Monday, February 28, 2011

Alumni Association Update: February 2011

Living with Student Debt Event, March 3rd
Join us on Thursday, March 3rd, 5:30pm-8:00pm at the MSUSA Office to videotape your story, speak with a financial advisor, fill out the survey, write letters to the editor, network with other alumni, and eat free food! The Living with Student Debt campaign has been spreading awareness about the impact student debt is having on college graduates and the economy. We want to create a series of video testimonials with MnSCU alumni to ask more in depth questions and make the stories personal. Click here to see WSU graduate Josh Martin's living with student debt video testimonial.

Living with Student Debt Survey Results

Forty-two Living with Student Debt surveys have been completed. The results show us that the average respondent debt at graduation was $33,119 and will take 15 years to pay off. Click here to see the rest of the results and media coverage. Click here to fill out the survey.

Alumni Lobby Day, March 21st
Join us on Monday, March 21st, 9:30am-12:00pm to speak with legislators about the importance of funding higher education. Contact Kari Winter if you are interested.

Mentorship Program Success and Available Positions
Seven mentor positions are still available. Apply today!

"I went into the mentorship with the hope that I would have a better chance of being accepted to a graduate program. The experience served a greater purpose; not only was I introduced to programs I hadn’t considered, but I was able to ask questions of a professional training in the field that I want to work. Because of my mentor’s help, I am starting graduate coursework at St. Thomas this fall and hope to become a mentor as well." - Justin Hiniker, WSU Graduate, Mentee

"Getting to know someone else interested in my field and providing him with resources to explore it was very rewarding. I remember my graduate school and job/internship search process in student affairs, and it can prove a daunting task. It has been great to see him progress toward his goal. While I did not set out to "sell" him on my graduate program, I am proud that we will both call ourselves Leadership in Student Affairs alumni. I look forward to continued contact as Justin progresses through his graduate work, and the possibility of working with him on a professional level in the future." - Berne Christiansen, BSU Graduate, Mentor

Alumni Association Annual Meeting to be held Saturday, April 9, 2011
The 3rd Annual Alumni Association meeting will be at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th at the Country Inn & Suites in Woodbury in conjunction with the student delegates conference in the Twin Cities. All alumni are invited and encouraged to attend. At the meeting we will hold elections, discuss future association goals, and discuss how alumni can become more involved.
Please watch for more information on how to run for the Board in the coming weeks.

Alumni Spotlight - Leigh Wilson-Mattson
Click here to read the Alumni Spotlight featuring Leigh Wilson-Mattson. Leigh is a former Board member, 2009 graduate of MSU Moorhead, and currently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia.

Penny Program Board Announces Openings
The Penny Program Board is accepting applications until Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 for the following positions: 1 MnSCU System Office Representative, 1 Higher Education Professional, 1 Higher Education Professional - IFO Representative, 3 Community Professionals, 1 MSCSA Student. Click here to download the applications.

Alumni Attend Networking Social & Alumni vs. Student Lobbying Challenge
Thank you to the alumni who attended our February 4th social and lobbying game with the students. Unfortunately, the alumni were defeated during the game while the St. Cloud State University student team came out victorious. Check out the attached photo of the alumni at the event.

Alumni Speak at Strategic Plan Celebration
Follow these links to see videos of Paul Hetland and Jennifer Weil speaking at the February 5th Strategic Plan Celebration Luncheon during the Delegates Conference.

Rally Day 2011
Over 400 students from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities attended our Rally Day at the capitol on Wednesday, February 16 to indicate that student tuition is overpriced (STOP). For those who weren’t there, the Rally took place on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol. Fired up students demonstrated their collective power by shouting their concerns. New coverage from the Rally can be found here. Check out our Facebook page for photos from the event. After the Rally, state chair Andrew Spaeth testified on a bill that would freeze tuition over the next two years. Video of his testimony can be found here.

Sexual Violence Survey Results
In early 2010 several state university students believed that complaints of sexual violence were not being handled properly on their campuses. Since then MSUSA has researched and prepared recommendations for how to improve the MnSCU policy and procedures related to sexual violence. We spoke with campus staff, surveyed 800 students, and submitted our concerns and recommendations to the Office of the Chancellor to consider as the policy is reviewed. Click here to see the survey results and concerns.

Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25th Legislative Update

Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, chair of the House Capital Investment committee and author of Gov. Dayton's bonding proposal, held a hearing to discuss Dayton's $1 billion bonding bill, which includes $127.6 million in projects and HEAPR for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Rep. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada, questioned Howes about the future of proposed capital projects. Howes said if the bills are referred to his committee, they would get a hearing. After much testimony and discussion, the bill was laid over for further consideration.

In the Senate, Higher Education committee members confirmed Dr. Sheila Wright, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, by a unanimous voice vote. The confirmation now moves to the full calendar to be taken up on the Senate floor. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities new Board of Trustees members will receive a confirmation hearing Monday, Feb. 28.

Committee members also heard more about Gov. Dayton's budget plan for higher education. Director Wright said the governor's budget recognizes the core services to students and the higher education institutions, and called it a "student centered budget." Wright also said that holding cuts to higher education at a minimum is about an investment in Minnesota's long-term viability. As a reminder, the governor's budget reduces the system 6 percent, which brings the base down to $592.6 million for each year of the biennium.

House Higher Education committee members heard from folks with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities about the system's budget and the impact of further cuts. CFO at Central Lakes College Kari Christiansen said they have had an extensive consultation process on campus planning for $1.2 million to $2.4 million in cuts. She said they are looking at a variety of ways to solve the reduction, including layoffs, program suspensions, operating budget reductions and some type of tuition increase.

Chancellor Jim McCormick and CFO and Vice Chancellor of Finance Laura King, said if the system took a 15 percent reduction, a cut of that magnitude would have an enormous impact. If solved with just reductions to staff, McCormick said it would mean almost 1,000 full-time staff people. If solved with just faculty reductions, McCormick said it would mean 880 faculty, which means the reduction of 9,200 course sections; a reduction of 166,500 credit registrations; and a decrease in enrollment of more than 16,100 students. McCormick said if a 15 percent reduction to the system was solved with just tuition, it would mean an increase of 12 percent. They emphasized that a 15 percent reduction is the equivalent of closing two large universities, five of the largest colleges, or closing at least 10 of the smallest colleges in the system. Both Chancellor McCormick and Vice Chancellor King said obviously none of these solutions alone would be acceptable, but it gives committee members an idea of the impact a 15 percent reduction would have to the system.

On Wednesday, the House State Government Finance Division heard HF384. This bill repeals the 2012 sunset date for the Higher Ed Veterans Program. Joe Butler, a veteran and student at MSU Moorhead testified in favor of the bill as did two MSCSA students. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the State Governement Finance Omnibus bill. Gov. Dayton recommended funding this program at $945,000 a year, the amount requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Monday, the House State Government Finance Committee is hearing HF89, one of the voter ID bills. On Wednesday, MSUSA and MSCSA will testify in front of the Senate Higher Ed Committee to introduce ourselves and give the committee some important facts about higher ed in MN.

Urgent Legislative Action Alert: Save the Pell Grant from Cuts!


Legislative Action Alert: Tell You Congress Members the Pell Grant Reductions Proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives are Not Acceptable

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 235 to 189 on Feb 19, 2011 to approve a continuing resolution (H.R. 1) that would cut the maximum 2011-2012 Pell Grant award by $845 (15%). This would mean a reduction in awards for some, and loss of Pell eligibility for many others.

149,000 students received a Pell Grant in 2010. This $845 reduction would result in at least $113 million in Pell Grant funding losses each year.

In addition, because the formula used to determine the Minnesota State Grant awards is tied to the amount you receive in Pell Grant awards, there would be an additional shortfall in the state grant program to the tune of $55 million a year. This could lead to a reduction in the amount state grants given out each year. Further increasing the burden on low-income students and their families.

The U.S. Congress and the President must pass an appropriations bill or continuing resolution by no later than March 4, 2011 or face a federal government shutdown. Contact your congress members today and let them know you oppose an $845 cut to the Pell Grant before its too late.

You can find your legislators contact information below:

Rep. Tim Walz (Mankato State, Winona State)
Mankato Office             507-388-2149 
Rochester Office             507-206-0643 
Email: Click here

Rep. John Kline (South Metro)
Toll-Free: (888) 808-6644
E-mail: Click here

Rep. Erik Paulsen (West Metro)
Phone: (952) 405-8510
Email: Click here

Rep. Betty McCollum (Metro State, Saint Paul and surrounding suburbs)
St. Paul Office: (651) 224-9191
Email: Click here

Rep. Keith Ellison (Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs)
Minneapolis Office: 612-522-1212
Email: Click here

Rep. Michele Bachmann (St. Cloud State, Woodbury, Anoka County)
St. Cloud Office: 320-253-5931
Email: Click here


Rep. Collin Peterson (Southwest State, MSU Moorhead, Bemidji State)
Detroit Lakes: (218) 847-5056
Marshall: (507) 537-2299
Red Lake Falls: (218) 253-4356

Email: Click here

Rep. Chip Cravaack (Hibbing, Duluth, Chisago)
North Branch Office: (651) 237-8220 or 1-888-563-7390
Email: Click here

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Metro Office
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043
Email: Click here

Sen. Al Franken
St. Paul Office: 651) 221-1016
Email: Click here


           

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MSUSA Update February 2011


  
Rally Day 2011

Over 400 students from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities attended our Rally Day at the capitol on Wednesday, February 16 to indicate that student tuition is overpriced (STOP). For those who weren’t there, the Rally took place on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol. Fired up students demonstrated their collective power by shouting their concerns. New coverage from the Rally can be found here. Check out our Facebook page for photos from the event.  After the Rally, state chair Andrew Spaeth testified on a bill that would freeze tuition over the next two years. Video of his testimony can be found here.

February Delegates Assembly and Board Meeting


This year’s MSUSA winter delegates assembly and board meeting took place the weekend of February 4th-6th and was focused on legislative message training, celebrating the one year anniversary of the release of the strategic plan, and discussion of pressing issues facing our students and higher education. It may have been the first time in MSUSA’s forty-four year history the delegates adjourned in less than a full hour. More in-depth information on the weekends activities can be found here.

Living with Student Debt Campaign

The Minnesota State University Student Association Alumni recently conducted a survey collecting stories form past graduates on how student loan debt has affected their lives. A summary of the results can be found here.  Any alumni who would like to contribute their story can fill out the survey at www.msusa.org/debtsurvey.


Living with Student Debt Event, Thursday, March 3rd


The Living with Student Debt campaign has been spreading awareness about the impact student debt is having on college graduates and the economy.  Alumni should join us on Thursday, March 3rd, 5:30pm-8:00pm at the MSUSA Office to record your story, fill out the survey, network with other alumni, speak with a financial advisor, and eat free food!  These stories really can make a difference when they're shared with legislators and the public!

Penny Scholarship Due Date March 15

The Timothy J. Penny State & Federal Public Service Fellowship is a need and merit based program named in honor of former Congressman Timothy J. Penny.  This program encourages students to serve the public by financially supporting their involvement in public service internships.  Students can receive $5,000 to intern in Washington D.C. and $2,500 to intern in Minnesota.

The Barbara J. Penny Community Service Scholarship is a program named in memory of Barbara Penny. This program awards $1,500 to students for their lifelong community service commitments. Click here for more information.



Jared P. Stene Leadership Scholarship Due Date April 1

This $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to students who share Jared's leadership and passion for student advocacy.  The financial support will assist students in continuing to lead others at a time when tuition continues to rise. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MnSCU Sexual Violence Policy Survey Results & Next Steps

It was brought to our attention in early 2010 that several state university students believed that complaints of sexual violence were not being handled properly on their campuses. We were also informed in the fall of 2010 that the policy and procedure related to sexual violence would be reviewed during this academic year. Since then we have researched and prepared recommendations for how to improve the policy and procedures related to sexual violence (MnSCU Board Policy 1B.3 and Procedure 1B.3.1).

Process for Collecting Information:
We have spoken with staff and administration at Southwest Minnesota State University, St. Cloud State University, Winona State University, and Minnesota State University Moorhead about the policy. We asked questions regarding the process, training, timeline, and reporting.

We also created an online survey, which was completed anonymously by 803 state university students in October and November 2010. They were asked to answer questions about how sexual violence is handled on their campus, reporting, training, timelines, and the definition of sexual violence.

Positive things happening on campuses:
• 75% of survey respondents would feel comfortable and encouraged to report sexual violence on their campus.
• A majority of survey respondents felt their campus handled reports of sexual violence well.
• 59% of respondents have seen information on campus about the importance of reporting sexual violence.

Concerns:
Concern: 88% of survey respondents said they did not know how many reports of sexual violence there were on their campus. Students may have a false sense of security if they are unaware of the number of sexual violence reports. Also, victims may be more likely to report violence if they know others have reported it as well.

Concern: Students often wait many months until a ruling is made from their report of sexual violence. Students may have an unrealistic expectation and/or a lack of information regarding how long the process should take, which leads them to become discouraged. 57% of survey respondents thought it should take one week from the time a report is made to determine the ruling.

Concern: Decision-makers in campus sexual violence cases are often not trained on what to be aware of during these cases. This could lead to asking the wrong questions, looking for incorrect information, not being sensitive to the issue, or even not adhering to the policy definition of sexual violence.

Concern: Faculty, staff, and administrators are often the first people to hear about sexual violence, but they are not required to attend a training to handle these situations.

Concern: Students often do not know what to do if a friend tells them they were sexually violated.

Concern: From the survey results, we found that students felt as if Residence Hall Assistants, Counseling Centers, and Campus Security only had standard training. These are often the first people to hear of sexual violence and can greatly influence how the victims feel, whether a report is made, and what the outcome is.

Concern: Campuses may be inadvertently violating the Clery Act.

Concern: The student is put into an extremely uncomfortable situation during the reporting process. The student may have to face the perpetrator or explain the situation to their faculty member serving on the decision-making Board.

Concern: There is a misunderstanding of the sexual violence definition and scope.


Based on these concerns we've sent our recommendations to the Office of the Chancellor for consideration. We'll continue to stay involved in the policy review process as it moves forward. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey!

As always, please contact us if you have any concerns on your campus.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Legislative Update: A Busy Week for MSUSA at the Capitol

College and university students Rallied at the Capitol on Wednesday in an effort to educate lawmakers about student issues, including tuition. For more details please see the post here.

SF268, a bill that would freeze tuition for the 2012-2013 biennium was heard in the Senate Higher Education committee on Wednesday as well, and students and faculty spoke to the bill. Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidji, explained his bill and said the state cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of students. Carlson explained that SF 268 addresses the short-term impact of tuition increases and provides guidance for Minnesota families. To watch the hearing in its entirety please click here.

Minnesota State University Student Association Chair Andrew Spaeth told committee members that in 1980, the state funded 80 percent of higher education costs, today that number is more in the area of 50 percent. Spaeth said he's concerned with the debt load of students and said the average student is graduating with $26,000 in debt.

Also testifying was Travis Johnson, President of the Minnesota State College Student Association, or MSCSA. Johnson said he is concerned about the pattern of rapidly increasing tuition rates. Geoff Dittberner, Vice President of MSCSA said he believes the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees is sincere in their desire to keep tuition low. He said in 2003 when the system's budget was reduced by $191 million, the cut was made up in tuition increases which still have a negative consequence on students today. Dittberner said students are willing to be part of the solution, but not the entire solution. He said while they cannot fully support a tuition freeze as the bill proposes, they would like to work with the committee to impose a tuition cap.

Russ Stanton with the Inter Faculty Association (the 4-year university faculty), also spoke to the tuition freeze bill and said the IFO has always been an advocate of low tuition and affordable higher education, but state funding has not kept up with enrollment growth or inflation. He said the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is highly efficient and the cost of delivering instruction is among the lowest in the nation. Stanton said faculty are doing their share with a negotiated salary freeze for two years during the last contract negotiations. He said the IFO opposes setting tuition rates in the political arena, but would rather leave the Board of Trustees with the flexibility to make tuition decisions.

The bill was laid over for possible consideration in the omnibus bill. There is no companion bill in the House.

The biggest news around the Capitol this week was on Tuesday when Gov. Dayton released his budget plan that resolves the $6.2 billion budget. Dayton's reductions include a 6 percent cut to both the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the University of Minnesota. A 6 percent reduction to the MnSCU system equates to $37.8 million a year, which reduces the system's base budget to $592.6 million for each year of the biennium. Governor Dayton's budget also protects the funding of the State Grant Program.

House Higher Education committee members heard about the governor's budget plan for higher education yesterday. Sheila Wright, the director of the Office of Higher Education told members that the core missions of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the University of Minnesota must be protected. When asked what the governor's budget would look like if his plan didn't include any new revenue, Wright said the academic core would be breached, but said she was unable to provide specifics at this time.

Mark Misukanis with the Office of Higher Education explained that the governor did not reduce the state grant program because projections indicate a need to ration grants to serve the increasing numbers of students. The state work study program however is being reduced 33 percent, which means approximately 3,500 fewer students will be employed on state work study funds.

Also, on Monday the Veterans Affairs division heard HF384 that would repeal the 2012 sunset (cancellation date) of the Student Veterans Centers on campuses all across the state. The program is set to end at the end of this current fiscal year (June 30, 2011). The bill had strong support in the committee and there were ten testifiers in favor the bill. MSUSA Chair Andrew Spaeth spoke briefly about how important the bill is to all students, and that they veterans student population has the full support of all MSUSA students. There were also veterans from Bemidji State and MSU Moorhead to testify in favor of the bill. We look forward to continue our full support of this bill and this program in the months ahead.

The bill was passed out of Committee and sent to the State Government Finance Committee.

Next week MSUSA will be testifying in front of the Senate Higher Education Committee to give them an overview of who we are and what things we have been working on over the past year.

As always, please contact me at govrelations@MSUSA.org with any questions or concerns.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rally Day 2011: Boom! That Just Happened






Public College and University students from across the state actually showed up for Rally Day 2011 yesterday! It turns out they’re not apathetic after all! Take that lawmakers!

Over 400 students attended the Rally, an impressive number (thus eliminating the need to bring in the student mannequins the MSUSA staff had on hand). For those who weren’t there, the Rally took place on the steps of the glorious Minnesota Capitol. Fired up students demonstrated their collective power by shouting their concerns directly at lawmakers. Their cries for fair tuition reverberated off the Capitol face and sent shock waves through the hearts and minds of all within earshot. A few brave lawmakers mustered up the courage to face the ravenous mob. In an act of mercy, or possibly just by sheer luck, all made it through their speeches unscathed.

The momentum carried into the afternoon as students packed Capitol room 123 for a hearing on Sen. John Carlson’s bill to freeze tuition. MSUSA State Chair Andrew Spaeth courageously testified on the bill, laying an intellectual smackdown on the Senate Higher Education committee in the process.

Although Rally Day 2011 was an unequivocal success, the work most certainly does not stop here. Students from every MSUSA campus must continue to advocate for their interests. The first step is to set up lobbying meetings to share your concerns directly with lawmakers. Please contact me, the Director of Campus Organizing (msmriga@msusa.org) or Jon Bohn, the Director of Government Relations (govrelations@msusa.org), to set up a lobby trip.

Rally Day was designed to get lawmakers attention. Now that we’ve got their attention, what are we going to do with it?

Check out some of the tears-of-joy-inducing media coverage MSUSA received in the wake of Rally Day 2011!

VIDEO: Tuition Freeze/Cap Bill Senate Hearing

I encourage all of you to watch this hearing on SF268. This bill would freeze tuition for the next two years and then create a cap at consumer price index (CPI or commonly referred to as inflation) for the following years.

MSUSA Chair Andrew Spaeth gives incredible testimony and really lays out the facts in a clear and concise manner. After his testimony he is asked numerous questions and does a great job reminding the committee why higher education funding needs to be a priority.

Other tesifiers include Travis Johnson and Geoff Dittberner from MSCSA, UofM students and faculty and Russ Stanton from the Inter-Faculty Organization which represents the faculty at MN State Universities.

If you have any questions about this bill please email Jon at govrelations@msusa.org

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February Delegates Assembly Recap (Feb 4-6, 2011)



This year’s MSUSA winter delegates assembly was focused on legislative message training, celebrating the one year anniversary of the release of the strategic plan, and discussion of pressing issues facing our students and higher education. It may have been the first time in MSUSA’s forty-four year history the delegates adjourned in less than a full hour. In all of the MSUSA conferences I have witnessed this is one of the most engaged, excited, and generally happy group of state university students in our system. Credit is due to all of the delegates that showed up ready to work in high spirits! 

The legislative message training on Friday evening was an excellent way to kick off the weekend. Students had a chance to respond to potential questions they may be asked during a legislative meeting. Alumni were in attendance as well. They answered the questions, helped out, and one even played a legislator in the final meeting with the Saint Cloud delegation. Great work MSUSA alumni and students! Friday night was also an opportunity for everyone to meet our new Director of Government Relations, Jonathan Bohn. After only three days on the job, Jon was put on the spot and helped our students respond to some of the more challenging questions.  Our collective voice is our most valuable asset. It is great to see everyone getting behind the cause— the timing couldn’t be better. It is looking to be a tough budget year at the state capitol.

The delegates’ assembly and board meeting, while relatively short, were both quite productive. The delegates’ passed a federal legislative agenda for the year. In addition, stances were taken on the state level to oppose recent legislation that would require students to provide photo identification. The student’s also voted to oppose any decrease in the Minnesota Renter’s Tax Credit. For more information on this and other legislative news be sure to check our weekly legislative updates which can be found on our blog at http://msusa1967.blogspot.com/. Meanwhile, the board of directors discussed next year’s proposed conference schedule, took action necessary to move forward with the contact management system, received presentation on the organizations investments, and discussed other important topics.    
        
On a related note, nominations were opened for next year’s officers. Positions up for election at the April conference include: state chair, vice chair, and treasurer. Nominations are open until March 9th. Interested parties should send a resume, letter of intent (including reasons for applying and any goals for the position), proof of good academic standing, picture (optional), letter of recommendation (optional), to MSUSA office manager, Kasey Gerkovich at kgerkovich@msusa.org.

This February marks the one-year anniversary of the release of the MSUSA strategic plan. This document isn’t just sitting on the shelf. It has kept at the forefront as we develop next years budget and continue to move forward as an organization. A debt of gratitude is due to Rob Etten and his company Insight Solutions for all of his great work and help in developing the plan. Rob was in attendance on Saturday morning, meeting with the board of directors and helping to guide our organization towards continued success. Also in attendance at the celebration was Jennifer Weil, last years state chair who played a critical role in developing the strategic plan.  In addition, Paul Hetland, former state chair and board member spoke to the students about the history of the organization. The celebration was a great way to spend lunch on Saturday and helped solidify how important the guidance provided in the strategic plan really is.
           
Overall, the February delegate’s conference will be looked at as a highlight of the year. The feedback from delegates and staff was overwhelming positive. Big thanks to everyone that participated!

Andrew Spaeth
MSUSA State Chair

Friday, February 11, 2011

February 11 Legislative Update

MSUSA Legislative Update

February 11, 2011

The 2011 Legislative session is full of new faces and new ideas. The state has a new DFL Governor and the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate. This is the first Republican majority in the Senate since party designation began in 1972. There are 61 new elected officials in the Capitol halls this year. That’s 30% of the 201 legislators that represent our state.

The budget process began very quickly as the legislature passed HF130 that would cut roughly $900 million dollars in a few specific areas. These cuts were the same cuts that Governor Pawlenty proposed for the 2009-2010 budget. The bill passed would make those cuts permanent moving forward and cut an additional $100 million out of the 2009-2010 budget. The good news out of the additional $100 million cut was that the Higher Ed Grant Program and MNSCU were saved from additional cuts.

HF130 included $50 million in cuts to MNSCU for fiscal year 2012 and 2013 totaling $100 million

Another important part of HF130 was a reduction in the Rental Tax Credit that all renters receive at the end of the year in their state tax returns. Currently, the rate is set at 19%. This is to offset money that renters pay for property taxes similar to the credit that homeowners get for the interest they pay on their mortgages. HF130 reduces the rate from 19% to 15%. This means, if you’re paying $400 a month in rent and you live in an apartment for 12 months you would currently receive a refund of $912. However, if this becomes law you will only receive $720. That is a decrease of $192. MSUSA Board of Directors has taken a stance to oppose the reduction in the Rental Tax Credit.

Governor Dayton vetoed HF130 later the same day it was passed by the legislature.

Governor Dayton is scheduled to release his budget on Tuesday, February 15th. This will be the beginning point for budget negotiations. Your MSUSA Director of Government Relations is meeting with the Governor’s office on Monday, February 14th and will get some perspective on what the impact of Governor Dayton’s proposal to Higher Education will be.

The Governor also gave his State of the State Address on Wednesday, February 9th. In it he commended Chancellor McCormick for his work with MNSCU and gave some remarks about the importance of higher education. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

"Tuition in our state's two-year public colleges has risen to the third-highest in the nation; tuitions in our four-year universities are among the top-ten highest."

Sen. Carlson, the new Senator from Bemidji, introduced SF268 that imposes a tuition freeze for MNSCU for 2011 and 2012 and then imposes a tuition cap at the rate of inflation (consumer price index). MSUSA is dedicated to fight any drastic tuition increase and is working with Sen. Carlson to ensure that tuition does not continue to increase at unsustainable levels. This bill is being heard in the Senate Higher Education Committee on Feb. 16th and changes are likely to be made throughout the process. We appreciate Sen. Carlson stepping forward and starting the discussion on the drastic rise in tuition and the need for discussions about how to stop the drastic increases.

There are two “Voter ID” proposals at the legislature and both passed the house Government Operations Committee this week. Both bills repeal the vouching method of voter identification and make it harder for students to vote. It places new burdens on students as well as many others and MSUSA staff member Matt Smriga testified against the bills during their hearings. These bills will continue to flow through the committee process and there will be more updates to come. Governor Dayton has voiced concerns with the current proposals.

The House Veterans Services Division will hear Rep. Dettmer’s HF384 that repeals the sunset date of 2012 for the veterans service centers on MNSCU campuses. This is something that MSUSA supports and will also work to maintain the $1 million necessary to run this important program. MSUSA plans to testify in support of repealing the sunset date.

Session is moving quickly and I will work to keep you all updated as the process moves along.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Students don't care?!! Prove 'em wrong!

Get your bullhorns and picket signs ready because Rally Day 2011 is one week away! For those new to the process, Rally Day is a massive gathering of MSUSA and MSCSA students at the Minnesota state Capitol on Wednesday, February 16th. The convergence is an attempt to increase awareness of issues pertinent to higher education and put pressure on lawmakers to consider our interests. This means that in the wee hours of February 16th, as the sun creeps over the horizon, I will sound the conch shell and shine the bat signal in the sky in an attempt to hail passionate, politically-minded college students from around the state.

Rally Day is one of the most important events MSUSA sponsors. It is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their collective power, show they are interested and engaged in the political process, and combat the damaging stereotype that college students are a generally apathetic lot. If you care about the future of higher education in the state of Minnesota, you must be there!

If you want to get involved, and by golly we hope you do, please contact either your MSUSA campus coordinator (contact information for all seven campus coordinators is available on the MSUSA website) or me, the Director of Campus Organizing at msmriga@msusa.org. By the way, I was just joking about bringing bullhorns.

JPS Scholarship Video

The next Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship application is due on Friday, April 1, 2011. MnSCU students are eligible to receive the $1,000 award. Check out this video to learn more!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Living With Student Debt Campaign Summary

As student debt continues to climb, more and more young people are saddled by obligations of the past and not able to move forward and bolster the economy of the future. Each dollar that gets paid back in student debt is a dollar that could be spent to generate new economic opportunities for the student or for those affected by their purchasing decisions. As wages continue to remain stagnant and the price of healthcare, housing, food and other essential items rise it is imperative to the success of the economy that young people have expendable income to act as the driving growth force they have been for previous generations.

40 completed surveys have been collected from September 2010 - February 2011.

Survey respondents attended the following public universities:
Minnesota State University Moorhead - 14
Winona State University - 14
Bemidji State University - 4
St. Cloud State University - 4
Southwest Minnesota State University - 2
Minnesota State University, Mankato - 2
Metropolitan State University - 0

$30,682 is the average public higher education debt load of the respondents.

$303 is the average monthly student loan bill of the respondents.

15 years is the average amount of time it will take the respondents to pay off their student loans.

2006 is the average graduation year of respondents.

38 respondents worked while they attended college.

9 of the respondents are currently attending Graduate School or Law School and 1 is unemployed.

Visit www.msusa.org/debtsurvey to participate in the survey.

Click here to find the PDF with each of the completed surveys.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Steven Rosenstone named next chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system


The MnSCU Board of Trustees met on Wednesday, February 2 to choose the next chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. They voted to select Dr. Steven Rosenstone, who currently serves as vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs and professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Rosenstone will take over the position MnSCU chancellor on August 1, 2011. MSUSA and MSCSA had the opportunity to meet with each of the finalists for a short interview and provided feedback to the trustees during the process. In addition, Andrew Spaeth, MSUSA state chair, served on the search committee. MSUSA has appreciated the willingness of Chancellor McCormick to listen to student association input when making decisions, and we look forward to working with Dr. Rosenstone as he moves into this important new leadership position.

The news release issued by MnSCU regarding the chancellor selection is below:

Steven Rosenstone named next chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system

Steven Rosenstone, vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs, and professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, was selected Wednesday as the next chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in a 14-1 vote by the Board of Trustees.

"I am excited that we have found a leader who is uniquely qualified for this position,” said Scott Thiss, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Dr. Rosenstone is a proven leader who brings the vision and breadth of skills and knowledge that we need to lead this system. The Board of Trustees and Chancellor James McCormick look forward to working with chancellor-designate Rosenstone.”

Rosenstone, 59, told the board he could begin Aug. 1. He will succeed James H. McCormick, who is retiring as chancellor of the 32-institution system with an enrollment of more than 434,000 students in credit- and non-credit courses.

"I am honored to be chosen,” Rosenstone said. "I look forward to the tremendous challenges that lie ahead and this opportunity to serve the people of Minnesota by leading the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities."

Rosenstone told the trustees he is eager to visit campuses and find out more about the individual colleges and universities.

“I look forward to meeting and working with the students, faculty and staff. I also plan to connect with business leaders and other members of the public. Minnesotans are rightfully proud of their state colleges and universities, and I will work hard to make an outstanding system even better.”

“I want to extend my congratulations to Dr. Rosenstone,” McCormick said. “I am proud of the students, faculty and staff in this system, who contribute so much to the high quality of life in Minnesota. I will work with Dr. Rosenstone to help ensure a smooth transition.”

David Olson, chair of the Search Advisory Committee and president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said the caliber of candidates was outstanding. “The Board of Trustees has selected an outstanding future chancellor to carry on the exemplary leadership of Dr. McCormick,” said Olson, a former board chair.

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 systemwide 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 of Minnesota, Rosenstone 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.

Rosenstone received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Washington University and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the board of directors of the Guthrie Theater.

Alumni Association Update: January 2011

Networking Social & Alumni vs. Student Lobbying Challenge, Friday, February 4th
Join us on Friday, February 4th, 4:30pm at Kip's Irish Pub, Marriott Hotel in St. Louis Park for a networking social in conjunction with the students delegates conference. Appetizers will be served. Join the Alumni Team to take on the students in the Lobbying Message Training Game Challenge from 6:00pm-8:00pm! This will be a great chance to network and socialize with other alumni and to meet current student leaders.

Rally Day, Wednesday, February 16th
Join us on the Capitol steps Wednesday, February 16th for the student rally day! Please RSVP to Kari Winter if you would like to join the students after the rally for free lunch. The march from St. Paul College to the Capitol will begin at 11:00am., the rally will be from 11:30am-12:30pm, and the reception and lunch will be from 1:00pm-3:00pm at St. Paul College. This is a great opportunity to show lawmakers how important it is to make public higher education a priority! Click here for more information and to see videos of alumni from the 2007 Rally Day!

Seven Mentor Positions Open
The Alumni Association Mentorship Program has seven mentor positions available for alumni to register for. Please register online today to mentor a student. Each mentorship pair can be customized to communication styles and topics. This is a good way to get to know future leaders and give back to MSUSA.

Alumni Association Board Meeting Held January 19th
The Alumni Association Board met on Wednesday, January 19th. The main discussion topics were the FY12 budget, Bylaw amendments, and committee updates. Budget proposal highlights include funds to increase mentorship opportunities, larger networking and social events, and advocacy efforts, including advertising for upcoming MnSCU Trustee openings.

Student Conference, February 4-6th
The MSUSA Board of Directors and Delegates Assembly will be meeting in St. Louis Park February 4th-6th, 2011. Click here to see the conference documents. Students will be discussing the Federal Legislative Agenda, the Student Union Fee Cap, the FY12 budget, and will be taking nominations for the 2011-2012 Officers. During lunch there will be a presentation about the Strategic Plan and the accomplishments that have been made. Alumni, Paul Hetland, will be speaking about his experiences when he was a student.

Alumni Association Annual Meeting to be held Saturday, April 9, 2011

The 3rd Annual Alumni Association meeting will be at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th at the Country Inn & Suites in Woodbury in conjunction with the student delegates conference in the Twin Cities. All alumni are invited and encouraged to attend. At the meeting we will hold elections, discuss future association goals, and discuss how alumni can become more involved.
Please watch for more information on how to run for the Board in the coming weeks.

Four Alumni Attend MSCSA Leadership Scholarship Dinner
Four MSUSA alumni attended the annual MSCSA Leadership Scholarship Dinner on Friday, January 7, 2011. The featured speakers were Senator Amy Klobuchar and Dr. Linda Baer of the Gates Foundation. This year's proceeds totaled just over $10,000!

Penny Program Announces Award Winners
Congratulations to the Fall 2010 Barbara J. Penny Community Service Scholarship winners. Each student was awarded $1,500! The recipients are: Magdalena Chudzik, Hibbing Community College; Asgad Mohamed - Rochester Community & Technical College; Dori Picard - Normandale Community College. March 15th, 2011 is the next Penny Program application due date.