Provost position links U, MnSCU

Nancy Ngo

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Along with a recent pact between the University and its funding competitor, a newly created moderator post will help join the state’s two largest higher education systems.
As the first provost for the University Center Rochester, Dale E. Bower will serve as the liaison between the University and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which both offer academic programs in the city.
Bower’s new appointment requires her to report directly to University President Mark Yudof and MnSCU Chancellor Morris Anderson.
Reporting to the leaders of both systems marks a unique responsibility for the higher education position.
University officials held a reception Friday in recognition of Bower, a day after the Minnesota Public Higher Education Compact between the two systems was signed by Yudof and Anderson.
The pact outlines a plan to streamline University and MnSCU resources for greater efficiency.
Bower’s reception also showed that academically partnering the two systems was received with cooperation by the schools’ officials.
But the day also revealed potential problems in future campus issues, such as co-development planning between the school organizations and the city of Rochester.
Bower said such partnerships are the future to higher education. Her task will be to bring together and strengthen some of the 150 academic programs.
The University, Winona State University and Rochester Community and Technical College offer the main programs at the Rochester center.
“The provost will bring us to the community and also the Twin Cities and MnSCU board together,” said Carol Lund, director of the University’s component of the program.
Lund oversees those taking University credits, a number equivalent to 113 full-time University students.
Although the center mainly focuses in areas of technology and health sciences education, the University also offers teaching licenses and mechanical engineering certificates among its 24 degree programs.
These offerings differ from MnSCU’s academic focuses, which emphasize areas such as counseling and management.
Many hope bringing in a new provost will make taking classes from the different schools a smoother process, including credit transfer.
School officials also want to see the new provost expand the programs offered.
“I think it’s the first step of full academic programs here,” said Michael Vekich, MnSCU Board of Trustees chairman.
But adding academic programs requires an expansion of the center in the form of new road systems and buildings, posing issues in how to fund co-development.
Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, R-Rochester, leads a panel Friday joining school leaders and city officials to discuss what role the school systems should have in co-development with the city.
“There isn’t a clear action plan,” she said. “But we need the cooperation of the city, MnSCU and the University,” she said.
Some school officials expressed concern about contributing too much to the center, where the bulk of its users are Rochester citizens and not students from their schools. But city officials also hope that some revenue from a proposed sales tax will help weigh down the costs of such future projects.