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Saying that MnSCU’s spin in this article is dizzying is understatement. It’s pathetic, yet frightening simultaneously. Here’s an example:

Three years ago, when Rosenstone was hired, MnSCU was looking for someone to light a fire under the sprawling, tradition-bound system to help it adapt to changing times and tighter budgets, said Thomas Renier, now the board chair. “I heard over and over, we need a transformational leader,” he said. “And we got one.”

When Jim McCormack announced his retirement, the first question that the MnSCU Board of Trustees should’ve asked was whether the system needed a major overhaul. I’m not exclusively talking about the universities, though that’s certainly in order. The trustees should’ve asked whether MnSCU’s central office needed major revamping. The next question that they should’ve asked is whether Steven Rosenstone was qualified for that responsibility. This MnSCU statement suggests he wasn’t. Here’s Rosenstone’s qualifications:

Rosenstone has been vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs at the University of Minnesota since 2007. He came to the university in 1996 to serve as dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Under his leadership, the college revamped the undergraduate experience, created state-of-the-art facilities and forged new partnerships with businesses, communities, cultural and civic organizations. Over the years, Rosenstone led numerous university system-wide initiatives including the national conference on Keeping our Faculties of Color and task forces on scholarships, private fundraising, and long-term financial strategy. Rosenstone was awarded the McKnight Presidential Leadership Chair for his service to the university.

Before coming to the university, he was an assistant, associate, and then full professor of political science at Yale University until 1986 when he became a professor of political science at the University of Michigan and program director in the Center for Political Studies. He is the author of four books and numerous scholarly articles on elections, political participation, and the challenges facing higher education. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In terms of administrative experience, Chancellor Rosenstone’s experience was limited. Let’s compare that with William Sederburg, then the commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education:

Sederburg, who serves as chief executive officer of Utah’s Board of Regents, has been in his current position since 2008; his duties included developing a statewide higher education plan at the request of the board. Previously, he served as president of Utah Valley University from 2003 to 2008; during his tenure, the former two-year community college expanded to become a four-year regional university with 30,000 students. He was president of Ferris State University, which offers both two-year and four-year degrees, from 1994 to 2003; vice president for public policy and director at the Public Opinion Research Institute from 1991 to 1994; Michigan state senator from 1978 to 1991; president of Survey Research Co. from 1974 to 1991; and postdoctoral fellow at Michigan State University from 1973 to 1975. In 1990, he helped found the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, became its inaugural chair and located its headquarters in Minneapolis. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and political science from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a master’s degree in political science and a doctorate in political science and public administration, both from Michigan State University.

In other words, Dr. Sederburg had a lengthy and distinguished history of running major educational institutions. He’d developed a statewide “higher education plan” in Utah. He’d taken Utah Valley University from being a community college to being a 4-year university. Besides that, Dr. Sederburg was a state senator in Michigan and a “vice president for public policy and director at the Public Opinion Research Institute from 1991 to 1994.”

In other words, Dr. Sederburg was exceptionally qualified for the job of running a major institution like MnSCU because he’d run major institutions before. Dr. Rosenstone had never run a major institution like MnSCU.

Then there’s this spin:

In July, word leaked that Rosenstone had quietly hired a consulting firm, McKinsey & Co., to help guide the planning for Charting the Future at a cost of $2 million. When faculty leaders asked for a copy of the company’s bid proposal, almost all the pages were blacked out.

The news was especially alarming, according to Rosenstone’s critics, because the same company had published a 2010 report, “Winning by Degrees,” touting ways to “increase productivity” by replacing full-time faculty with temporary instructors and using centrally designed courses. Bute called it a “pre-canned script,” adding “we just felt like this was being rammed down our throats.”

Rosenstone says that’s untrue, and that McKinsey was hired only to help start the planning process. The final plan, he said, will be designed entirely by teams of faculty, staff, students and administrators.

That last paragraph is insulting. If the final plan is to “be designed entirely by teams of faculty, staff, students and administrators”, why did Chancellor Rosenstone and President Potter intimidate Kari Cooper, the president of the Minnesota State University Student Association, into tears at a steering committee hearing? Why did Chancellor Rosenstone announce last Thursday morning that MnSCU and the IFO would start mediation with “the state Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution” when he knows that MnSCU’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the IFO spells out that all mediation be done by the Bureau of Mediation Services?

Further, why did Rosenstone announce that prior to consulting with the IFO? That sounds like something a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy would do. It doesn’t sound like something that a consensus-builder would do.

I don’t blame the reporter for MnSCU’s spin. She’s just reporting the quotes. I’m blaming MnSCU’s trustees for their spin. Finally, I’m blaming Chancellor Rosenstone for not being transparent and open to other people’s ideas.

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One Response to “MnSCU’s sickening spin”

  • No confidence:EVERYWHERE says:

    With all of the chatter about changing this and that, no confidence votes and 2 million dollar studies what I still find completely and totally insulting was the quiet and covert contract extension with a raise making this boob the highest paid official. Am I the only one out there that thinks this stinks more than the fact he is unqualified, pushy, arrogant (in fact..like Potter who is 4th highest paid) truly a my-way-or-the-highway guy…NOT kind of. These actions should be forwarded to The State Attorney General for a quick review. I believe its criminal. At minimum its criminal for one to have too much power and authority ESPECIALLY when unqualified. I would certainly like to be the one to chart Mr Rosenstone’s course to a grand jury ending in an orange jumpsuit

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