Local businessmen Opperman, Taylor to head MnSCU board

by Justin Ware

Two of Minnesota’s most prominent businessmen will co-chair a commission designed to advise Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor James H. McCormick.

Glen Taylor, CEO of Taylor Corporation and owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx professional basketball teams, and Vance Opperman, a graduate of the University Law School and CEO of Key Investment, Inc. will oversee the new Citizens Advisory Commission for the MnSCU system.

Appointed Chancellor of MnSCU in December, McCormick only recently moved to the state.

The Citizens Advisory Commission was implemented to acquaint McCormick with the higher education systems of Minnesota in addition to talking with the MnSCU Board of Trustees and the presidents of MnSCU colleges.

Connecting Minnesota businesses and MnSCU students is a priority for Opperman and Taylor. The commission aims to facilitate transferring students within the MnSCU system and to other institutions such as the University.

Taylor said forming strong partnerships with the business community is important for higher education.

“It’s a lot easier to get businesses involved if they have more input,” he said.

The idea is to allow business to become involved with students earlier in their education rather than waiting until they graduate, Taylor said. This gives the employer the opportunity to prepare a student for a possible position.

Opperman also said he wants businesses to invest more in education, which could help alleviate the burden of tuition increases.

“If you have public money, where do you get the most bang for the buck?” Opperman asked.

Minnesota should also distribute higher education money equally between institutions and student financial aid, he said.

McCormick, Taylor and Opperman stressed forming a working relationship between MnSCU and the University.

“I’m looking forward to a respectful and cooperative partnership with the University,” McCormick said.

He suggested three areas where the two systems could cooperate: improving education from kindergarten through college, working to meet state health care needs and serving higher education institutions outside the metro area.

On the appointments of Taylor and Opperman, McCormick said he feels the two are by far the best choices for co-chairmen “out of 4.9 million outstanding individuals that could head the commission.”

Although new to the higher education system, McCormick said his commitment is concrete.

“I think these institutions belong to the people,” he said. “I want us to do an outstanding job for the state of Minnesota.”

Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]