Posted: April 16, 2002

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Group recommends consideration of institutional consolidations in metro area

The Citizens Advisory Commission appointed by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor James H. McCormick presented its report today, including recommendations to seriously consider consolidating some or all of the system's institutions in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Among the 11 recommendations, the report calls for serious consideration of combining Metropolitan State University with Minneapolis Community and Technical College. In addition, it recommends possible consolidation of other state colleges and universities in the Twin Cities area, including the Rochester to St. Cloud corridor, and cites the need for an academic plan to coordinate programs in the region.

The 33-member commission was asked to help guide strategic planning for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, which serves 225,000 students annually in credit-based courses and has 34 two-year and four-year institutions on 53 campuses.

The commission's recommendations address access, workforce and economic development, information technology, metro area academic planning and coordination, and accountability.

"These recommendations will be shared widely with people throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, as well as with our key stakeholders," McCormick said.

"We will consider each of the recommendations carefully in creating our three-year strategic plan this spring. We are deeply grateful for this report and the commission members' commitment to this project."

Commission co-chairs Vance Opperman and Glen Taylor, business leaders in the state, noted the state is experiencing an "undeniable demographic revolution" and urged continuation of Minnesota's tradition of openness and accessibility to higher education opportunity, particularly for new immigrants and first-generation college students from diverse backgrounds.

The commission's 11 recommendations are:

  • Increase the enrollment, retention and graduation rates of all students, especially students of color.
  • Make sure transfer works the way it should.
  • Maintain Minnesota State Colleges and Universities as the most affordable option in the state.
  • Maximize the efficient use of the system's facilities and technology to serve students where they live and work.
  • Make sure programs and services are meeting the learning needs of workers and employers.
  • Lead a systemwide information and technology initiative that coordinates the development and implementation of online courses, programs and services.
  • Evaluate the return on investment of online learning programs and services.
  • Work with the University of Minnesota to meet current and future learning needs of students and the civic, economic development and workplace needs of the metropolitan area, including the Rochester to St. Cloud corridor.
  • Seriously consider consolidating Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Metropolitan State University under a single administrative structure.
  • Determine if other institutions in the metropolitan area should consolidate, either in clusters or as a whole.
  • Develop and implement an accountability system that provides information about student success and measures efficiency, effectiveness and improvement at the system, institutional and program levels.

Opperman presented the report at a public meeting attended by commission members, the Board of Trustees, state college and university presidents, students and senior staff in the Office of the Chancellor.

"The advice of these 33 respected leaders will be very helpful as we chart the future of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities," Board of Trustees Chair Mary Choate said.

McCormick said he expects to submit a strategic plan to the Board of Trustees in May for approval in June. The creation of a Citizens Advisory Commission was a key part of his first-year work plan, which the Board of Trustees unanimously approved in July.

The broad-based commission included legislative leaders, and leaders from business, K-12 and higher education, foundations and government, as well as from communities of color, and urban and rural areas. MnSCU trustees Andrew Boss and Michael Vekich, the former board chair, also served on the commission. Choate was an ex-officio member.

The commission held six monthly meetings and three public forums, in Grand Rapids, Bloomington and Marshall, to gather ideas and information. In addition, input was gathered from across the system and through the chancellor's visits to all 53 campuses.

The commission's charge was as follows:

"The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Citizens Advisory Commission is charged to advise the Chancellor on behalf of the Board of Trustees on strategic directions for the future of public higher education in the state and to:

  • Determine the most critical strategic choices facing public higher education and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities;
  • Examine the issues facing the state and their impact on higher education opportunities for Minnesotans at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities including but not limited to quality, accessibility, affordability, economic development, and citizenship;
  • Recommend what role the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities should play in enhancing the state's economic vitality, quality of life, and the development of the workforce."
  • The full Citizens Advisory Commission report
  • A list of Citizens Advisory Commission members