Thirty-one students took the microphone to welcome Steven Rosenstone to the Capitol rotunda Wednesday morning. Each was from a different college or university of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Many of them said "hello" in a language other than English.
Rosenstone, the new chancellor of the MnSCU system, started work this summer, but Wednesday's installation was a bit of formal ceremony, complete with speeches, music and a medallion bestowed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
In his speech, Rosenstone promised to make MnSCU "the highest value, most affordable option" in the state.
"Keeping the doors open to an extraordinary education -- for all Minnesotans -- will remain our top priority," he said. "We measure our value not by the number of students we turn away, but by the number of students we educate."
Last week, MnSCU announced that for the second fall in a row, enrollment topped 200,000. That's lower than last year, but is still the second-highest number in the system's history.
Rosenstone also pledged to keep MnSCU affordable. "To you, our students, I have heard you on tuition, and I get it."
He called falling state funding for public higher education "the darkest cloud in the educational sky." State funding per student has dropped 48 percent since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, MnSCU numbers show.
"People across Minnesota have shared with me concern that this trend is pricing students out of college, and eventually, out of a job."
In addition to legislators, campus presidents and students, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler attended the installation. Rosenstone had attended Kaler's inauguration at the U last month.