Towards the end of Dick Andzenge’s monthly column, Professor Andzenge wrote “My granddaughter is a college-bound senior in one of the area high schools. Since last year, she has received weekly solicitations in the form of email, fliers and postcards from universities and colleges from several universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, other universities in Minnesota, and New York. Some offer her special status consideration and include routine updates of events at the university. I asked her if she and her friends have received such solicitations from St. Cloud State University. She said she has not received anything and does not know of her classmates who did.”

Earlier in Andzenge’s column, he wrote “Regional comprehensive universities, such as St. Cloud State, have the clear purpose of serving university-bound high school graduates from the region in which they are located. High school students enrolling at the university do not commit to staying at the university. In fact, many of them do not. They do not pay regular tuition and therefore cannot be the solution. The expectation of transferred students from two-year colleges is also not a solution.”

This is appalling. St. Cloud State is in the midst of an eight year enrollment decline but they can’t be bothered to send a simple email to prospective college-bound high school seniors pitching their campus as a place to get an education? Why wouldn’t the University have someone tasked with talking with every high school junior or senior within a 75-mile radius of the University? Especially for a university in St. Cloud State’s predicament, isn’t this a display of utter incompetence? If it isn’t, why isn’t it?

There’s no question that President Potter’s death stunned the campus community. Still, shouldn’t the community ask what was being done in the most important functions of the University? It’s fair to say that the primary function of a university is to provide a great learning experience. What grade has the University earned in this respect? One of the worst-kept secrets in town is that some types of businesses won’t even interview a recent SCSU graduate. This isn’t true of all of the University programs. Still, it happens often enough to warrant concern.

Another important responsibility of universities is to make sound financial decisions. On this front, there’s more than sufficient evidence to conclude that SCSU has failed this responsibility. The highest-profile example of financial incompetence is the University’s lease with the Wedum Foundation. That lease has cost SCSU approximately $10,000,000 since it opened. That’s just the checks that the University sent to the Foundation. That isn’t counting the lost dorm revenue.

Another financial boondoggle was paying the City of St. Cloud $240,000 per year for 3 police officers who didn’t police the campus. The original contract was for 3 years. The sad news is that that contract was extended. It’s incomprehensible that a university that’s experiencing enrollment declines and that’s sending $1,000,000 checks each year to a foundation for rooms not getting rented would then spend $250,000 a year for something that the city is responsible for. I wouldn’t agree to that policing arrangement if the University was flush with money, much less when it’s running multi-million dollar annual deficits.

That’s before the one-time expense of rebranding. SCSU spent almost $450,000 on that project. (I still get a kick out of the fact that EMG opaquely said that LFR was responsible for the University’s negative image.) Five years later, it’s apparent that the reason why the University has a negative image is because it isn’t being run properly from a financial standpoint.

That’s before the $50,000 Great Place to Work Institute boondoggle.

As of this morning, the University is paying a professor not to teach. Instead, he’s being paid to do union work and be a political activist in the community. That’s been going on at least 3 years at $70,000/yr.

As for the community and the politicians, they’ve been invisible for the most part. Zach Dorholt was the vice-chair of the House Higher Ed Committee. He did nothing. This year’s DFL candidate, Dan Wolgamott, has talked a big game about “bringing people together.” Thus far, he hasn’t said anything about the crisis. As a real estate agent, he’s seen the drain of wealth from St. Cloud. Why hasn’t he done anything to turn SCSU around?

For that matter, why hasn’t the business community stepped forward and insisted that the University become relevant again? It isn’t like their workforce needs are being met. It isn’t like businesses are racing to buy land to build ‘value-added’ companies. When was the last time that St. Cloud built a new factory?

I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it here. SCSU needs a turnaround artist with leadership skills. They haven’t had that in years. That shortcoming needs to stop ASAP.

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