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This Our View editorial includes some valid points but misses the big picture. This paragraph misses the big picture:

MnSCU, ultimately, needs to get its act together. Its connection with the schools that compose the system will always be a challenge, simply because of the way the system is designed — the argument that the schools don’t need a central office, or at least one not nearly as bloated as it is now, will always be relevant. But the degree to which those connections are now fractured is inexcusable.

The MnSCU Central Office is the central question in reforming that dysfunctional organization. If that condition isn’t fixed, other initiatives will be essentially irrelevant. In talking with SCSU employees throughout the years, it’s clear that MnSCU isn’t liked by anyone across the political spectrum. When asked what important function the Central Office performs, I haven’t heard any professor attempt to offer a justification for MnSCU’s existence.

That’s telling.

This will sound harsh but it’s accurate. MnSCU’s Central Office spends millions of dollars on itself, including significant amounts on lobbying the legislature. That’s why it’s headquartered only a couple miles from the Capitol.

The dispute is over MnSCU’s Charting the Future plan, the internally vaunted plan that almost immediately fell apart when it left the laboratory. MnSCU put together all kinds of committees and paid a lot of money to work on the long-term strategic plan for the statewide system, all of which came under fire this fall when numerous faculty associations and student senates publicly fought the plan while calling for the end of MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone’s tenure.

First, “internally vaunted plan” is spin for saying MnSCU, MHTA and McKinsey & Co are hyping the hell out of this initiative. CtF isn’t a spectacular “long-term strategic plan” that Chancellor Rosenstone has spent millions of dollars on. It’s Rosenstone’s desperate attempt to appear relevant:

The biggest concern, among many, was that the plan would erode the kind of autonomy state technical schools and universities such as Winona State University and Southeast Technical College have used to effectively and nimbly serve their unique communities, not to mention ignore or erase the kinds of great partnerships schools in the same areas have already forged.

WSU and Southeast Tech, for instance, have collaborated to streamline back-end operations and ensure they’re responding to the changing needs of the business community.

If Winona State, aka WSU, and Southeast Technical College “have collaborated to streamline back-end operations”, shouldn’t taxpayers, Gov. Dayton and the legislature demand that from all technical and community colleges and universities? If these institutes can put something together, shouldn’t we eliminate MnSCU’s Central Office and tell these community colleges and universities to put together these partnerships?

It’s apparent that individual universities and colleges are capable of working collaboratively. Shouldn’t that become the blueprint for reform?

The Winona Daily News couldn’t be further from the truth than with this:

Sounds like all these folks need a mediator to provide a bit of oversight, right? How about a champion of higher education, somebody who had the foresight, experience and connections to effectively freeze tuition at all state schools the past two years, somebody who has worked hard to ensure state higher-ed money is spent on student success, not administrative salaries, somebody who dared call foul when MnSCU’s entire argument for extra funding two years ago consisted of a brief PowerPoint presentation that looked like it was created on deadline by an uninspired high-school student.

So here’s our nomination — and we know how much Rosenstone will like it — Rep. Gene Pelowski.

Rep. Pelowski was chairman of the House Higher Education Committee for 2 years. During that time, I contacted Rep. Pelowski with specific information about where MnSCU universities were ripping off taxpayers. Frequently, I called for oversight hearings. Those oversight hearings didn’t happen. During the 2014 session, for example, then-Chairman Pelowski held 4 meetings of the House Higher Education Committee. One meeting was to hear MnSCU’s bonding requests. Another meeting was to hear the U of M’s bonding requests. A third hearing was a procedural hearing. The fourth meeting was to approve a supplemental funding bill for MnSCU.

Rumor has it that Rep. Pelowski isn’t a fan of MnSCU. Unfortunately, there’s no proof of that. What’s worse is that there’s ample proof that Rep. Pelowski is willing to pull his punches. Apparently, he isn’t the tiger he professes to be when political allies pressure him.

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