MinnState Reimagining Higher Ed Initiative

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Across the 2018-2019 academic year, the MinnState Board of Trustees hosted six forums designed to address the future in higher education. The IFO decided that the best way to ensure faculty voices were heard was to hold faculty discussions at all seven universities and develop an IFO report for presentation to the Chancellor and Board of Trustees in late spring, 2019. The report reflected the innovative work of faculty already underway, identified big projects requiring system-wide effort, presented non-negotiable conditions essential for sustaining the academy (e.g., academic freedom, tenure), criticized the efforts to frame higher education as a private good, and called for the recognition of the transformational education offer through our state universities as a significant contribution to the broader public good.

There is strong evidence that the IFO efforts on Reimagining had a significant impact. We saw speakers added to the Board of Trustee forums that increased the focus on higher education and lessened the emphasis on jobs-training. The IFO was invited to present their report at the May 2019 Board of Trustees meeting, and the Trustees expressed appreciation for the clarity offered. In June 2019, the Chancellor offered his plan based on the forums, responses, and Board of Trustees discussion. He chose a single goal, and it was the first big project identified in the IFO report: closing equity gaps in student achievement. This effort will soon be announced using a term coined by IFO Equity Coordinator, Kim Park Nelson, Equity 2030.

Faculty throughout the system are dedicated to the success of all students. We see a great opportunity for faculty to explore the multiplicity of ways they and their campuses can work to close equity gaps. The IFO encourages faculty and the committees on which they serve to put forward ideas, lead projects, and partner with others on our campuses to achieve equity by 2030.

If you have additional feedback or questions please contact me at omdahl@ifo.org.