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Minnesota West now part of 'Charting the Future' effort

WORTHINGTON, Minn. -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College and other Minnesota state colleges and universities are engaged in a collaborative process to develop specific actions to better serve their 435,000 students and communities, strengthen their colleges and universities, and protect their unique character and autonomy.

While Minnesota colleges and universities remain steadfastly committed to their compact with Minnesota, a press release said, "we know too well that our ability to fulfill this promise is at risk -- threatened by challenges that could weaken educational quality and our ability to deliver on our commitments." Among the challenges are:

• Funding shifts that threaten quality, access and affordability;

• Increasing competition that affects enrollments in degree programs, customized training and continuing education;

• Population shifts in which a larger share of Minnesotans are moving to a handful of metropolitan areas; and

• A threat to the authority to govern.

The effort addressing these challenges is "Charting the Future," and the work stems from six recommendations developed with input from more than 5,000 students, faculty and staff that were adopted by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees in November 2013.

Those recommendations include:

• Dramatically increase the success of all learners, especially those in diverse populations traditionally underserved by higher education.

• Develop a collaborative and coordinated academic planning process that advances affordability, transferability, and access to our programs and services across the state.

• Certify student competencies and capabilities, expand pathways to accelerate degree completion through credit for prior learning, and foster the award of competency-based credit and degrees.

• Expand the innovative use of technology to deliver high quality online courses, strengthen classroom instruction and student services, and provide more individualized learning and advising.

• Work together under new models to be the preferred provider of comprehensive workplace solutions through programs and services that build employee skills and solve real-world problems for communities and businesses across the state.

• Redesign financial and administrative models to reward collaboration, drive efficiencies and strengthen the ability to provide access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans.

To act on the recommendations and translate them into specific actions, eight campus-led implementation teams comprised of students, faculty and staff were launched.

Minnesota West's own Worthington and Canby campuses are participating as part of the Charting the Future Gallery Walks, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday on the Worthington campus and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday on the Canby campus.

"We are excited to be hosting the Charting the Future implementation teams on our campuses for the Gallery Walks in November, and invite the public to participate in these events," Minnesota West Interim President Barbara McDonald said. "This year the Leadership Team at Minnesota West is focused on building meaningful collaborations with our K-12 partners and key industry and business partners in efforts to engage students in career pathways that are critical to the region's economic development.

"This is one of many examples of how Minnesota West is responding to Charting the Future initiatives in the areas of student success and workplace solutions."