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Darrell Downs’ article is must reading for the House and Senate Higher Ed committees, the MnSCU Board of Trustees, Gov. Dayton, Commissioner Pogemiller and every taxpayer whose son or daughter is attending to thinking about attending a MnSCU university. Here’s the opening of the article:

The icy standoff between campus faculty and the leadership of the Minnesota State College and Universities (MnSCU) needs to end — but let’s first get to the root of the problem.

MnSCU has been leading an experiment to change campuses into quasi-private franchises for years. Producing more degrees more quickly and more cheaply has been its hallmark. Never mind that the quality of the education may suffer when change is put in the hands of political appointees and corporate advisers.

To gild the lily of misguided privatization, MnSCU also pays for multimillion-dollar consultants, such as McKinsey and Co., to manage system planning, regardless of faculty and student objections. And it’s only a matter of time before we learn how much is being spent on consultants to “rebrand” the system.

It’s long past time for MnSCU leadership to step outside of its ivory towers. I’ve followed the higher ed reform beat for the better part of 4 years. I’ve seen documentation that verifies as fact that none of the MnSCU Trustees has ever held a townhall meeting in their congressional district. They certainly haven’t met with faculty members.

It’s foolish to think that an outside consultant is better equipped to suggest improvements and implement changes than are the people within the system. If the people that make up the system aren’t qualified for that initiative, then that’s a management failure to hire high quality administrators.

For the record, I’m positive that some of the universities’ administrators are more than qualified for putting a plan together while working with faculty and listening to students’ concerns. It’s just that Chancellor Rosenstone picked the wrong people for putting the reform package together and implementing that package.

Instead, Chancellor Rosenstone brought an adversarial attitude to the project. That attitude led to him secretly hiring McKinsey’s consultants, which spent $2,000,000 that shouldn’t have been spent. Chancellor Rosenstone decided that Charting the Future was the right initiative without meaningful input. Then he hired expensive consultants to implement his initiative.

Isn’t it a bit ironic that a reform initiative is implemented by doing what past administrators have done for decades? When the CEO of MnSCU puts the ‘reform’ package together, why should I think that he’s on the right path?

Downs is exactly right in highlighting expensive consultant-driven ‘reforms’. Nothing about that process sounds like a process that produces thoughtful, forward-looking reforms. Check back to LFR on Sunday for Part II of this series.

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