Posted: February 21, 1997

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

More than 40 members of the Minnesota Legislature have formed a "Friends of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities" group to stay in close touch with issues affecting MnSCU campuses throughout the state.

Early in the 1997 legislative session, presidents of MnSCU's 36 colleges and universities were asked to suggest names of legislators who have been closely associated with particular campuses or had a long history of supporting higher education. Invitations were sent to these lawmakers to attend periodic update sessions during the session.

Despite a snowstorm that closed schools and caused travel difficulties, 44 lawmakers showed up for the first "friends" session recently (click here to see list).

Serving as co-chairs of the informal organization are Sen. Steve Morse, DFL-Dakota; Sen. David Kleis, R-St. Cloud; Rep. John Dorn, DFL-Mankato, and Rep. Hilda Bettermann, R-Brandon.

John Kaul, deputy to the chancellor for government relations, said additional legislators will join the group for its next session.

"This shows there is a real reservoir of support for MnSCU in the Legislature," Kaul said. "The 'Friends' organization gives us an opportunity to talk with them at length about what MnSCU needs to succeed, and to hear from legislators how the system is perceived in their home areas."

Kaul said the idea for the "Friends of MnSCU" group came from Sen. Morse, Rep. Dorn and Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr., DFL-Winona.