MSU Moorhead memo on Corrick Center's closure

Here’s a memo from MSU Moorhead’s president, Edna Mora Szymanski, on Tuesday’s announcement of the closure of the Corrick Center for at-risk students:

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

I have some important information to share with the campus community. Yesterday afternoon, I met with the Corrick Center faculty to inform them that the Corrick Center would be closing after this semester. Attached is the material I reviewed with them, but I would like to highlight several items.

1.       As you may recall, in December we announced a plan to move the focus of the Corrick Center programs to Mathematics and English. As I began to think about how to implement that decision, I realized that I was not following one of my most basic beliefs. Specifically, the governance for curriculum should be within the academic discipline. In other words, decisions about curriculum in Math should be made by Math faculty members, and decisions about curriculum in English should be made by English faculty.

2.        One thing that has become clear through the work of the task force is that we have many students who need developmental Math, English, assistance with study skills, and intensive advising. These are not just the students who have or would likely have been admitted to the Corrick Center. We need to better serve all of these students Having an overall university plan for these services best meets the need of all of our students.

3.       As I further reflected on the Corrick Center outcome data I remained very troubled. In a nutshell, if we continue without intervention, approximately 3 of every 4 Corrick Center students will leave us without a degree. Many of those will have substantial debt. The findings of the Task Force suggested some current Corrick Center practices create barriers to successful transition to the major. Thus, I became convinced that we need to act now in order to give our current Corrick Center students the best chance for long term success.

4.       We will be working closely with Corrick Center students to insure their successful transition to their major programs. We had our first student meeting yesterday and will have another one today. Many of you will be involved with this process as you are asked to assist with advising them in their chosen major or as they discover the major they would like to pursue. Denise Gorsline and Gary Nickell will be coordinating this special advising initiative and will be available to answer any of your questions or provide support.

5.       The current Corrick Center tenured and probationary faculty members have been offered the opportunity to request transfer into other departments. This process has been outlined with the faculty, following contractual guidelines.

6.       In all other aspects, the Corrick Center continues to operate as usual through this semester.

We will be having town hall meetings early in February to further discuss our efforts in promoting student success. I am looking forward to the continued work on the Task Force on Student Graduation and Retention Rate Improvement.

Last but not least, I’m also pleased to inform you that, even with our new admissions process for at-risk students, as of this week, our admissions of new entering freshman for next year are up 26% over the same time last year. Our current trends suggest another bumper freshman class next year.

I am attaching the more comprehensive statement I have made about this change. The Corrick Center was created at a time when there were few options for students and sought to serve the historic charge of public higher education to be an entry place for all people to further their education. It has been home to a group of extremely dedicated faculty. Now other entry points are in place and we need to refocus our resources to serve even more students.

I hope this semester is off to a good start. Thanks for all of the good work you do for our students.