited a MnSCU university and talked with members of that university’s budget advisory committee? When trustees see money being spent recklessly, trustees should demand to look at the contracts that that university signed before spending the money.

Minnesota’s taxpayers can’t afford having a rubberstamp Board of Trustees. Universities have been emboldened by the lack of oversight into their activities. Too often, trustees have rationalized their inaction by saying issues are “a local matter.”

If I hear that rationalization another time, I’ll verbally and publicly embarrass the trustee who tried rationalizing the issue away. Explain how a city council or county commission has jurisdiction over their area’s university. Further, I’d love hearing how holding universities are held accountable by a local board of trustees.

Trustees know that the only people with jurisdiction over MnSCU universities are Board of Trustees, the Higher Education commitees and the MnSCU chancellor. Period.

I’ll just leave you with these questions: If you don’t hold these universities accountable for their actions, who can? If you don’t hold them accountable starting now, when is a better time to hold them accountable?

The time for accountability is now. The vehicle for accountbility is staring at you in the mirror.

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