The Budget Crunch might be the story of the year across many Minnesota campuses, but it’s not the only thing people have been talking about.
A number of campuses have still been able to sport new buildings, while a few have been busy grappling with flooding or academic controversies.
Finding the most notable stories is tough, considering that On Campus has been around a few months. And I’m still trying to become familiar with all the players in this Land of 10,000 Colleges.
But I’ve reviewed the news of 2010 and asked higher-ed media folks to tell me what big stuff hit their campus this year. Alas, it’s not a complete or uniform list. Some schools didn’t provide info, some — such as the U — hit the news a number of times, and others had a fairly quiet year.
In any case, here’s a mix of the most important events (or at least those with the highest profile). If I’ve missed anything, please let me know.
- Anoka-Ramsey Community College: Word came down last month that by next fall, one president would govern both Anoka-Ramsey and Anoka Technical College as part of a realignment. It’s not a merger, and both colleges will function separately, but that didn’t stop worries over funding and resources. The community college also unveiled a new state-of-the-art science lab — one of 10 that were part of a $5.7 million MnSCU campus upgrade.
- Carleton College: Steven Poskanzer was named Carleton’s new president, and had his inauguration convocation despite the flooding in the area. The college also completed a $300 million fund-raising campaign, and a student prank — turning the conservatory into a large model of R2-D2 — made the British press.
- College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University: CSB and SJU showed their international flair by ranking No. 1 nationally in mid-length study-abroad participation.
- College of St. Scholastica: The college announced The Science Initiative, a 40,000 square-foot addition to the campus Science Center. The initiative will build new laboratories, classrooms and an atrium-style gathering area for students. Construction starts early next year and will be completed in 2012 — St. Scholastica’s centennial year.
- Concordia College, Moorhead: President Pamela Jolicoeur, 65, died after suffering an early morning stroke at her home.
- Concordia University, St. Paul: Concordia President Robert Holst announced his retirement.
- Gustavus Adolphus College: Gustavus forged ahead to improved its science instrumentation, receiving a number of grants from organizations such as the National Science Foundation. The college recently acquired a Zeiss Confocal Microscope, a Scanning Laser Doppler Vibrometer, and an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer. (Now that’s a mouthful.) It saw flooding tie up traffic this fall. On a lighter note, it also saw its monstrous corpse flower bloom for only the second time in the plant’s life, and got media coverage when students covered a professor’s entire office entirely in aluminum foil.
- Hamline University: Students got to get a good look at Minnesota gubernatorial candidates when Hamline hosted a candidates’ debate on campus. Students had opportunity to meet with candidates and ask questions. And Carol V. Beggs, a 1966 Hamline graduate who died of cancer, left $2.5 million to the chemistry program with the wish that a Hamline grad might someday find a cure for cancer.
- Lake Superior College: Just as it was finally recovering from October’s storm flooding, LSC cut up to two-thirds of its vice-president positions.
- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU): In the same year MnSCU announced budget difficulties, early retirements, tuition hikes and cuts to its headquarters — especially at its Mankato and St. Clout State university campuses — it enraged union employees and others by giving out more than $220,000 in bonuses to top administrators, including a $40,000 bonus to Chancellor James McCormick. But it also started wooing dropouts in an attempt to boost graduation rates, and made enrolling easier for veterans by translating military service in some areas into college credit. To top off this time of turbulence, MnSCU announced it was seeking a replacement for McCormick, who is retiring.
- Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena: High-schoolers displaced by a June tornado are now taking their classes on campus, having nowhere else to go. The college offered to lease them some space until they get their own. (It might be a bit tight on occasion.)
- North Hennepin Community College: Chemistry professor Eugenia Paulus gained some star power by attending the White House summit on two-year colleges –– a sector that has gained a lot of recent attention due to the economic downturn and for-profit-college scandals.
- St. Cloud State University: Budget issues prompted St. Cloud State to do the unthinkable this year: cut football and other sports. But students rallied to buy athletics some time, voting in a $1.74-per-credit fee increase to fill the gap for sports. In return, President Earl Potter promised two years of no sports cuts. This month Potter announced a reorganization of the university, which eliminated aviation.
- St. Cloud Technical & Community College: The college began offering an associate degree in nursing this fall after receiving unanimous approval for the change from the Minnesota Board of Nursing.
- St. Paul College: This two-year institution got a shot in the arm, being named best community college in the nation by Washington Monthly — and given a glowing write-up in an article called “Shakespeare with Power Tools” — just in time for its centennial.
- University of Minnesota – Rochester: The new kid on the block completed its first year of classes — and was already looking at expanding.
- University of Minnesota – Twin Cities: The U caused an uproar this fall when it canceled the debut of the environmental documentary Troubled Waters, which looked at pollution (much of it agricultural) of the Mississippi River. Critics raised questions of conflict of interest and academic freedom when it became known that the official who pulled the plug, Vice President of University Relations Karen Himle, had ties to Big Ag. Himle later resigned to work in the private sector. Meanwhile, three fraternities grappled with sexual assault allegations (one of which was later dropped), and trustees chose Stony Brook University Provost Eric Kaler to succeed President Robert Bruininks, who’s stepping down next year. Meanwhile, the Big 10 expanded — all that amid a year of cuts to the College of Liberal Arts, among other things, and a year that ended with the system’s first winter campus closure.
- University of St. Thomas: This story went global — the media confrontation between John Abraham, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas, and British global-warming denier Christopher Monckton. The Brit got nasty, saying, among other things, that St. Thomas was a “half-assed Catholic Bible college” and that St. Thomas’ Rev. Dennis Dease was a “creep of a president.” Abraham and St. Thomas remained civil, and the professor went on to help create a Climate Rapid Response Team, a group of scientists made available to explain the scientific community’s thinking on global-warming issues.