Snippets from the Sederburg interview.
They’re edited and not verbatim.
How he sees trends of next 10 years:
1- We’ll move to a multiplicity of service providers in education. Like cable TV. The ability to tie and connect these providers together will be important.
2- We’ll see a stronger coalition between higher ed and biz in workforce development. China and other developing countries have relied on this, and America and Minnesota have let that slip. In 10 years you’ll see partnership between higher ed, business and econ development programs of the state – such as workforce service. That’s clearly underway now and will be stronger in 10 years.
3- We’ll see a development of a seamless system of education. The boundaries of kindergarten to grammar school, grammar school to high school, high school to college, etc, will blur a lot. We will move along a seamless system and have individualized education. That will be sped up by technology. But the next 30-40 years are less clear, and that’s concerning. If the market loses interest in traditional credits and degrees, that will be a problem for us.
Q: So what transformation needs to go on in this system to adapt to those changes?
I really think the model of the future is the network model – of strong institutions providing services to individuals. Therein lies the good future for systems. It’ll be extremely bright. It will be a requirement of states to build those kinds of networks.
He spoke of how he turned around Ferris State University in Michigan in nine years, and spoke of the various roles that it played — roles that are similar to MnSCU’s:
Ferris State was a tech school and a community college of sorts. We were constantly working on balancing technical education with community-college and four-year degrees. I’ve become a fan of introducing students into technical degrees, but also bringing in the general education stuff.
On collaborating — but also competing — with the University of Minnesota:
Legislators and state economic development people really value that workforce service. We shouldn’t automatically assume that the legislature will favor the U of M over us. I think there’s a wonderful opportunity for MnSCU to build on that network of supporters and highlight the career technical field and career development. In the broad picture, we need to be a partner with the U of M. We need to have a unified message with the U of M as much as we possibly can in the promotion of higher ed.
There is an element of competition when we go to the legislature, but the approach is not from a zero-sum basis, but an additive process. We can cooperate on projects.
Sederburg went into his diversity efforts at his previous colleges, but his talk was prefaced by this odd exchange:
Trustee Sundin: Since you left Mankato (his alma mater), it doesn’t have the same complexion.
Sunderberg: Well, that’s distressing.
Sundin: Well it may be for the better.
Not sure what he meant by that — or if he knew how that sounded.
He said setting such performance targets — and building them into administrators’ performance bonuses –was a good tactic, saying, “It shows it’s a priority.”
Sederburg said he’s been through three or four economic downturns in his time in Michigan and Utah, and “won’t shy away from making tough decisions.”
Trustee Van Houten noted that Sederburg has experience in most of the areas MnSCU deals with, but asked whether Sederburg could take direction — or just plow through with things he’s implemented elsewhere. Sederburg replied: “I’ll try to be a good learner.”
He spoke of changing our language from “workforce development” to “talent development” as if he were looking for a way to make all degrees relevant to the workforce:
How do we develop pathways, career pathways that aren’t just vocational? We should build pathways to liberal arts and the creative arts. We’re just thinking of that now. We need talent force development with this wide range of career pathways and various levels of technical sophistication within that.
On an area MnSCU needs to improve in building a coherent message:
MnSCU needs to establish its case and theme, an umbrella theme we can all rally around. It needs to tie in action steps on what reform strategies to use. What directional changes are needed to fulfill this plan? It needs statements from each institution on how they fit into the plan.
ln the use of technology, we need to look at efficiencies, not just add-on cost. Unfortunately, many use the “Lone Ranger” approach. You have a teachers who use as much technology as they can. So there’s lots of cost, but no efficiency. You need to use technology systematically.
He said he hadn’t raised funds for a system foundation before — Utah doesn’t have one, he said — but talked about the need to establish an image or “brand” that people could identify with.
It’s a tricky thing to build a brand around a system, because there’s no emotional connection to the system. We need to think about building a brand around our strengths.
He mentioned his ability to sell an image of Utah higher education to the business community, which has backed him on a major education project. But he said a brand should target just 1 percent of the population — key decision makers — and MnSCU leaders should “not be so worried about that other 99 percent.”
And on working the legislature:
I enjoy doing it. It’s a strength that I have.