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President Jayasuriya Addresses University Community

Published Friday, August 23, 2019

President Jayasuriya
President Jayasuriya

With an underlying theme of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” weaved throughout, SMSU President Kumara Jayasuriya laid out his vision and plans for SMSU at the All-University Address.

In front of a crowded Charter Hall 201, President Jayasuriya said that the University does, indeed, face challenges. They are challenges that, together, can be overcome. “I know we have a winning hand — how we play it is up to us,” he said.

The University’s 10th permanent president took over on July 1 and has been busy getting to know faculty, staff and students. He gave an overview of his personal assessment of the University’s situation, and initiatives he’d like to implement to grow the University in the years to come.

Changing demographics have created greater competition for high school students today, he said, something all faculty and staff should be aware of. A sister institution within Minnesota State recently announced budget cuts, “and if we don’t do something now, we’ll be there next year,” he said. “You can’t do the same things, and expect different results.”

He said “The state of the University is strong.”  

In the near future, he’d like to see enrollment and retention increase, the University’s minority population increase, and the achievement gap decrease.

He listed a number of initiatives that administrators are already working on. They include:

  • The feasibility of offering a cyber security degree
  • Establishing new international partnerships
  • Establish five new partnerships with community colleges in Minnesota, South Dakota or Iowa
  • Implementation of the Mustang Promise. Ninety-nine percent of recent graduates are employed or in grad school. If a student does not find a job, or enroll in grad school six months after graduation, their first semester in an SMSU master’s program will be free
  • Establishment of club hockey and e-sports
  • An emphasis on retention of second-to-third-year students

In addition, President Jayasuriya unveiled, for discussion, his vision of the University: “SMSU will be the most student-centered university in Minnesota and beyond, with a keen focus on innovative teaching, experiential learning, leadership development, and strategic partnerships.”

He also said that the demographics don’t lie — “We will increase diversity and inclusion,” he said. “Everyone should feel comfortable here, and it’s up to all of us to make it happen.”

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