Forgive me for being cynical at this point but I’m not optimistic that the MnSCU nationwide search committee will hire the right person for the job. I won’t be surprised if the next president of St. Cloud State is a social justice hire. I can picture MnSCU hiring a minority female with little or no executive experience, much less executive success.
What’s required is a no-frills leader with a comprehensive plan to rebuild, not rebrand, St. Cloud State. The biggest change St. Cloud State has made in the last decade is that they’ve tried changing the University’s identity. It wasn’t that long ago that St. Cloud State was known as having great programs like accounting, aviation, criminal justice and education. These days, those programs aren’t featured. In the case of aviation, it was sneered at, then eliminated.
That was stupid on multiple levels. First, the program was growing at the time it was cancelled. Next, those students were taking lots of science classes, which increased the health of the science department. Third, the cost of the department to the University was minimal. Programs that are growing, healthy and inexpensive should be programs that should be prioritized, not eliminated. This was a case of campus politics defeated common sense. As taxpayers, we have the right to demand intelligent use of our taxes. We have the right to demand that campus politics be kept to a minimum, too.
By re-establishing St. Cloud State as a serious academic institution, the University gives students a reason for attending St. Cloud State. You give parents a reason for sending their kids to St. Cloud State. In a recent St. Cloud Times spin piece on enrollment, they talked about how enrollment had declined again but the ‘silver lining’ was that diversity was better. What student or parent thinks of diversity as a major selling point to a university? Seriously, any administrator that’s using that as a talking point should be fired ASAP.
Another thing that must change at St. Cloud State is that the new administration must require professors to actually teach classes. A new president likely won’t notice that Mark Jaede is essentially paid to be a union representative and political activist. That dead weight must end immediately.
The next president must also be at a stage in their career where they can do what’s best for the University without worrying about the impact their decisions will have on their career.
In summarization, St. Cloud State’s next president must have a plan to immediately turn the University around. That president must have the leadership skills to execute their plan, too. The next president can’t hesitate in refocusing the University’s resources on what’s most important. To modify a phrase used by the Clinton team in 1992, ‘it’s the academics, stupid.’ Finally, it’s about creating a university that’s pumping out tons of well-educated graduates that fit right into a vibrant economy.
If the next president of St. Cloud State doesn’t have those traits, then the University has short-changed itself.
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