Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State

Guest Opinion: Crunch time in the Legislature for WSU, MSC Southeast


(5/9/2018)

Larry Lundblad, president of Minnesota State College Southeast
Larry Lundblad, president of Minnesota State College Southeast


Scott Olson, president of Winona State University
Scott Olson, president of Winona State University


From: Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State; Larry Lundblad, president of Minnesota State College Southeast; and Scott Olson, president of Winona State University

With only days to go before the legislative session wraps-up, our legislators are working around the clock. We are hopeful that the final legislation includes adequate funding for the colleges and universities of the Minnesota State system and its essential campuses in the Winona community: Winona State University and Minnesota State College Southeast.

Our request to the legislature is especially important this year due to the critical need for asset-preservation funding, because all 54 of our campuses are dealing with a significant backlog of deferred maintenance. Adequate funding from the state will be essential to ensuring that we can continue to take care of the state’s buildings while effectively supporting the success of students and delivering a talented workforce to employers.

For example, at Winona State, Stark Hall needs a replacement HVAC system and upgrades to utility tunnels, while Minnesota State College Southeast requires a roof replacement on its main campus building. These are not extravagant requests — they are requests for investments in the facilities that directly impact the functioning of these important Minnesota assets and the learning environment for our students.

Our legislative request also includes $10 million for supplemental funding — support that helps our campuses meet student and community needs in a nimble, innovative way. This could mean $136,000 in additional support for Southeast, and $581,000 for Winona State — enough to make a tremendous difference in our ability to maintain and develop the kinds of programs and services that are so important to our regional economy.

Our request also includes a strategic investment in information technology that replaces our outdated student records system. The technology that currently runs the core of our enterprise is nearing the end of its useful life, and its replacement allows us to continue to serve today’s highly mobile student effectively and efficiently.

While all of these investments are important to our ability to serve students, we hope legislators also will weigh the important role the colleges and universities of Minnesota State play in serving our communities and the state as a whole. We all are aware that our state is facing a substantial workforce shortage. The colleges and universities of Minnesota State, including Winona State University and Minnesota State College Southeast, are the Legislature’s most effective partner in addressing the shortage and other challenges business and industry are facing, as well as growing the informed and engaged citizenry that builds a great Minnesota. Every year, Minnesota’s flagship system of 30 state colleges and seven state universities sends approximately 40,000 graduates into the economy — in fact, about 20,000 are completing degrees and certificates this month. These graduates are the very talent that will ease Minnesota’s workforce shortage and help communities thrive.

Taxpayers have been very supportive of our system in the past. Governor Dayton has shown his support with strong recommendations for funding. Senator Miller and Representative Pelowski have been great partners in the past and are working hard to support us again. With support from the legislature, and with the continued hard work and spirit of innovation from our faculty and staff, we are fully prepared to continue delivering on our commitments to the citizens of Minnesota and the state of Minnesota as a whole.

 

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