Posted: August 20, 2001

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Mary Choate, Chair of the MnSCU Board of Trustees, announces appointment of business leaders

Two prominent Minnesota business leaders, Vance Opperman and Glen Taylor, will co-chair a new Citizens Advisory Commission being formed to help guide a strategic plan for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

Mary Choate, chair of the MnSCU Board of Trustees, announced today that the two have agreed to lead the commission to advise Chancellor James H. McCormick, on behalf of the board, on the strategic direction for the future of public higher education in the state.

"We are honored to have two individuals of this caliber to lead this effort," Choate said. "That they are willing to bring their great knowledge, experience and commitment to education to this process is something for which we are extremely grateful."

The creation of a Citizens Advisory Commission is a key part of the chancellor's first-year work plan, which the Board of Trustees unanimously approved in July. The 25 to 30 members of the commission are to be named by mid-September. Members will include business and labor leaders, elected officials and government leaders, tribal communities and communities of color, and rural, suburban and urban Minnesota residents, as well as MnSCU students, faculty and trustees.

Opperman, who received his law degree from the University of Minnesota, is president and chief executive officer of Key Investment, Inc., and former president of West Publishing Company. He is owner and general counsel of Minnesota Law & Politics magazine. In 2000, he served as chair of the MnSCU Search Advisory Committee in a search that ultimately led to the appointment of McCormick as chancellor.

"As the largest institution of higher education in the state of Minnesota, MnSCU needs to have the active input of the entire Minnesota community," Opperman said. "There has never been a time when business and academic partnerships were more important. Job creation and career preparation will be more important in this century than in the 20th century. MnSCU has the potential to be the 21st century institution to successfully meet this challenge for the state of Minnesota. I am looking forward to being a co-chair of the commission, operating under the supervision and advice of the Office of the Chancellor."

Taylor is CEO and chairman of the board of Taylor Corporation, headquartered in Mankato with more than 70 operating divisions around the world. He owns the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball team and the Minnesota Lynx WNBA women's basketball team.

He is a former state legislator, serving in the Senate from 1980 to 1990, and was assistant minority leader and minority leader during his tenure.

Taylor is a graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato, one of the 34 MnSCU institutions.

"Both as a businessperson and legislator, I always felt proud of our educational system," Taylor said. "It is one of Minnesota's great strengths.

"Nevertheless, we shouldn't ever be satisfied, but continually look for improvements. I'm confident that in these difficult and fast-moving times, we can find opportunities to provide a better, more efficient way to prepare our state's higher education students. I look forward to the challenge given to our commission."

Chancellor McCormick, speaking in Grand Rapids at a planning conference of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said he expects the commission to begin meeting this fall and to forward recommendations to him by spring 2002.

"I will be asking the Citizens Advisory Commission to complete a daunting task as they help us examine the major issues facing public higher education and MnSCU in the future," McCormick said. "With the leadership of Glen Taylor and Vance Opperman, I am confident that the commission will not hesitate to tackle the tough issues."