The new leader of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system faces a heavy workload and some challenging times ahead.
Steven Rosenstone was officially installed as chancellor of the 31 college MnSCU system during a ceremony Wednesday at the state Capitol.
Rosenstone pledged to reinvent how MnSCU delivers education and prepares graduates for the workforce at a time of declining support from the state.
Before the ceremony, students from each of MnSCU's 31 campuses offered a welcome, some in English, some in other languages, to the system's newest chancellor, who is the fourth leader in MnSCU's 16-year history.
The dozens of students crossing the stage in the Minnesota Capitol rotunda represented the more than 200,000 full-time students enrolled at MnSCU colleges. It gave a sense of the complicated and sprawling system Rosenstone inherits.
After he was officially installed by MnSCU board of trustees chair Scott Thiss, Rosenstone seemed to acknowledge the enormity of his new job. As he stepped to the podium, he paused for a moment, and uttered just one word to the gathering of students, lawmakers and MnSCU leaders.
From there, Rosenstone laid out his vision for the MnSCU system.
He plans to push every MnSCU college and university to improve the quality of what they offer, from technical education to Master's level programs.
Rosenstone said MnSCU needs to find new, innovative and more efficient ways to deliver education. He wants the system to collaborate with other colleges on programs and find new ways to partner with businesses in the state. He also said MnSCU should work with the state's K-12 system to better prepare younger students for college.
Rosenstone promised to keep the cost of tuition in check, noting that students and families have told him the rising cost of college is pushing a degree out of reach for many.
"To you, our students, I have heard you on tuition and I get it," he said.
Rosenstone said MnSCU aims to make its system more efficient. He pledged to ensure that officials seek additional sources of revenue to fund the system and minimize tuition increases.
But his biggest concern is the how much money MnSCU receives fom the state. Rosenstone said MnSCU's funding per student has fallen 48 percent since 2000.
"I am deeply worried about the darkest cloud in the educational sky," he said. "And that's the shifting of costs from the state to our students."
St. Cloud State University senior Samantha Ivy, who came to the Capitol for the ceremony, said she was impressed with Rosenstone's vision. But said students are worried about what's ahead.
"To hear that it's going to be a challenging year when it comes to getting funding and reorganizing and innovating, it concerns us," she said. "But we're excited to be a part of that and excited to be a part of the future of higher education in Minnesota."
Rosenstone sought to reassure the crowd that, despite the challenges ahead, he sees many opportunities for MnSCU to thrive.