Thursday, May 31, 2012
A farwell from State Chair Bardonner
As I reflect on the last year, I am humbled to have had the privilege and honor to serve my fellow 70,000 students at the seven MN State Universities as State Chair of the Minnesota State University Student Association. This was a busy year and the time flew by, but a lot was accomplished in advocating on behalf of students. First semester included participation in events held by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Governor’s Job Summit, two federal lobby trips to discuss the importance of the Pell Grant, a successful Fall Delegates conference, many board meetings, the publication of the association’s first Annual Report and the successful hire of our Executive Director Elsbeth Howe. Spring semester was equally as busy as the Minnesota House and Senate held many hearings in regards to legislation for higher education. Testifying in favor of a bonding bill and support for HEAPR projects, supporting the Greater MN Internship Tax Credit bill and helping to draft newly enacted textbook legislation were the highlights from this year’s legislative session. The spring also included three events with members of the MN Congressional Delegation. A visit at MSU-Moorhead from Senator Amy Klobuchar, a press conference at the MN State Capitol with Senator Al Franken and a small, town hall meeting with Representative Betty McCollum. Students were thrilled to have the opportunity to tell their stories to these members, all strong advocates of public higher education. The semester concluded with the signing of a new office space lease and a success hire of a new office manager.
Though the association faced several challenges throughout the year, staff turnover and the absence of an executive director being one, I am proud to say that with the help of my fellow officers, staff and a supportive board we not only ‘survived’ the year, but have made this a year of relationship building and pushed the association forward. Due to our work on the Pell Grant and other federal student grant and loan conversations, our association developed relationships with federal associations who share a common goal, to maintain access and affordability to public higher education. These new relationships will continue in the future and will only strengthen our advocating efforts.
As every student leader knows, goals which were set at the beginning of the year are not always completed by time ones term comes to an end, I am yet again finding this to be true. However much has been accomplished, there is always a lot of work to be done within MSUSA. As one of the strongest state students associations across the nation we need to continue to tell our students’ stores, fight for funding for higher education and increase awareness of our association and the issues affecting our students!
Student leaders also know that any position is what you make of it and that you are only as good as those around you. I was blessed this year to have had seven board members truly committed to the success of their fellow students, the betterment of their universities and the strategic framework of MSUSA. Thank you to the 2011-2012 MSUSA Board of Directors and my fellow officers, for trusting my vision for the association, for your innovative thinking and for helping me to challenge the status quo. Through our idea sharing came many more challenges, goals and expectations for the association, things that have only made us stronger!
I am confident the 2012-2013 officer team, with State Chair-Elect Moriah Miles leading the charge, will continue to challenge the association to think and act in new ways to make our advocacy that much more successful. With it being an election year, the last year of MSUSA’s strategic plan and a budget year for the next Biennium, officers, board members, campus committees and staff will be need your help! Continue to check out the MSUSA website for ways to get involved!
Thank you again for the opportunity to work with you and on your behalf throughout this past year. It has truly been an honor to serve!