Statewide Category Archive: Education
Middle and high school students from around the world are sharing their clean water science projects via video chat this week.
The WaterRediscover initiative is coordinated by North Dakota State University. Seven teams from Bangladesh, India, Saudi Arabia, West Fargo, N.D., and Hudson, Wis., gave 15-minute presentations May 15 on how they designed, fabricated and tested water treatment and wastewater recycling technology.
NDSU Assistant Professor Achintya Bezbaruah, whoi coordinates the international science project, said it helps connect students who are interested in science and math.
The students work with very little money, so they use materials that are readily available where they live. Some American students went dumpster diving to find plastic bottles and other materials for their project.
International students often believe Americans have unlimited resources, Bezbaruah said, and they are surprised to learn students in the United States face economic constraints.
Bezbaruah said the project also exposes students to cultural differences they might not experience firsthand until they are older.
The University also looks at the project as a recruiting tool. It's important to develop the NDSU brand in countries like India and Bangladesh, Bezbaruah said, because the university wants to recruit the best American and international students to study science and math.
This is the second year the WaterRediscover project has been held.
Bezbaruah hopes to expand the program to more countries in the future.
Scott Olson will officially be inaugurated as the president of Winona State University this afternoon.
Olson, who begins his tenure as the institution's 15th president, was appointed to the presidency on May 16, 2012, upon the retirement of Judith A. Ramaley.
Prior to joining WSU, he served as Provost, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, and Professor of Communication Studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Olson has published numerous books and journal articles and served on various community boards in southern Minnesota. In 2004, he produced an award-winning documentary film about digital learning.
The inauguration takes place at 2 p.m. in McCown Gymnasium and will be followed by a reception at the Integrated Wellness Complex Gymnasium. Both are open to the public.
The university received more than 60 applications for the position, which became available when Ramaley announced last August it would be her final year with the university. Ramaley was the first female president at WSU.
(Photo courtesy of Winona State University)
I missed the annual Minnesota Chinese Students and Scholars Association New Year celebration, but MPR's Jeff Thompson was there and captured this wonderful image of University of Minnesota junior Sabrina Han as she rehearsed a dance before the celebration at Coffman Union in Minneapolis this past Sunday.
A few days earlier I had a chance to chat with three U of M students from China, and on at least one front - language - it was a humbling experience. Their English is darn good, a lot better than my (non-existent) Chinese, due in part, they explained, to China's policy of beginning English language instruction in elementary school.
You can hear more this afternoon during a new episode of Minnesota Sounds and Voices during All Things Considered about the U's very long - 99 years - relationship with China. Nearly 10,000 Chinese students and scholars have attended the Minnesota land grant institution's campuses.
This year there are nearly 3,800 Chinese students and scholars at Minnesota's private and public colleges and universities. Many are top students, who scored well on their high-stakes college entrance exams in China, but found there's no room at their preferred Chinese universities.
When they look at what's available abroad they discover that non-resident college tuition, books, room and board costs here are many times more expensive than in China. Despite that, they attend U.S. schools because the U. S. higher education system, for all its problems, is still regarded as one of the best in the world.
My report looks at the experience of 93-year-old Yong Jiang. He attended the U more than 60 years ago, got his PhD in mechanical engineering and then returned to China where he was a top professor for 43 years.
The reasons for Minnesota's long higher education relationship with China are many, including railroad magnate James J. Hill's preoccupation with establishing closer ties, the strength of the state's farming and industrial economy and much more.
Whatever the reason, Professor Jiang is delighted that his grand daughter returns to Minnesota this fall for grad school at Minnesota State University - Mankato. His daughter got her graduate degree at St. Cloud State University. That means three generations of Jiang's family have higher ed connections to Minnesota.
The University of North Dakota announced today that it has formed the nation's first Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Compliance Committee.
Phyllis Johnson, UND vice president for research and economic development said the panel will operate much like an Institutional Review Board that's charged with protecting human subjects involved in medical research.
"One of the big concerns that IRBs look at with human studies is invasion of privacy and security of private data," Johnson said. "These are similar to the issues that we're dealing with here with [unmanned aircraft]. Very often with a law enforcement application, you cannot identify necessarily the individuals and get their consent beforehand. That does not mean that we should not take some time to talk about this."
The committee plans to get ahead of federal regulators on the issues of privacy and other social concerns regarding the use of unmanned aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration is working on regulations for unmanned aviation systems, but the process has been delayed several times. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has indicated privacy concerns are a key issue for the agency.
All unmannned aircraft research at UND will now need to be reviewed and approved by the committee.
The committee will consider ethical implications of the research when deciding to approve, deny or modify the research request.
The Research Compliance Committee meets for the first time on Friday.
A new optical data connection now links university researchers between Seattle and Chicago.
The 10 gigabit connection links researchers and educators in Wisconsin,Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington.
The connection, called Northern Wave, will ultimately link to other high speed networks in Seattle and Chicago, potentially allowing researchers around the world to more easily collaborate on projects.
The project also connects with Boreas, a high speed network linking the University of Minnesota, the University of Iowa, Wisconsin- Madison, and Iowa State University.
North Dakota State University's Marc Wallman headed up the project. He called the Northern Wave project "a major milestone" for researchers.
The project was built with grants from the National Science Foundation. Researchers are expected to start using the system this month.
"Northern Wave brings a significant new capacity to network through improved communication facilities as well as easy exchange of data for initiating collaborations with other institutions," said Kalpana Katti, North Dakota State University Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering who works on nanoscale research. "This is especially important for the establishment of large competitive research centers."
Posted at 11:30 AM on June 12, 2012
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Education
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees and Chancellor Steven Rosenstone on Wednesday will announce the new president-elect and interim president of Winona State University.
The Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. An audio stream of the meeting will be available online.
The president-elect and interim president will then meet with the public at 2 p.m. at WSU's Science Lab Atrium in Winona; and a 5 p.m. at the University Center in Rochester.
One of the candidates is Anne Huot, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the College at Brockport, State University of New York (SUNY) since 2007.
The other candidate is Scott R. Olson, who has served as provost and vice president for academic and student affairs and professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato since 2003.
A third semifinalist, Jem Spectar of the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, withdrew his candidacy on April 20.
WSU's next president will earn at least $160,000 annually, according to MnSCU officials. The university received more than 60 applications for the position, which became available when Judith Ramaley announced last August this will be her final year with the university. Ramaley is the 14th president at WSU and the first female president.
The new president is expected to begin July 1.
(Photos courtesy of Winona State University)
Three semifinalists are competing to replace departing Winona State University President Judith Ramaley.
The candidates will visit Winona State University this week and next to meet faculty, staff, students and community members.
One of the three semifinalists is Anne Huot, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the College at Brockport, State University of New York (SUNY) since 2007.
Another candidate is Scott R. Olson, who has served as provost and vice president for academic and student affairs and professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato since 2003.
The third semifinalist is Jem Spectar, who has served as president and professor of the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown since 2007.
WSU's next president will earn at least $160,000 annually, according to MnSCU officials. The university received more than 60 applications for the position, which became available when Ramaley announced last August this will be her final year with the university. Ramaley is the 14th president at WSU and the first female president.
A special Search Advisory Committee chaired by St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter recommended the three candidates to MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.
Rosenstone will select the final list and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who will make the final choice at the May 16 meeting. The new president is expected to begin July 1.
(Photos courtesy of Winona State University)
Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatmas Gandhi, spoke at Ely Memorial High School about his grandfather and about peace through nonviolence. The event was was organized by the school's student council and funded by the students through grant writing and donations.
Gandhi spoke about living with his grandfather before his assassination, growing up in the village of Durban in South Africa during the Apartheid and his thoughts about bullying, environmentalism and women's issues through nonviolence.
From the Duluth News Tribune:
"This is an once-in-a-lifetime experience," Ely Memorial High School Student Council member Berit Schurke said. "It's truly an honor that he's taking time to speak to us about ways we can each assist in changing the world through nonviolent means for social justice. It's something that is a life-changer."
Nanotechnology can be a bit confusing. Just what is it?
Essentially, science, engineering and technology development -- on a very small scale.
To increase public awareness, The Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network is sponsoring a nationwide, week-long public outreach and education effort March 24 to April 1.
Smaller than a virus, Nano particles used in manufacturing and construction are carefully designed to have unique characteristics. Nano materials are found in everything from high-tech electronics to the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the sunscreen we slather on, and medical treatments for diseases like cancer.
Nano research will likely save lives in the future. But some are concerned that the technology could harm human health and the environment.
One thing is certain, nanotech is here and rapidly growing.
Do you know what a nanotube is? How about a fullerene? A buckyball? All are components of nano manufacturing.
For the nano education campaign researchers and science educators are creating exhibits and hands on learning opportunities at more than 200 science museums and universities across the country.
Here's a list of the places in Minnesota participating in Nano Days:
Headwaters Science Center
Duluth Children's Museum
Dakota County Technical College
Science Museum of Minnesota
The Bakken Museum
Minnesota Children's Museum
To find locations in other states, check out this list on the NISE website.
Starting this summer, the nursing programs at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College in Bemidji will join forces under a combined Bemidji School of Nursing.
While the two programs will come together under one administration umbrella, NTC will continue to provide practical nursing and two-year registered nursing programs, while BSU will continue to offer the four-year, baccalaureate nursing program.
Dr. Jeanine Gangeness served as the chair of BSU's nursing program. She'll now serve as the Bemidji School of Nursing's founding dean.
"The goal is to have efficient, high quality education and to have a seamless transition from one program to the other," Gangeness said.
Gangeness says the school will help streamline the process of setting up clinical training sites off campus, and will also make the accreditation process more efficient.
For students, Gangeness says, it will mean an easier process of moving from the two-year into the four-year program, which is a growing trend.
Minnesota students are participating this year for the first time in what organizers call the largest robotics competition in the world.
On Friday, 22 teams of about six students each from schools across northern Minnesota will compete at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls for a chance to go to the VEX Robotics World Championship later this spring in California.
There are competitions for middle school and high school age students.
By creating a robot to complete a specific task, the students learn about mechanical engineering, sensors, computer programming and problem solving, said NCTC Electronics Technology instructor Andrew Dahlen.
"These are things students don't have a lot of exposure to but really should," he said. "The aim of this entire initiative is to grow student interest in technology."
Last weekend, 23 teams from southern Minnesota met in St. Cloud. A team from Rockville, Minn., won that round of competition making them eligible for the championship in California where thousands of students from more than 20 countries compete.
The competition happens on a 12' by 12' mat. Students must move the robot around obstacles to complete tasks like picking up balls or barrels and putting them in a container. The teams receive robotics kits at the beginning of the year, and work for several months on the design.
The idea behind the competition is to increase student interest in science, technology and math.
The event is funded by the 360 Center for Applied Engineering and Manufacturing and corporate sponsors.
University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley sent a memo across campus this week outlining the process for ending use of the Fighting Sioux nickname.
The memo follows a decision last month by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to sign a law allowing the state's flagship university to shed its 81-year-old nickname.
North Dakota tribes are divided over the nickname use. The Spirit Lake nation voted to support the use of the name and logo, while the Standing Rock tribal council declined to bring the issue to a vote of residents. Under NCAA rules, both tribes needed to support use of the Fighting Sioux nickname in order for UND to continue using it.
Kelley says much of the initial Fighting Sioux logo removal should be done by the end of December. Most Fighting Sioux images will be removed from the university's website, according to the memo.
"The University will also remove nickname Images and verbiage from University owned facilities, except for their use in historical or similar applications, such as championship banners."It's not clear what the process will be at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, since the facility is not owned by the university. But the agreement with the NCAA to end use of the nickname allows many Fighting Sioux images to remain in the arena:
University athletes will still use Fighting Sioux gear for a few months. For example, Kelley says new uniforms for the men's hockey team won't be available until February, so the team will finish the season with their current uniforms. They won't be able to wear the Fighting Sioux logo during tournament play.
Fighting Sioux gear also will be available to the public for some time:"Licensed vendors will be allowed to produce apparel and merchandise with the Fighting Sioux name and logo through March 31, 2012, and will have until June 30, 2012, to sell off their stock. Retailers will be able to sell Fighting Sioux apparel and merchandise as long as supplies last, but there will be no more production of Fighting Sioux apparel and merchandise under existing licenses after March 31, 2012."
Under North Dakota state law, the university can't adopt a new logo or nickname before 2015.
There are still legal cases, both to save the nickname and eliminate it, making their way through the courts.
Posted at 11:38 AM on August 19, 2011
by Dan Gunderson
Filed under: Education
Courtesy of the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota
The opening of a new school in Fargo is generating a larger than usual buzz in the community.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will attend a dedication ceremony Sunday for the school, named for U.S. District Judge Ronald Davies, known for his role during a key moment in U.S. History.
Born in Crookston, Minn., Davies was appointed a federal judge in North Dakota by President Eisenhower in 1955. In 1957 he was assigned to temporary duty in Arkansas, and found himself in the middle of the school integration case for which he is best remembered.
Local officials and Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus were trying to stop nine black students from enrolling in Little Rock Central High.
Davies ordered Faubus to withdraw National Guard troops the governor called to prevent the students from entering the school. A few days later, police surrounded the high school as a large crowd gathered.
President Eisenhauer responded by federalizing the entire Arkansas National Guard and sending members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division to Arkansas to protect the black students.
At least two of the Little Rock Nine will be in Fargo on Sunday to take part in public conversation about their experiences.
The ceremony also will focus on Davies, who sat on the federal bench for 30 years. He died in 1996.
I had an unexpected opportunity to have lunch with Judge Davies when he was well into his 80's.
I recall he loved to tell stories, had a sharp wit and a twinkle in his eye.
A really interesting competition is happening this week in Grand Forks, N.D. Its the 6th
International Aerial Robotics Competition, featuring 13 teams of students from around the world
built micro flying machines.
Students are competing based on a real world scenario. This year, the teams must fly into a secure building and retrieve a small computer drive filled with sensitive information.
The students spend up to a year designing and building small robotic aircraft from scratch, in hopes of successfully completing the mission.
Sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles International, this year's competition takes place at the Betty Englestad arena at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
Organizers say no currently existing micro aircraft can perform this years mission, but they expect one of the teams new designs to succeed and grab the $20,000 first prize.
What these students learn from the competition might well influence the next generation of military micro unmanned aircraft.
The competition wraps up on Friday.
A former Red Wing High School student who claims a Homecoming event was emotionally painful, had good reason to wait two years to sue for race discrimination, her lawyer said.
Former student Quera Pruitt, who is African-American, claims officials in the mostly-white school didn't prevent students from holding a non-sanctioned event called "Wigger Day" in 2009, even though such events had previously occurred. (Read the lawsuit here)
'Wigger' is a play on a racial slur, and is slang for a white person who dresses and acts in stereotypical ways associated with African-American culture. For example, Pruitt claims in the lawsuit that white students dressed in baggy clothes and flashed gang signs.
But why wait two years to file suit?
For one, lawyer Joshua Williams said, Pruitt suffered from depression as a result of the event.
"She was pretty down, and it's only now that she feels she's in a position psychologically where she can engage and proceed with litigation," he said.
But even more important, Williams said, is that Pruitt did not receive a finding from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights until June 3. That finding found 'probable cause' that unfair discrimination occurred.
"Now that we also have a probable cause determination, we believe that bolsters our case. We're really in a good position to move forward," Williams said.
District leaders are not granting interviews to the media on the matter. Instead, they've released a statement, which reads:
"Independent School District #256, Red Wing, Minnesota has been and continues to be committed to providing an education to its students that is free from discrimination and harassment based upon race or otherwise. The district denies the allegations that it has created a racially hostile environment and looks forward to meeting these allegations in court. Since this concerns pending litigation, the district has no further comment at this time."
According to state figures, Red Wing High School had an enrollment of 879 during the 2009-2010 school year. Of those, 26 students (3 percent) were African-American and 779 (89 percent were white.
Posted at 7:30 AM on June 10, 2011
by Michael Caputo
Filed under: Education
The Insight Now online debate last week on college enrollment and standards raises some interesting questions: Are there really viable alternatives to the classic four-year degree? Has the cost of college made the liberal arts degree a luxury? Has high school put too many students too far behind?
The road less traveled?
The team from the National Association of Scholars, Ashley Thorne and Peter Wood, took one side of our debate, and argued that herding more students into four-year schools won't improve the falling performance of higher education in the United States.
They said students need alternatives to the four-year college and pointed to an unusual example in the news, the offer by PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel to pay young people $100,000 to chase a business dream instead of going to college. They gave other examples of young people who didn't pursue a college diploma, like Wisconsin's Brian Crave.
But the PayPal CEO's offer goes to just 24 students. And how many students would be willing to seek an apprenticeship as Crave has?
Few alternatives to a bachelor's degree
Well there is the two-year degree. But Brad Horras, a Brooklyn Park musician with a Master's Degree, says there's a stigma attached to two-year schools that needs to be removed.
There are for-profit schools. And while that's a growing education sector - it's largely for the older, returning student. And news on how the Obama adminstration will require more accountability (read, jobs after graduation) from these schools hasn't helped their reputation.
Instead of looking at alternatives to the four-year track, the United States should improve the performance of the prevailing system, said Kevin Carey policy director for EducationSector, an independent think tank. He differs with Thorne and Wood. The current U.S. college approach is still strong, Carey argued, so strong that it is being replicated by nations around the world.
Improving that system, rather than "a rollback of our nation's historic commitment to college access," is Carey's answer. Is it yours?
Liberal Arts - A wasted degree?
"I believe most people who go to college do so with vocational intent," said Jon Blumenthal, director of education for the Minneapolis Business College, a for-profit institution.Some might dismiss Blumenthal's comment as just a way to sell the for-profit college approach.
But students and parents who weighed in on the debate also supported the idea that college must primarily prepare young people for a career.
Wolfe Molitor, who works at the Minnesota Medical Foundation at the University of Minnesota, said he's been saving money for years to put his daughter, now 11, through college. Molitor wrote:
"I am going to push her toward getting a degree that will certify her in a profession. I will do everything in my power to make sure she doesn't waste her life - and our money - on a liberal arts degree."
Another participant said the bigger financial burden of a college degree has "made a liberal arts education a true luxury."
So has the liberal arts degree become a relic, a pursuit of the past?
Carol Ford of Milan, who has worked in the University of Minnesota system for 20 years, , said the trend away from the liberal arts degree worries her. She sees the liberal arts path as one that produces adults who can "sort through the info-muck ... to analyze the political issues of the day." In other words, a liberal arts degree makes students complete citizens.
Ford concluded: "I am ashamed at our growing disinterest and disrespect for liberal arts education."
These are strong views on the worth of the liberal arts degree. Maybe a new line of pursuit should be: "What is the liberal arts degree good for?"
A word on motivation
Both debaters wrote about the growing need for remedial education. Thorne and Wood decried the national cost of remedial education, estimated at $2.3 billion annually. Carey said the nation can't turn a blind eye to the preparation needs of students as 34 percent of students at public colleges enrolled in at least one remedial course, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Underlying the remedial education issue is a serious problem: More high school students don't seem prepared for higher education.
Nicole Erickson, who works at Capella University in Minneapolis talked about being a teaching assistant at a "large public university". What struck her was the sense of entitlement that students had in the class:
"I got the distinct impression that they were only there because they had to be there. Many of those students acted as though college was a pay-for-service kind of set-up. Almost as though once they paid for tuition, they then expected the product -- a degree -- to be given to them with only a basic level of hoop-jumping the their part."
Erickson said that instilling discipline and motivation must come before college, in high school.
That prompted Kim Farris-Berg to add in a word about student motivation. She's part of the Citizens League's Student Speak Out project, which is exploring what motivate young people to excel. Farris-Berg wondered if the solution to higher education preparation should be "rooted in what motivates them" to achieve.
Look over the debate and find your own questions to pursue.
Concordia College in Moorhead broke ground Thursday morning for a $13 million school of business.
The Offutt School of Business is expected to be completed by the fall of 2012. The school is named for Ronald D. Offutt, the chairman and CEO of R.D. Offutt Co. and RDO Equipment Co.
Offutt was the lead donor in a $50 million campaign to fund the new business school.
Concordia also recently announced the Business School will be host to the West Central Small Business Development Center in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The center will help small businesses in a nine county area of west central Minnesota with counseling and training.
In a special preview today, 22 architecture students at North Dakota State University architecture will unveil their designs for a passive energy home they will build at this year's Minnesota State Fair.
Passive houses can achieve energy savings of 80 percent or greater.
The structure will be designed to be the size of a four person cabin you might find in the northern Minnesota woods. According to Design Build Studio instructor Malini Srivastava, it will be heated by the equivalent of six light bulbs.
Passive homes take advantage of passive heat sources such as the heat generated by its occupants, the waste heat from appliances, passive heat from the earth, and solar heat.
Srivastava said the student project will be the first passive house to be displayed at the Minnesota State Fair. It will be part of the Eco-Experience exhibit.
The structure will be built to meet international passive house performance criteria.
Students in the Design Build program at NDSU will plan the structure over the summer and build it at the state fair this fall.
The students will show their designs from 1:30 to 8 p.m. in Renaissance Hall, 650 NP Avenue, Fargo.
Rochester Public Schools officials want your help.
As they develop a profile for the next superintendent, school officials are holding several sessions to get the community's input on what they'd like to see in the new leader.
The next session will be Monday, March 14. Residents, parents and students are encouraged to attend.
Officials with School Exec Connect, a superintendent search firm, will assist with the meeting and the overall search to find a superintendent.
The meeting begins at 4 p.m. at Century High School. Similar community input sessions have been held recently at other Rochester schools.
Earlier this year, the Rochester School Board selected veteran education administrator Jackie Silver to temporarily replace Superintendent Romain Dallemand, who left the district in January. Silver is expected to serve approximately six months until the district hires a permanent replacement.
Dallemand left Rochester to become the superintendent of Bibb County Schools in Macon, Ga. He became superintendent of the Rochester Public Schools in 2007 after working as a school administrator in Connecticut and Florida.
As the search continues, school officials are encouraging residents to fill out a survey about what the community wants the superintendent to be.
Officials will post a summary of the survey results on the district's website after March 14.
School board members and School Exec Connect officials will interview candidates in early May and hold a special session on May 24 to vote on the new superintendent's contract.
The new superintendent is expected to start July 1.
Rescuers used a boat like the one above to save two stranded fishermen on Lake Superior. It looks much more serene than the depiction of the rescue. Massive waves broke apart ice which led the fishermen to think this was the end.
MPR: Wick was about 500 yards from shore when cracks suddenly appeared. He and Popko made their way shoreward as heavy swells below the ice expanded the fractures. But as they jumped from one ice chunk to another they ran out of steppingstones.They rode out the storm on separate floes while waves raged as high as 12 feet.
What's a guy gotta do to get a doctor around here?
The healthcare challenges in Virginia are similar to those around rural America with no easy solutions and as Mayor Steve Peterson stated candidly, "This is really a difficult situation, If we as city leaders do nothing, what is the outcome? I fear a lot worse for all."
Join the conversation and let us know: How would you save a struggling hospital in rural Minnesota?
Police Chief has a different question in Virginia
One of the biggest mysteries Virginia police chief Dana Waldron is trying to get to the bottom of right now is why he's on leave. The 32-year veteran of the Virginia police force tells the Dultuh New Tribune:
"I suspect some things, but I'm dumbfounded to be honest with you. ... Not that relations haven't been strained here lately."
Waldron was sent a letter a letter late in the week that indicated that a complaint of unbecoming conduct" had been filed against him. He still says he's baffled about what spurred the complaint.
Economic indicators say yes, no and maybe
Interest rates continue to stay low, unemployment is on the decline and job outlook appears to be picking up. But local governments, and the good people who pay the taxes that support those governments, continue to be dogged with serious budget problems. Some schools are heading toward extracurricular activities for only those who can afford them. As the growth in the Minnesota Today
Michael Olson is online editor for Minnesota Today. His weekly news roundups will appear on Friday.
Reality is beginning to sink in for students and staff at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College. School officials announced 10 percent budget cuts on the two campuses totaling $5 million.
The cuts will include the elimination of 50 jobs, including about 40 faculty positions from 18 academic programs.
"We simply have too many majors. We can't afford it," said Richard Hanson, the new president of BSU and NTC.
Hanson's plan calls for elimination of the environmental landscaping and massage therapy programs at NTC, and the art history program at BSU. Another BSU program is on the chopping block, but Hanson hasn't publicly announced which one.
In addition, BSU will lose its men's indoor and outdoor track and field programs.
Hanson describes the plan as a "recalibration" of resources. Some emerging programs in science and engineering will actually see more funding, as will the Native American studies program.
The loss of jobs will be tough for the community of Bemidji. But the cuts aren't surprising, either, given the state's $6.2 billion budget gap. What's yet to be seen is whether the cutbacks will impact student enrollment, which has been on the rise the past few years.
Posted at 10:58 AM on January 10, 2011
by Elizabeth Baier
Filed under: Education
The Rochester School Board has selected a veteran education administrator to temporarily replace Superintendent Romain Dallemand, who leaves the district this month.
Jackie Silver, executive director of the district's Community Education Program, will become interim superintendent on Jan. 15. She is expected to serve approximately six months until the district hires a permanent replacement.
Dallemand is leaving Rochester to become the superintendent of Bibb County Schools in Macon, Ga. He became superintendent of the Rochester Public School District in 2007 after working as a school administrator in Connecticut and Florida.
Silver was one of five candidates interviewed for the position.
Officials said they they picked Silver because she is is a good communicator and has financial management expertise. They also cited her commitment to the district's Five-Year Strategic Plan and efforts to engage the staff and the community.
Minnesota State University Moorhead is celebrating today. Geoscience Professor
Russ Colson won the 2010 U.S. Master's Universities and Colleges Professor of the year.
MSUM officials say Colson is the first Minnesota professor to win this award since it was created by the Carnegie Foundation in 1981. In addition to recognition, the winner receives $5,000.
Here's what the Foundation lists as criteria for the award- "Extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching, determined by excellence in the following four areas: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and current and former undergraduate students."
Carnegie says MSUM Professor Russ Colson Colson "strives to be both coach and player and to create a forum in which he and his students become colleagues in discovery."
The Carnegie Foundation also recognizes state professors of the year. Timothy Benson of Lake Superior College in Duluth gets the 2010 Minnesota state award.
Photo courtesy MSUM
The University of Minnesota Crookston is using a $550,000 federal grant to create a Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies.
Scheduled to be up and running early next year, the center will aim to connect experts at UMC with entrepreneurs in northwest Minnesota.
The federal funding is one of a dozen earmarks requested by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson according to a Washington D.C. watchdog group.
In a recent report, (PDF) the Small Business Administration says entrepreneurs and small businesses create 65 percent of all new jobs. There are some notable examples of entrepreneurs in northwest Minnesota. Thief River Falls based Digi-Key founder Ron Stordahl turned a pile of electronic parts into an international company that employs more than 2,000.
In Karlstad, MATTRACKS started with a youg boy's idea sketched on a napkin and now sells it's rubber tracks for vehicles to the Department of Defense and users around the world.
Professor Sue Brorson heads the business department at UMC. She says the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies will "find innovative ways to aid entrepreneurs." The university will focus on "educational leadership, applied research, and insightful consulting".
UMCsays a website will be up soon and the CRES will start offering services to northwest Minnesota residents in January.
More bad news for the Cass Lake-Bena School District. The district's interim superintendent, Diane Lehse, died in a head-on car crash Sunday afternoon on Highway 34 southwest of Walker, according to the State Patrol.
Lehse, 66, was hired by the district in August to replace superintendent Carl Remmers, who resigned after he was charged with groping a 17-year-old boy at a Bemidji hotel. Lehse, of Menaga, came out of retirement to take on the interim job.
Authorities say Lehse was heading east in the westbound lane when her 2010 Ford Fusion collided head-on with a semi-truck. Two occupants of the truck were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The Cass Lake-Bena School Board reportedly met in an emergency session Monday morning to address Lehse's death.
The St. Cloud school district is reopening a program aimed to reduce the number of suspensions among middle and high school students next month, the St. Cloud Times reports.
The Times quotes the director of student services and special education saying that the district cannot close its achievement gap when students are not in school.
The program, called Community Accountability and Prevention (CAAP), allows sixth through tenth graders to keep up with their school work, meet with counselors to work on behavioral issues and avoid future suspensions, and meet community service requirements.
The district dropped the CAAP program several years ago because of budget cuts. School district officials decided to reopen the program when they looked at the district's suspension numbers and decided they needed to reduce those numbers: 880 suspensions involving 537 students.
The district is renting a space off campus specifically to accommodate this program. Staff will drive students from their schools each day and take them to the program's location.
The program will cost $100,000 a year to staff a teacher, a counselor, and a behavioral specialist, plus rental costs for the space, about $15,000 per year according to the Times article.
Earlier this week, university president Earl H. Potter III announced his decision to close the bachelor degree programs in aviation and general biology and the masters degree program in geography.
In a letter to campus colleagues, Potter wrote:
"The programs included in this category are not sustainable in their current programmatic and organizational structure and/or do not have sufficient student demand and/or market need to justify additional investment. As a result, they have been identified for closure. We will continue to offer courses in these areas to facilitate the progress of the existing students toward graduation. We will however suspend any new admissions into these programs."
The St. Cloud Times reports that the aviation program cut is "another blow to the viability of St. Cloud Regional Airport."
Last year Delta Airlines canceled air service on the heels of major airport improvements. And the aviation program, according to the newspaper, accounts for 25 percent of airport activity.
An airline industry group has expressed interest in supporting the aviation program. Potter is in conversations with the group. Potter, as president, has the right to review his decision to close the program if an opportunity to support the program arises.
These academic program cuts are part of an effort to assess "the rigor and relevance" of the university's programs, said provost and vice president for academic affairs Devinder Malhotra.
Malhotra said university officials are considering "what programs makes most sense for us to have, and what programs are sustainable, and in what ways can we re-organize the programmatic structure in itself so that it becomes more sustainable over the long haul from a resource standpoint." Malhotra said the university began conversations to appraise programs three years ago.
This appraisal process is also taking place as the university goes through a massive reorganization effort. The university is facing an approximate $14 million deficit for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins next year in July.
The deficit stems in part from an uncertainty about state appropriations and in part to the fact that stimulus money--about $4.5 million to $5 million--that supported the university for the past two years will no longer be available.
Malhotra said university officials are reviewing all of the academic programs and the units that support them.
"So almost all of the programmatic and organizational activities of the university are under review to understand how we can become more focused, more responsive, and a more student-centered institution," said Malhotra. "And in that context, it helps us also then to deal with budget issues."
The university will continue to support several programs at their current levels, or "enhance" support, while it will suspend admission to other programs until those programs reorganize their curriculum to improve their marketability and cost-effectiveness.
Photo courtesy NDSU
North Dakota State University (NDSU) is getting a $5 million federal grant to help build a state of the art nanotechnology research center.
It's another expansion of the Red River Valley Research Corridor. Since 2002,
North Dakota U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan has helped steer nearly $700 million in federal grants to the research corridor. RRVRC officials estimate the research corridor has created more than 10,000 jobs since 2002 and is expected to add another 10,000 jobs by 2015.
Nanoscale Science is one of the focus areas for the Red River Valley Research Corridor. Other research areas are biotech, aerospace and agriculture.
A 2008 study by the Milken Institute showed the North Dakota research industry is the fastest-growing in the nation.
North Dakota ranked 31st among states but moved up 14 places while Minnesota fell from 8th to 11th in the rankings.
The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is a step closer to building a tribally owned radio station. The tribe has been awarded $238,000 from the Department of Commerce National Telecommunications Infrastructure Administration.
The money will be used to purchase studio equipment and a transmitter for radio station KOJB-FM. This will be the first time Leech Lake will have a radio station that will cover the entire reservation.
"We have been working for five years to make this station a reality," said Brad Walhof, who spearheaded the project for the tribe.
Walhof says the goal is to turn the station into an important tool for preserving the Ojibwe language. There are very few people who speak the language, and most of them are elders.
"We will broadcast programming to preserve the Ojibwe language and culture, as well as programming that will strengthen our ties and friendships with surrounding communities," he said.
Another northern Minnesota radio station received big money from the NTIA. Northern Community Radio, which operates KAXE-FM in Grand Rapids, was awarded $450,000 from the agency.
Organizers plan to use the money to build radio station KBXE-FM, which will be licensed in Bagley, and serve a large area of northwest Minnesota. The station's studios and offices will be in downtown Bemidji.
Northern Community Radio will provide local news, weather, sports, music and community and cultural information to the Bemidji and Bagley region.(1 Comments)
Photo courtesy Minnesota Agri Growth Council
Concordia College in Moorhead announced today its business school will be named for agri-businessman and alumnus Ronald Offutt, who made a sizable, but undisclosed gift to the college.
Offutt is chairman and CEO of R.D. Offutt Company and RDO Equipment, and also chair of the Concordia board of regents.
The college says it's raised $37 million of a $50 million campaign to fund the business school. Concordia officials aren't saying how much Offutt contributed, but they it's the largest single contribution in school history.
"This is the kind of impact gift that shapes the history of an institution like ours." says Interim President Paul Dovre.
The college is spending about $13 million to remodel an existing building for the business school.
The Offutt School of Business is expected to be open when classes start in 2012.
A team from the University of North Dakota -- including three students from Minnesota -- is headed to Australia for an international unmanned aircraft competition.
The Australian international UAV Outback Search and Rescue competition involves using a small unmanned aircraft with cameras to locate "Outback Joe", who's a dummy simulating a person lost in the Australian outback.
When they find "Outback Joe" the team has to drop a liter of water from the aircraft within 100 meters (about 109 yards) of the dummy without hitting him. The winner collects $50,000 (Australian).
No team has been successful in the first three years of the competition.
This year the UND team is one of 11 international teams approved to take part in the competition which starts Monday. Event organizers say it's a way to demonstrate the usefulness of unmanned aircraft.
The UND team will be blogging about the competition.
University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley briefs the campus today at noon about the plan to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname.
The university is ending the Fighting Sioux nickname as part of an agreement with the NCAA.
UND is setting up three task forces. They will be led by university faculty. One is called Honoring History and Traditions.
That group will recommend ways to document the 80 year history of the nickname, look for ways to continue use of the logo in non-athletic settings,
A second committee will recommend communication strategies for "an inclusive and transparent" transition to a new nickname.
A third committee is going to be activated later and will develop the process for choosing a new nickname.
The Fighting Sioux nickname will not be used for UND athletic teams after August 15, 2011.
Heads up, Med City residents.
The University of Minnesota-Rochester may not have a football team or cheerleading squad in its cards for the near future, but it will have a mascot by the end of the week.
The big question looming on students' minds: Will they be cheering for the Falcons, the Griffins, or the Raptors?
UMR officials will reveal the winner at a free event that starts at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the downtown Rochester Peace Plaza.
There will be music, comedy acts, food and prizes for the first 500 people dressed in maroon and gold.
The timing is just right. About 125 aspiring health care professionals arrived in Rochester this week as the still-infant campus' second freshman class. Last spring, about 50 students wrapped up their inaugural year as the school's first undergraduate class.
Children's book author and illustrator Debra Frasier hit the big time in 1991 with "On the Day You Were Born," which has sold more than a million copies.
Her new work mines the sights and sounds of the Minnesota State Fair. "A Fabulous Fair Alphabet" marches through the ABCs with flair and plenty of bold colors.
Frasier, a Florida native who moved to Minnesota in 1984, has become a glutton for the State Fair. She's actually the Minnesota State Fair Foundation's "author-in-residence."
Her alphabet book has garnered some national attention. The New York Times and the Washington Post did blurbs.
The way Frasier brings to life a jaunty Ferris wheel, a sunburst-yellow pitcher of lemonade and a swirling roller coaster will nevertheless whet appetites for summer.
And the Post:
The author is something of a side-show aficionado, as well as a photo junkie. Having taken thousands of pictures of midway signs, she chose a few hundred to assemble into this alphabet-photo collage, a tribute to that most American of institutions: the country fair.
As a companion to the book, Frasier created sheets to encourage kids to write down words they see at the fair. Parents who want to turn the fair into the dreaded "learning experience" for their kids can download the game on Frasier's nifty web site.
This year's State Fair runs from Aug. 26 through Sept. 6.(1 Comments)
Posted at 9:32 AM on June 30, 2010
by Dan Gunderson
Filed under: Education
Paul Dovre succeeds President Pamela Jolicoeur, who died June 9 after suffering a stroke.
Dovre retired in 1999 after serving as Concordia president for 24 years.
"President Jolicoeur had a profound impact on enhancing Concordia's image as a recognized leader in higher education," Dovre says. "My objective will be to sustain the momentum established under her leadership."
The Concordia board of regents plans a national search for a new president.
Posted at 10:15 AM on June 15, 2010
by Bob Ingrassia
Filed under: Education
Nothing like a list of rankings in a popular national magazine to get the masses talking.
Here's a look at how Minnesota schools fared in the latest Newsweek list of 'America's Best High Schools.'
The rankings are based on a simple formula: the number of students who take advance tests at a school divided by the number of seniors who graduate.
Is that a metric that really determines the nation's 'best high schools?' Certainly there's plenty of room for debate on that question. Minnesota schools outside the Twin Cities might have something to say about it, considering none of them ranked high enough to even make Newsweek's list of more than 1,600 schools.
But kudos to Newsweek for explaining in detail how it came up with the rankings. Unlike many "America's Best (fill in the blank)" lists, at least Newsweek developed a formula it can stand behind.