Friday, April 29, 2011

Legislative Update 4/25-4/29

This week at the Legislature the members came back from their Easter/Passover break to a flurry of activity as the committees worked to meet the first policy deadline. All policy bills with no fiscal impact needed to be passed out of their applicable committees.

At the same time this was happening some of the Conference Committees were meeting as the Legislature tries to finalize it's budget. There are only 3 weeks before the Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn.

The Higher Education Committees did not meet, nor did the Higher Education Conference Committee. However, there were still committees meeting that include issues we have been working on. The Taxes Conference Committee met a few times this week to discuss their differing proposals. These proposals both include reductions to the Property Tax Renters Credit that many students currently receive. The Senate has proposed reducing the percentage return from 19% to 15% and the house has proposed a further reduction of 12%. Governor Dayton's budget proposed no changes to this program. This program is relied upon by many students that are renters and depend on this money to pay for the rising costs of college and housing.

Also, the Voter ID fight ramped up this week with the introduction and first hearing of a constitutional amendment that requires photo identification to vote. As I'm typing this I'm listening to the debate in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee regarding this proposal. The Senate also passed SF509 which is the bill that has the same requirement. The reason the legislature is doing two different proposals is because Gov. Dayton is unlikely to sign the bill that requires a photo ID to vote, but if the legislature by a simple majority votes to place the constitutional amendment on the ballot the Governor plays no role in that process.

During the Senate floor discussion of SF509 MSUSA submitted a letter of opposition that talked about the problem that many students would face if this requirement were passed and if the current vouching system were repealed. SF509 was passed by a vote of 37-26. All GOP members voted yes and all DFL members voted no.

This week we had students from Metro State visit the Capitol and meet with their local legislators and some key staff members. They had great conversations about the difficulties they are facing as they advance their college careers.

The Higher Education Conference Committee will meet next Tuesday, May 3rd to take testimony on their budget proposals and hopefully begin to work out the differences in their bills. MSUSA Chair Andrew Spaeth will be testifying to the Conference Committee.

As always, please contact me with any questions at or (651) 815-1196. Good luck to all of you as you study and prepare for finals. I wish you all the best of luck.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fill Out MSUSA's Student Finance Survey and Enter to Win a New iPod Touch!

MSUSA recently sent out a survey to state university students regarding student finances. The anonymous survey collects information about how students are paying for college, as well as use of financial aid, student loans and credit cards.

We plan to use the information in a couple of different ways. First, we will use the data we collect in our efforts to advocate for more funding for campuses, low tuition and fair financial aid policies. Second, we hope to obtain some grant funding to do an "education campaign" next year to help make sure students have the information they need to make good financial decisions today and in the future!

We are giving away an new iPod Touch to one lucky person who fills out the survey! The winner will be drawn on Friday, May 6th, so we need to get as many surveys filled out as possible by then.

After you fill out the survey, please contact your friends and classmates to do the same, and post a link to the survey on Facebook. Thank you!!

here to fill out the survey.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

JPS Scholarship Award Winner Announcement

The Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship Board is pleased to award Jessica Ann Remhof for her commitment to student leadership at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Jessica will receive the $1,000 Spring 2011 award.

Jessica, originally from Inver Grove Heights, MN, is in her second year of the School Psychology Graduate program at MSU Moorhead. Her dream career is to be a School Neuropsychologist.

Jessica has been working in the Disability Services Office at MSUM, where she advises, supports, and counsels 35 undergraduate students. She has also been involved with the Academic Resource Office, the campus Suicide Prevention task-force, serves as the President of the Association of School Psychology, and has designed mentorships for first-year Graduate students.

A peer of Jessica's said, "She continually examines, questions, challenges the status quo in an approach to enhance her learning of the school psychology profession and her own professional development. She is both appropriate and yet fearless as an advocate for the improvement of better educational and life experiences for the children and their families."

Each student applicant is asked to creatively answer, "If you were a drink at a coffee shop, what would you be and why?" Check out the photo of Jessica's wonderful answer.

Donate to the Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship today! Monthly, annual and one-time donations are all greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Legislative Update -- Governor's Roundtable on Higher Education

On Tuesday, students from Saint Cloud State visited the Capitol for LobbyCore and got the opportunity to have lunch with Rep. Banaian and the Chairs of Higher Ed Rep. Nornes and Sen. Fischbach. The students got to share some of concerns with the legislators and also got a great opportunity to get to know them a bit and share their own stories. They also met with Sen. Pederson later in the day. We have Moorhead and Metro State scheduled for April 27th.

A panel of higher education leaders, faculty, students and staff met yesterday at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul for Gov. Dayton's round table discussion on higher education. Dayton heard directly from students, faculty and administrators about the impact of the House and Senate proposed budget cuts, and discussed the future of higher education. Chancellor Jim McCormick said that studies show by 2018, 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require postsecondary education, and the current degrees and certificates will not be enough for the country to advance globally. He said more people need to obtain degrees.

Other round table speakers included our very own Minnesota State University Student Association Chair Andrew Spaeth who said he's concerned about the future of Minnesota if the legislative proposed budget cuts are enacted. Spaeth also said that the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is one of the most efficient systems in the country already.

President of Metropolitan State University Sue Hammersmith said there is a direct relationship between the disinvestment on the part of the state and the increasing tuition burden on the students. President Terry Leas of Riverland Community College said decisions will have to be made, whether it's closing programs to balance the budget or cut off access. Leas said his college has nationally recognized programs, yet they will have to choose among them when deciding what to cut. Metropolitan State University professor Monte Bute said higher education is a public good and told Gov. Dayton that if he stands up for the public good, there are many Minnesotans who will as well.

Gov. Dayton said the round table discussion gave him a strengthening of his resolve to stand firm on minimal cuts, and resist the deeper cuts being proposed in the House and Senate bills.

Today, conference committees are beginning at the Capitol. Higher Ed meets at 12:30 to go over the details of their two proposals. Taxes met this morning and briefly discussed the proposed cuts to the renters property tax credit.
Beginning on Monday of next week the legislature takes a week long break and then returns on April 26 for the final push to a budget solution.

Please follow MSUSA on twitter @MSUSA1967 and like us on Facebook at

If you have any questions about legislative activity please contact Jonathan Bohn at

MnSCU Board Discusses Developmental Education

The MnSCU Board of Trustees' Academic and Student Affairs Committee convened yesterday to discuss best practices in developmental education. A number of campuses provided information about practices they are finding useful in helping students succeed in college. These practices include supplemental instruction (structured tutoring/study time, especially for historically difficult classes), providing developmental education in a different context (ex. team-teaching so that developmental work goes hand in hand with occupational-type course work), modularizing/accelerating developmental coursework (so that it takes less time/money for students to be college-ready), use of learning communities, and working with P-12 (both to ensure college-readiness and to increase access for underserved/underrepresented populations).

MSUSA has been working with a task force set up by the board to look at these campus practices, as well as other ideas for making developmental education work better for campuses and for students. The full report from that task force will be presented to the Board of Trustees in May. MSUSA will then work to evaluate how we can play a role in moving recommendations forward on our state university campuses.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Delegates 2011 Recap

The Spring MSUSA Delegates Assembly and Board of Directors met this past weekend to discuss many important issues.

The conference kicked off Friday night with an awards ceremony recognizing the hard work the MSUSA student leaders and campus committees exhibited over the past year. This was followed by the highly anticipated election of State Chair by the MSUSA board of directors. Candidates included Brett Anderson from Minnesota State University Mankato, Amanda Bardonner from St. Cloud State University, and Michael Meehlhause from Bemidji State University. After a hard fought election, Amanda Bardonner was eventually elected to serve as the fiscal year 2012 state chair.

The weekend's business continued early Saturday morning with sessions covering the platform, introduction to MSUSA for first time attendees, policy updates and more. Chancellor McCormick addressed the conference attendees over lunch for what is likely the last time as he will be retiring this summer. Alumni Association Chair, Josh Martin also spoke, encouraging graduating seniors to join the association.

After lunch, the delegates assembly convened to handle a variety of business. This included approval of the changes to the association's bylaws and platform, approval of the MnSCU Workplan, in-depth discussion and approval of the fiscal year 2012 MSUSA budget, and the election of next year's MSUSA vice chair and treasurer. Candidates for vice chair included: Jake Hite from Winona State University, Annelise Hughes also from Winona State University, and Nikki Sabby from Minnesota State University Mankato. After a relatively quick election, Nikki Sabby was elected fiscal year 2012 vice chair.

Delegates concluded the night with the treasurer's election. Candidates for treasurer included: Tyler Ulferts from Minnesota State University Mankato, Rachel Wassberg from Minnesota State University Moorhead, and Danielle Wilson from Winona State University. After another unusually short election, Tyler Ulferts was elected fiscal year 2012 treasurer.

Also on Saturday, the Alumni Association held its annual meeting. During the meeting the new board members were elected, bylaw changes were proposed and approved, and an overview of the associations work was presented. Alumni Association water bottles were given to attendees as a special thank you for their work. Board members elected included: James Foster from Bemidji State University, Brett Anderson from Minnesota State University Mankato, Michael "Punch" Jamnick from St. Cloud State University, Justin McMartin from Southwest Minnesota State University, and Ian Galchutt from Winona State University. Jennifer Weil from Minnesota State University Moorhead and Michael Meehlhause from Bemidji State University were also elected to serve as at-large members of the board.

On Sunday morning the board of directors reconvened. Business included ratification of the delegate's recommendations. This included approval of the fiscal year 2012 budget with minor changes, most notably the decision to earmark a portion of the federal advocacy line item to be used for on-campus congressional events. Other business handled by the board included: approval of the JPS and Penny Programs budgets, Penny Program board appointments, Code of Conduct policy, campus committee credit card policy, revised campus coordinator job descriptions, fiscal year 2012 conference schedule, a delegate reapportionment study to be conducted every two years and an office telecommunications policy. The board also recommended Jennifer Weil from Minnesota State University Moorhead and Brett Anderson from Minnesota State University, Mankato as nominees to the Minnesota Governor's Office for the MnSCU student board of trustee position. Lastly, the board set a transitional conference for incoming and outgoing board members and officers for May 19, 2011.

Overall, the conference was a great success, preparing the students of the Minnesota State University Student Association for the challenges and opportunities posed in the next year.

Hiring: Part-time temporary data entry positions

The Minnesota State University Student Association is seeking persons to enter data into our new Contact Management System database.

Start date: As soon as possible
Completion date: No later than July 1st
Rate: $9.00 per hour
Hours: Days, Monday through Friday; Hours may be flexible but must fall between 9:00am and 5:00pm

Position responsibilities:
Key data into the eTapestry contact management system.

Position duties:
1. Key in data, maintaining the confidential nature of the data
2. Document any issues encountered during the process
3. Maintain records of what has been entered
4. Other duties as directed by the Director of Development & Alumni Outreach

1. Ability to accurately key data
2. Experience with databases preferred

Interested? Please contact:
Kari Winter, Director of Development & Alumni Outreach
23 Empire Drive, Suite 100
Saint Paul, MN 55103

Monday, April 11, 2011

Conference Committee Members Named

Today the Senate named the members of the Higher Ed Conference Committee. Here is a complete list of House and Senate Conferees:

Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville
Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidj
Sen. David Brown, R-Becker
Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan
Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester

Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls
Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake
Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown
Rep. Pat Mazorol, R-Bloomington
Rep. David Hancock, R-Bemidji

Saint Cloud students are scheduled to come for lobbycore on Tuesday and have a lunch meeting with Rep. Banain, Nornes and Sen. Fischbach. They will be meeting with Sen. Brown as well at 2:30.

The first Conference Committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 14th at 12:30pm.

The legislative Easter/Passover Break begins on Monday, April 18th and lasts the entire week. The Legislature will resume it's activities on Monday, April 25. Please check back for more updates as the process continues.

As always, please follow @msusa1967 for real time updates and like us on facebook at

Thank you!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Improved Student Loan Processing Moves Forward

Improvements to student loan processing will soon make an impact to the speed and ease by which students can accept their student loans and have them certified. We are optimistic that these changes will be implemented for those applying for fall student loans. This work is a part of the Students First initiatives.

Currently, nearly all campuses use paper for all student loan processing. This means that students must fill out a paper-and-pencil form and mail it back to the financial aid office on their campus. Financial aid offices then must enter the data by hand to process and certify student loans. This process can take six weeks or more to complete, especially during the times of the year when financial aid offices are very busy.

The new student loan processing system will put the steps to accepting a student loan online. This will improve the process in several ways. First, it will be a part of students' e-services page and will be easily accessible. It provides a clear and fast way for a student to accept his or her loans, and based on the test site that I looked at last week, it will be a significant improvement for students. Students will also be able to see the status of their student loans. Second, because the loan acceptance page will be directly tied into the MnSCU system's database, there will no longer be any need for entering data by hand at financial aid offices. This will not only speed up the process, but will also likely help eliminate data entry errors that can occur. Finally, automating the process will also free up the time of staff in financial aid offices to help students who need assistance and have questions, rather than spending time doing data entry.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

JPS Scholarship Application Deadline Closed

Below you can find a breakdown of the April 1st, 2011 Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship applicant information.

University & Number of Applicants
Metropolitan State University - 4
Winona State University - 4
Southwest Minnesota State University - 2
Minnesota State University Moorhead - 1
Bemidji State University - 1
St. Cloud State University - 1
Minnesota State University, Mankato -0

Applicant Gender
Female - 10
Male - 3

How did you hear about the program?
MSUSA Website - 6
University Website - 5
Word of Mouth - 3
Student Government Office - 2
Facebook - 1
Handbill - 1
Poster - 1
Warrior Leadership Retreat - 1
Other - 1

The Board will be announcing the winner near the end of April. Thanks to everyone for applying and spreading the word about the Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship!