Reimagining Minnesota State: Envisioning Our Next 20 Years

The Minnesota Legislature created Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in 1991. Over the next six years, the work of integrating the state university system, community college system, and technical college system resulted in the Minnesota State system coming into full operation in 1997.

Fast forward 20 years. Minnesota State’s campuses and programs have grown and changed to meet the local and regional needs of our students and communities. At this important milestone, we are pausing to reflect on the purpose of Minnesota State as a system of public higher education and how it should best serve Minnesota and its people now and in the future.

Through Reimagining Minnesota State, we are asking essential questions about what it means to be a public higher education system in an environment of rapid and accelerating change. We are taking stock of the progress we have made in our first 20 years as a comprehensive system, and we are identifying what Minnesota needs from Minnesota State for the next 20. We are rethinking our system operations to understand how to perform as an interdependent network that is focused on the success of all students and communities in Minnesota, regardless of home institution.

We are Reimagining Minnesota State because even as the world around us changes, we must ensure that we are delivering on our unique value proposition to the State of Minnesota and that all of our students benefit from high quality education that positions them for future success.

Next Forum Session 3:
Monday, February 4, 2019 at 8-9:45am

The Nature of Work:
Changing Careers, Competencies, and Credentials in the Future

See "UPCOMING FORUM SESSIONS" below for details...

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Reimagining Minnesota State: Three Big Questions

Through the Forum on Reimagining Minnesota State, we will learn together and respond to the three big questions presented by the Chair of the Minnesota State Board of Trustees that will inform the future of the system.

What is Minnesota State’s unique value proposition to the State of Minnesota?
What are the key educational, economic, and social goals that Minnesota State must address to create a better way of life for all people of Minnesota?

How does Minnesota State foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and partnership as we share responsibility for the achievement of our key goals?
How do we empower our employees and students to experiment with and collaborate on innovative approaches to move the needle on our key goals? 

How do we leverage our “systemness” to the benefit of our students and the state?
What is the unique role of our public higher education system that makes the system more than the sum of our parts? How does Minnesota State act more like an interdependent network that fosters the success of all students no matter where they are enrolled and supports the vitality of all Minnesota communities no matter where they are located? 

Sesion 1: The Forces Impacting US Higher Education (recording of live session)
Monday, December 10, 2018 at 8-9:45am; Minneapolis College in Room T1400

The first session served as an orientation for the forum advisory members to the forces that are shaping and disrupting higher education in the US. Through presentations by scholars and leaders in higher education on topics relating to changing demographics, competition, funding models and student needs and expectations, Session 1: The Forces Impacting US Higher Education will serve as the common framework by which the forum advisory members and the Minnesota State community discuss the opportunities and approaches to innovation that will support the long-term success of Minnesota State and its students.

  • Speakers:

    Nathan Grawe: Author of Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education (powerpoint presentation)
    Grawe is a labor economist with particular interests in how family background--from family income to number of siblings--shapes educational and employment outcomes. Many of his works study whether access to financial resources significantly limit these important measures of success.  Nathan's most recent publication, Demographics and The Demand for Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018) examines how recent demographic shifts are likely to affect demand for higher education and explores how colleges and policymakers may respond to meet institutional and national goals.  

    Chris Miller: Senior Vice President, Educational Advisory Board (powerpoint presentation)
    Miller leads EAB’s higher education research practice of more 1,400 colleges and university members in North America and the United Kingdom. Mr. Miller has led in-depth research efforts on innovations in academic program design and growth strategy; student success; maximizing mission and financial impact of IT and facilities investments, and university planning and budgeting excellence. He has authored more than 50 best practice reports on higher education strategy and administration. Prior to EAB, Mr. Miller worked for 17 years with EAB’s sister companies The Advisory Board and Corporate Executive Board, doing extensive research in health care delivery strategy, and leadership education.  

    Jon McGee:  Author of Breakpoint: The Changing Marketplace for Higher Education (powerpoint presentation)
    McGee is a frequently invited speaker nationally on demographic trends, the economics of higher education, and the intersection of mission, market, and institutional values. His book, Breakpoint: The Changing Marketplace for Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press), examines key forces of disruption in higher education and offers a framework to colleges and universities for addressing those issues. Jon McGee is Vice President for Planning and Strategy at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.

  • Briefing paper and guiding questions
  • Send feedback to:

Session 2: The Digital Age: The Impact and Future Possibilities Offered by Data and Technology (recording of live session)
(Monday, January 14, 2019 at 10-11:45am; St. Cloud State University in the Atwood Center, Cascade Room)

The second session will focus on the impact data and technology are having on industries and sectors across the US and the world. Presenters will share how technology, data analytics, and artificial intelligence are reshaping products and services and are changing expectations for delivery among customers and clients. Session 2: The Digital Age will explore the ways industries are reacting, adapting, and thriving through innovation in this rapidly changing environment.

How will Minnesota State reimagine educational and service delivery through technology and data analytics to support student success, enhance student learning, expand access to programs and credentials, and reduce costs?

  • Speakers:

    John O'BrienJohn O’Brien, President and CEO of EDUCAUSE (powerpoint presentation)
    Dr. O'Brien serves as the president and CEO of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through technology innovation. EDUCAUSE serves over 2,300 member colleges, universities, and organizations from 45 countries who themselves collectively serve over 16 million students. In his role as CEO, he speaks and writes on a variety of topics related to higher education, technology, and the crucial intersection where the two meet. Throughout his 30-year career in higher education, John has served in a variety of key leadership roles. Before his EDUCAUSE appointment in 2015, John served as senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the fourth largest higher education system in the United States serving over 375,000 students. In this position, he was dedicated to ensuring student success and implemented strategic changes to help the 37 colleges and universities in the system adapt to the changing needs of higher education.

    Tiffany Mfume.jpgTiffany Mfume, Asst. Vice President for Student Success and Retention at Morgan State University (powerpoint presentation)
    Dr. Tiffany Beth Mfume is the Assistant Vice President for Student Success and Retention at Morgan State University, where she manages new student and parent orientation, placement testing, Starfish Retention Solutions’ Early Alert and Connect systems, first-year advisement, financial literacy, alumni mentoring, and academic recovery among other programs and services. Dr. Mfume’s leadership has helped to promote ten point increases in both retention and graduation rates. Morgan's Office of Student Success and Retention (OSSR) being selected as national winners of the 2017 Hobsons Education Advances Award for Student Success and Advisement, the 2016 Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Turning Points: From Setback to Student Success Award, and the 2015 Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Project Degree Completion Award serves as evidence of the effective student success model at Morgan State University. Morgan is the only HBCU to ever have won these national awards. Dr. Mfume is author of the nationally recognized book, What Works at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Nine Strategies for Increasing Retention and Graduation Rates, published in 2016 by Rowman & Littlefield. Her second book, The College Completion Glass—Half-Full or Half-Empty? Exploring the Value of Postsecondary Education was released by Rowman & Littlefield in December 2018.

    smith.jpgDr. Peter Smith, Orkand Endowed Chair and Professor of Innovative Practices in Higher Education at University of Maryland University College
    Dr. Smith is the Orkand Endowed Chair and Professor of Innovative Practices in Higher Education at University of Maryland University College. In his role he collaborates with UMUC’s academic leadership and collegiate faculty to further strengthen the university’s strategic positioning and its delivery of learning and support services. He also serves on the provost’s Academic Innovation Advisory Council. He was the founding president of California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), where he served from 1995 to 2005. Smith led the effort to design and establish the Community College of Vermont. As the college’s first president, Smith accepted an additional assignment from the Chancellor of the Vermont State College System to create the Office of External Programs, which included developing the External Baccalaureate Degree program for non-traditional students and a portfolio assessment program for evaluating students’ experiential learning accrued outside of college. He has also served as Assistant Director General for Education for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. 
  • Briefing paper with guiding questions
  • Discussion guide
  • Send feedback to:


Reports will be provided following each session (check back for updates):

  • Session 1 Report: The Forces Impacting US Higher Education
  • Session 2 Report: The Digital Age/The Impact and Future Possibilities Offered by Data and Technology
  • Session 3 Report: The Nature of Work: Changing Careers, Competencies, and Credentials in the Future
  • Interim Reimagining Minnesota State Report
  • Session 4 Report: The Student: Competition, Emerging Populations, and Changing Expectations
  • Session 5: Innovative Models: Meeting Consumer Expectations, Improving Outcomes, and Reducing Costs through Innovation
  • Final Reimagining Minnesota State Report

Reimagining Minnesota State will unfold in two phases:

Phase I: Forum on Reimagining Minnesota State

The forum on Reimagining Minnesota State will be a time of in-depth study and discussion about the big questions and the significant forces impacting the future of Minnesota State. Through a series of five topical forum sessions, guest presenters will be invited to share their research and perspectives on the session topic to spur discussion among the forum advisory group and across our system. Through the forum on Reimagining Minnesota State, we will investigate the "three big questions" through the unique lens of the discussion topic. The forum reports will capture the shared and unique perspectives and insights on these questions from the forum advisory group and the Minnesota State community. Together, these discussions will create a rich information set that will inform the Minnesota State board and the chancellor as they create a strategic agenda for the future of Minnesota State.

Timeline: December 2018-May 2019

Phase II: Creating a Strategic Agenda for Minnesota State

Informed by the results of Phase I, Minnesota State will reaffirm and clearly communicate our value proposition and articulate a strategic agenda that will guide Minnesota State into the future. During Phase II, we will engage leaders from all levels within the system in the practical work of identifying the strategic, organizational, and operational changes that must occur to collectively make progress on our key goals by performing more like an interdependent network and by making innovation integral to the operation of the board, system office, and campuses.

Timeline: Beginning in May 2019

Forum on Reimagining Minnesota State: A Series of Stakeholder Conversations

The forum on Reimagining Minnesota State will create opportunities for forum advisory group and the Minnesota State community to examine different forces that are impacting Minnesota State, and how those forces will influence our ability to deliver on our value proposition and key outcomes of success.

Each forum session will include four parts: 

  1. Background: Prior to each forum session, research and information will be gathered and consolidated into a briefing paper that will provide background on the session topic, its context within Minnesota State, and its connection to our "Three Big Questions." The briefing papers will include a set of discussion questions that will be used to frame each session.
  2. Forum Sessions: National and local speakers will provide brief presentations on different perspectives on the topic, after which there will be a panel discussion with questions from the forum advisory group and Minnesota State community in attendance. Forum sessions will be open and will be available via technology for those interested in viewing remotely.
  3. Deliberations: Informed by the briefing paper and forum session presentations, and using the discussion questions as a guide, stakeholder groups across Minnesota State will engage in discussions of the critical questions raised through the forum session. The forum advisory group will meet to discuss the session topic. Other groups across the Minnesota State community, including bargaining units, student leadership, and campus-based groups, will be invited to engage in discussions using the same materials and guiding questions and share their responses through the Reimagining Minnesota State website. Presidents will be encouraged to host campus-based discussions supported by a discussion guide. Discussions with the chancellor will include:

    • Bargaining unit leadership
    • Statewide student association leadership
    • Leadership Council
  4. Output: Following each forum session, a session report will be developed that includes responses from the different discussion groups and the forum advisory group, as well as a summary of individual responses received.

The forum session reports will serve as the content for the interim and final Reimaging Minnesota State reports that will be shared with the Minnesota State board of Trustees and the entire Minnesota State community. The tentative timeline for the final report is May 2019.

Photo of Kathleen AnnetteKathleen Annette, M.D., a lifelong resident of rural Minnesota, has served as Blandin Foundation president and CEO since 2011. In her travels throughout the state, Kathy is witness to the power of local, rural and inclusive leadership on issues most important to communities. Prior to joining Blandin Foundation, she worked for 26 years with the nation’s Indian Health Service at many levels. As acting Deputy Director of Field Operations, her last federal assignment, she led the healthcare field operation overseeing 15,000 federal employees at 48 hospitals and 238 health clinics serving 1.9 million American Indian patients. During this time, she received two Presidential Meritorious Awards and a Presidential Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Annette holds a M.D. from the University of Minnesota and is her tribe’s first Ojibwe woman to become a physician. 


Photo of MayKao Hang

MayKao Hang is president and CEO of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul. She has extensive experience in the public and nonprofit sectors serving low income and disadvantaged populations, and is committed to courageous action to promote and create an equitable society where everyone can prosper. Dr. Hang is a trustee with the Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations, a board member of the Minnesota Historical Society, a founding member of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) in Minnesota, and former board chair of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, a master’s degree from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a doctorate from Hamline University.  


Photo of Kenneth Holmen

Kenneth Holmen, M.D. has served as the president and chief executive officer of CentraCare Health since January 1, 2015. He is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction of CentraCare Health and its 12,000 employees for the establishment, maintenance, and enhancement of quality health services in accordance with the mission, philosophy, and values of the organization. CentraCare Health includes six hospitals, seven long term care facilities, and 18 clinics in 11 communities in Central Minnesota, and a Family Practice Residency Program affiliated with the University of Minnesota. Dr. Holmen holds a M.D. from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is a board certified anesthesiologist. 


Photo of Neel Kashkari

Neel Kashkari is the president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis where he serves as a monetary policymaker and oversees all of the Bank’s operations. He was instrumental in establishing the Minneapolis Fed’s Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, whose mission is to improve the economic well-being of all Americans. In previous roles, Kashkari served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, including overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) during the financial crisis, and earlier in his career as an aerospace engineer, he developed technology for NASA missions. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. 


Photo of David Mortenson

David Mortenson is chairman of M. A. Mortenson Company, a privately-held international design and construction company headquartered in Minneapolis. He leads a business that specializes in everything from renewable energy to sports stadiums and hospitals to data centers. David joined the family business in 1991 after serving as the Combat Information Center Officer on board the USS Hewitt. He is a graduate of Colgate University and the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer’s School. Outside of the office, David serves as a trustee on the University of Minnesota Foundation board, as a board member on Minnesota Business Partnership, as a member of the Itasca Project (former chair), and as a corporate director with Bedford Technologies.  He also served as a founding board member of GreaterMSP and as a trustee with the Minneapolis Foundation.


Photo of RT Rybak

R.T. Rybak is the president and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation, a role in which he oversees the management of nearly $800 million in assets; the administration of more than 1,200 charitable funds created by individuals, families, and businesses; and the average annual distribution of more than $70 million in grants. He spent almost 30 years working in journalism, the commercial real estate business, publishing, and the Internet before being elected mayor of Minneapolis (2002-2013). Most recently, he served as Executive Director of Generation Next, a coalition of civic, business and school leaders focused on closing the racial achievement gap in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Rybak holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.


Photo of Michael Vekich

Michael Vekich (Chair) has served on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees since 2010, and has served as chair since 2015. He also previously served from 1996 to 2002 including four years as chair. He is the CEO of Vekich Chartered in Minneapolis, chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (U.S. Bank Stadium), and director of BNC National Bank. He currently serves as president and board member of the Bank Holding Company Association, president of the National Association of Corporate Directors, and as a member of the Hennepin County Capital Budgeting Task Force. Previously, he served as acting director of the Minnesota Lottery; chairman of HF Financial Corp (NASDAQ: HFFC) and Home Federal Bank; executive chairman, president, and chief operating officer of Skyline Exhibits in Eagan; CEO of Vekich Arkema and Company; chair of the Minnesota Board of Accountancy; a member of the Rochester Higher Education Development Committee; and as a founding member and vice chair of the Minnesota Higher Education Services Council. He earned an associate degree from Hibbing Community College and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. 


Photo of Roger Moe

Roger Moe has served on the Board of Trustees of Minnesota State since 2016, and is the current president of National Strategies, Inc. He previously served 32 years in the Minnesota Legislature, including 22 years as Senate Majority Leader. His legislative accomplishments include the creation of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership, the Midwest Higher Education Commission, and the Environmental Trust Fund. He has also served as the vice president of Coleman/Christison, Inc., and as a mathematics teacher and coach at Ada High School. He is a former member of the Policy Consensus Initiative Board of Directors, Debate Minnesota, the Minnesota Twins Community Fund Governance Committee, and the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Mayville State University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Minnesota for his years of public service. 


Photo of Alex Cirillo

Alex Cirillo has served on the Board of Trustees of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities since 2012. He was the vice president of community affairs for 3M prior to his retirement in 2010. He had worked in different roles at 3M since he joined the company in 1979 as a senior physicist. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Wilder Foundation and MinnCAN, and has been a member of the Itasca Project's working team since 2007. Previously, he served on the Board of Directors for the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. Cirillo earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Catholic University of America and a master's degree and doctorate in chemistry, both from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 


Photo of Devinder Malhotra

Devinder Malhotra was named Minnesota State chancellor in 2018 after first serving as interim chancellor in 2017. Previously, Dr. Malhotra was interim president of Metropolitan State University and provost and vice president of academic affairs at St. Cloud State University. Prior to that, he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern Maine. At the University of Akron, he served as chair of the Faculty Senate, chair of the Department of Economics, and associate dean of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences. He holds a doctorate in economics from Kansas State University and also is a graduate of the Management Development Program of the Harvard University Institutes of Higher Education. He holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Delhi in India.

Minnesota State is an interdependent network of vibrant colleges and universities committed to collectively nurturing and enhancing a civically engaged, socially mobile, and economically productive Minnesota. As a system, we foster the success of all students, no matter where they are enrolled, and support the vitality of all Minnesota communities, no matter where they are located.  ~ Chancellor Devinder Malhotra