MnSCU’s Ivory Towers

Most Minnesotans don’t know much about what MnSCU is. It’s less likely that they know that MnSCU has a Board of Trustees, which are supposed to pay attention to what’s happening at the universities, community colleges and technical colleges. It’s almost impossible to find proof that they’re anything more than a rubberstamp for the MnSCU chancellor. Finally, next to no one knows that each congressional district has a representative, at least theoretically.

For the record, here’s the current MnSCU Board of Trustees.


The reality is that nobody’s ever heard of a MnSCU trustee holding a townhall meeting. That’s because these trustees don’t hold townhall meetings. They prefer doing what they’ve always done, namely, rubberstamping things that MnSCU chancellors want. That’s great if you’re running an ivory tower but it’s a worthless way to connect with the needs of the communities. It’s a worthless way to find out what the businesses’ workforce needs are in their district.

There’s another ‘advantage’ to never holding townhall meetings: staying anonymous. That’s a distinct advantage if your highest priority is rubberstamping decisions instead of representing the citizens of their districts.

These MnSCU trustees need to step out of their ivory towers. Staying in them, they only hear from the same voices. What’s worse is that they only hear the same opinions on the same old subjects.

That isn’t likely to happen, though. One professor wrote to that district’s ‘representative’. This professor asked if the district representative planned on holding any townhall meetings. Later that night, the ‘representative’ replied, saying “No, I am not.”

MnSCU has never functioned that well. Now, it’s known by professors as the institution “that’s taken the fun out of dysfunctional.” University presidents don’t answer to local citizens. The chancellor only answers to the Board of Trustees who don’t answer to or report to anyone.

These trustees should meet regularly with the people in their districts. That means they should talk frequently with local businesses, civic leaders and professors. In fact, if they got out of their ivory towers from time to time, they might actually say no to the things the presidents and the MnSCU chancellor are pushing. If nothing else, they’d hear a different perspective than the stale things they’re currently hearing.

It’s time that people took a wrecking ball to MnSCU’s ivory towers. It’s time to hear from the people they theoretically represent.

Comments welcome at Let Freedom Ring.