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Community Voices, February 2014

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February, 2014

The past few weeks at SMSU have been filled with of a series of difficult dialogues that are aimed at addressing the budget challenges that are upon us. While we have faced budget challenges in the past, we must look at the changing landscape of education and think about how to do things differently. We are not alone in this challenge. Colleges and Universities across the country are being forced to look at more efficient ways of doing business. It is important that we approach these challenges in a practical manner to ensure that state investments serve our students well and prepare them to be successful as Minnesota’s future leaders and workforce.

We are addressing our budget situation in a way that allows us to survive today and prepares us to thrive tomorrow. We need to protect our ability to invest in our own future. It is important that we work with our partners in both education and the business community to collaborate and be responsive to the workforce needs that are present today and in to the future. We have a history of creativity and resiliency - qualities that will continue to guide us through this next set of challenges and prepare us to grow as an institution while supporting our core values.

The decisions we make are being guided by a set of principles that support our three themes:

- Educational Excellence and Distinctiveness
- Student Learning and Success
- Meaningful Partnerships and Engagement

To ensure that these themes remain at the core of our decision making we are applying a five-part test to the options we consider.

  1. Will this distinguish us from other institutions and help attract potential students?
  2. Will this contribute to the success of our current students and increase retention?
  3. Will this maintain the integrity and enhance the quality of our institution?
  4. Will this generate additional revenue for investing in our future?
  5. If this is something we must do, is this the best way to do it or should we look for other ways to accomplish our goals?

As we move to increased efficiencies, program reductions, and focused investments for targeted growth, we cannot lose focus of the message I shared this fall, “Let us embrace our prairie eye and imagine the many possibilities that we have before us. Let us build a bright future and let us do this together.” We must explore creative ways to partner with our many constituents to enhance the opportunities for our students while increasing the value that we all bring to this special region.

My goal in this process is for the campus community to work together to position our university for future success. We must ensure that the students we are serving today along with the students we are recruiting for tomorrow have the highest quality and most meaningful educational experience possible.

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