Colleges and universities got a good chunk of Gov. Mark Dayton's State of the State address Wednesday night. He criticized budget cuts for the two public higher education systems and highlighted a couple MnSCU programs.
"The success of our state depends" on students coming out of higher education "skilled and ready to succeed," Dayton argued.
Here are some additional excerpts with a higher-ed focus:
"I have already sent you three major jobs initiatives. My proposed bonding bill would repair buildings and upgrade classroom equipment at our state colleges and universities. It would improve our state parks. It would help finance downtown revitalization projects in several cities.
My third jobs proposal is a “Jobs Now” tax credit to encourage businesses to hire unemployed Minnesotans, Veterans, and recent college graduates. It would reduce taxes for participating businesses, while putting still more of our citizens to work.
We face similar challenges to improve our colleges and universities throughout Minnesota. Unfortunately, unlike K-12 education, where we increased funding last session, the University of Minnesota and MnSCU were each cut by almost 15%.
The two new heads of these invaluable institutions are here tonight. Dr. Eric Kaler is the 16th President of the University of Minnesota. Dr. Steven Rosenstone is the 4th Chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. They are joined tonight by the new Director of the Office of Higher Education, former Senator Larry Pogemiller.
The three of them, together with legislators and other higher education leaders, have the enormous responsibility to retool Minnesota’s colleges and universities and give their students the crucial advantages needed to succeed in this highly competitive global economy.
We’re told that by 2018, 70% of Minnesota’s jobs will require some kind of postsecondary degree. That’s just the beginning, however; not the end. Our postsecondary students need more than degrees; they need the world’s best educations -- so they can thrive in that world. And Minnesota will not thrive, unless they do.
Chancellor Rosenstone and President Kaler need our support to make all of their campuses excellent. Their curricula and classrooms must be world-class and state-of-the-art. They must prepare their students for the jobs of the future, not the past. It’s already happening in many classrooms on U of M and MnSCU campuses. Mr. Ron Ulseth is an instructor at Itasca Community College. He developed the program “Iron Range Engineering,” a hands-on learning experience, where students do real engineering work for Minnesota companies.
It’s so successful that the Engineering Department at Stanford University invited him there to teach their faculty about the benefits of this new model. When “Iron Range Engineering” meets Silicon Valley -- well, Ron, I just hope you have a share of the royalties!
Antoinette McCarthy is another wonderful success story. She said, “I had tried college before, but I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped.” As a result, she struggled to find a decent-paying job and a career with a future. Now, Antoinette is poised for success. She just completed a FastTRAC program at Inver Hills Community College, receiving her Certificate as a Nursing Assistant.
Her hard work for that certificate means she will earn, on average, nearly double what someone would at a minimum-wage medical job.
We need FastTRAC on every campus in Minnesota. We need state and federal job training and workforce development monies to be better coordinated with higher education funding and programs, so that all of our students come out of our educational systems, skilled and ready to succeed. The success of our state depends upon it."