August 2019 newsletter
Explore why living on campus is an important experience and how increased investment in the Minnesota State Grant impacts Minnesota students. Then wind down the summer with a photo gallery of what our colleges have been growing and harvesting over the summer.
As students return from summer break, many will be moving into on-campus housing. Living on campus is an important experience for many college students and Minnesota Private Colleges have the largest number of students doing so in Minnesota.
When students imagine the college campus experience, they probably picture this, whether it’s a traditional first-year residence hall or special interest housing. These experiences aren’t just social; they have impacts throughout the student’s life.
At some colleges it is a built-in expectation; Macalester College asks students to spend at least the first two years on campus and many students decide to spend more.
“Campus housing is the hub of a student’s life and the student experience,” said Coco Du, assistant dean for residential life at Macalester. “The resources and engagement opportunities that come out of residential life directly contribute to student retention and overall student success; it’s much more than just providing students a place to live.”
Research shows that living on campus has positive impacts on grade point average and graduation rates. But it’s not just the academic outcomes that are so important; residential housing also creates community and help students connect with each other.
“From a human development perspective, the programming and support we provide offer the student a sense of belonging,” Du said. “When students feel like they belong, the likelihood of them being successful is much higher.”
This sense of belonging and community was something that Lourdes Juarez said was important to her success and happiness in college. Juarez is a senior at Augsburg University and is a resident advisor who supports students who live in the residence halls.
“I’ve lived on campus all four years at Augsburg and I think it’s important to live on campus because of the community,” Juarez said. “There are a lot of student organizations at Augsburg and it’s so much easier to get involved if you live on campus. And getting involved in these organizations has helped me find myself and who I am as a person.”
“A lot of my friends I’ve made have been through residential life,” Juarez said. “Whether it was living in the same dorm or going to some event or programming; it’s the best way of making important friendships.”
Minnesota Private Colleges all have traditional residence halls, the classic option in a building with longer hallways and many students. But there are also more smaller scale buildings that offer special interest housing. This type of on-campus living focuses around a topic like a language or a hobby and students living together share a common interest.
“Integrating learning and living opportunity is the future of residential life,” Du said. “Connecting people with similar interest allows us to provide more impactful programming and support that allows student to learn and grow even more outside of the classroom.”
Minnesota Private Colleges had a dorm capacity of 23,139 in 2017. That compares to 11,885 and 12,237 at Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota.
By Tom Lancaster
Decisions lawmakers reached in St. Paul earlier this year will result in more help for college students this fall. Legislators and Gov. Tim Walz agreed on a $18.2 million increase in funding over two years for the Minnesota State Grant program, which provides need-based aid to more than 80,000 Minnesota students.
Consider the impact at just one institution: at Bethel University 784 students will receive additional funds. Jeff Olson, director of financial aid, said that the average increase for those students will be $380. Noting how hard it can be for students to save additional funds over the summer while working lower-wage jobs, he recalled an experience of student starting to cry when talking about the difference that a few hundred dollars can make. “That goes a long way from a student perspective,” Olson said.
Bethel is also seeing 24 students became newly eligible for State Grant awards because of the decisions policymakers reached this spring. That’s definitely welcome news for the students and their families, Olson said. These students are not eligible for the federal Pell Grant and for a family of four with two parents would have family incomes in the range of $60,000 to $90,000. “Those are families that the federal government is not helping,” Olson said. “It is up to the school and to a degree the state and those families to find a way to pay for college. Many of those families don’t have resources in the bank to help their kids go to college, so anything the state can do to help these families is really appreciated.”
Most Minnesota students who receive State Grant awards attend public institutions, but many attend private nonprofit colleges as well. Olson said that there’s an untrue stereotype that students at private nonprofit colleges are generally wealthy and do not need help paying for college. He noted how at Bethel, for example, 33 percent of students are from low- to middle income families who qualify for State Grant awards. “We could not enroll those students without the help of the Minnesota State Grant and the federal Pell Grant,” he said. “The idea that there is this partnership with the state of Minnesota, it is so important.”
Along with the new funds that policymakers put in the program through the higher education legislation that was passed this year, an existing surplus in the program budget was retained that is being put to use to help increase State Grant spending over the next two years. In addition, State Grant awards are being adjusted somewhat to lower how much is expected from families and to increase what is assumed about student living costs.
The vast majority of the money the state spends on higher education goes to the two public systems, the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State, and that was true in the recently passed higher education legislation as well. In contrast, the State Grant program helps students regardless of whether they attend public institutions or private nonprofit colleges — that means it helps students choose the institution that best supports their needs.
Hundreds of students from private colleges and their supporters got involved in speaking up for increasing State Grant awards this last session, through visits to the Capitol, testimony at hearings and notes to legislators.
On the federal front, the maximum award given out to students from lower-income families through the Pell Grant program has increased $100. There’s discussion in Washington, D.C. about possible additional improvements to the Pell Grant program, but that will have to wait for agreement and action through the budget process.
By John Manning
Summer is slowly winding down, and that not only means the start a new school year but also harvest time of a bounty of fresh produce from campus farms and gardens — and, yes, even beehives. These sustainable efforts, usually overseen by students, promote learning, sharing and community building — both on and off campus with homegrown veggies often heading to campus dining halls and to local foods shelves. Here’s a look at what some of our members are doing.
The Medtronic Foundation Community Garden at Augsburg University brings together over 70 students, faculty, staff and neighbors of all ages to learn and grow together in personal and communal plots. Weekly workdays, special events and informal gatherings happen throughout the season, in partnership with Augsburg's Health Commons and Campus Kitchen. Visitors to the garden hear many languages, stories and learn about several creative planting techniques, garden structures and decorations. Hot peppers, tomatoes and greens are the most popular produce in the garden. Learn more on Augsburg's website.
The Carleton College Student Farm is a 1.5-acre student-run farm that uses organic techniques to grow produce that is sold to the college's dining halls. The farm is run by student interns, who get the unique experience of learning about sustainable farming practices by managing an organic farm on their own. The summer internship is a full-time paid position for 11 weeks, but the farm interns’ responsibilities extend into the entire calendar year as they plan, order, plant, weed, harvest, sell and prepare the land. Summer 2019 interns pictured here are Astrid Steiner-Manning '22, Rina Tanaka '20 and Tali Emlen '22. Learn more on Carleton's website.
Hamline students tend campus Peace and Appreciation garden beds, which contain food and flowers for the purposes of research, sharing and building community. Similarly, Hamline students grow tomatoes, squash, peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, flowers and greens in a nearby micro-farm with the goal of sharing with neighbors. Valentine Cadieux directs campus sustainability efforts, runs the environmental studies program and leads the student garden program, which offers internships to Hamline students who want to develop a green thumb.
Macalester Urban Land and Community Health (MULCH) runs the on-campus student community garden and chicken coop. The organization also puts on events and does outreach and education around sustainable food and agriculture. The food from the garden is used in various ways including donations to the Macalester food shelf, sold to the campus community and for a portion of the food in the dining program. The garden is producing tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, kale, green beans, Brussel sprouts and herbs. (Photo by Macalester student Dylan Kulik '20)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
MCAD loves bees! In 2014, two beehives were added at MCAD, thanks to the efforts of MCAD Printshop Director Diana Eicher. The hives are maintained and monitored by MCAD staff and partners from the University of Minnesota Bee Squad's Hive to Bottle Program. To promote awareness about Colony Collapse Disorder and a greater understanding of human dependence on healthy pollinator communities, the MCAD Printshop and the MCAD Bee Club host on-campus honey tastings and workshops. Hundreds of pounds of honey have been produced, and all sales of MCAD honey directly support the ongoing maintenance of these hives.
Saint John's University
Edelbrock Greens, a deep winter greenhouse at Saint John’s University, focuses on sustainably producing organic leafy greens. In a controlled growing environment that uses aquaponics, Edelbrock Greens provides opportunities for members of the CSB/SJU community to learn and understand the components of a fully-sustainable growing operation. In addition to educating the community, the greenhouse provides fresh greens to the on-campus dining services, members of the CSB/SJU community and the local Minnesota Street Market. Learn more on Saint John's website.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
The SMUMN Community Garden at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota yielded more than 626 pounds of produce last year. But some of the most important growth has come at a personal level: the increased comradery between student gardeners; the discovery of the meditative quality of communing with the land; the attainment of gardening and cooking skills; and a deep sense of service and fulfillment that comes from feeding the hungry. While students enjoy a portion of the harvest, the majority of the vegetables are donated to the Winona Food Shelf to address a need in our own community. Learn more on Saint Mary's website.
St. Catherine University
Sponsored by the St. Catherine University BioClub and Food Justice Coalition, the St. Kate’s community garden provides food for students across campus. The produce grown in the garden is donated to the St. Kate’s food shelf, where students who otherwise may not have enough to eat can receive fresh vegetables grown for them by their community members. The garden began as a small test plot in 2016. It expanded in 2017, occupying the four raised beds that exist today. The expansion was made possible thanks to funding from the College for Adults Student Advisory Board. Natalie Nation ’19 is pictured in the garden.
St. Olaf College
This summer Poonam Rawat '21 (left) and Matt Hallahan '21 are overseeing St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works (STOGROW), a farm-to-table operation that brought more than two tons of campus-grown produce into the college's dining hall last year. STOGROW farmers take an independent research course each spring to learn about organic farming and start planning their crops. In the summer, they work on the farm and participate in the college’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program. By the time they wrap up the fall harvest, they've gained hands-on experience in operating a profitable organic farming business. Learn more on St. Olaf's website.
The median income of Minnesota FAFSA-filing families at our private colleges is lower than the state of Minnesota’s median family income, at $83,000 at our member colleges versus $86,000 for the state.
Carleton receives national Excellence in Sustainability Award
The award recognizes Carleton College transitioning the college’s 100-year-old steam system to hot-water heating from a centralized ground source geothermal heat pump system.
Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich named tenth president of Concordia University, St. Paul
Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich, president of Concordia University, Nebraska since 2004, has accepted the call to become the tenth president of Concordia University, St. Paul.
Adventurous Bethel alumni
A liberal arts learning environment teaches graduates to be nimble and adaptable, as demonstrated by the career choices of these Bethel University alumni.
2019 TV broadcast camp at St. Thomas gives ThreeSixty journalism students real-world experience
Future broadcast journalists learn from experienced professionals at the University of St. Thomas ThreeSixty Journalism camp. ThreeSixty is a nonprofit program of St. Thomas’ College of Arts and Sciences.
National Endowment for the Humanities names Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, the 2019 Jefferson Lecturer
Stewart, executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University, is the first Minnesotan to receive the award.
MCAD animation alumni make waves on the small screen
Read how two Minneapolis College of Art and Design alumni scored big by landing new animated shows on Cartoon Network and Netflix.
MPR News Presents: In her own words: Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison at Macalester
The late Toni Morrison gave the opening convocation and helped inaugurate the new Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College on Sept. 5, 2006.
High-tech collaboration in St. Scholastica’s occupational therapy program
Students in The College of St. Scholastica’s occupational therapy program are using high-tech ideas to help clients, attracting attention from the local media.
SMU student success with X Games continues
For the second year in a row, a Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student received the Overall #IMPACT Award through the X Games Student Work Program.
Summer Scholars showcase 10 weeks of collaborative research
St. Catherine University students and faculty members shared the results of their 10-week collaborative research projects at the Summer Scholars Closing Celebration.
Augsburg's third River Semester joined by leading German scholars, artists
Augsburg University will be part of a prestigious German initiative to explore the Mississippi River with students paddling portions of the river for 100 days while earning 16-19 credits.
Intentional admissions process
Hamline University’s admission team has worked intentionally to address the needs of Minnesota’s emerging population demographics.
St. Olaf team a finalist in Hult Prize challenge
After winning the Hult Prize regional final in Boston, a team of St. Olaf College students is now among 40 finalists competing for a $1 million prize to support their business idea.
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Visit campus this fall
High school students are encouraged to come to visit our colleges this fall, to help them consider their options. The Council has a list of visit events.
Transfer Days scheduled
Beginning in September, transfer representatives from some of our colleges will be at community colleges in the Twin Cities area to answer questions about transferring to a Minnesota private college.
Updated transfer student origins report posted
More than one in five new students at our colleges are transfers. This report examines where these students had previously been enrolled.
Changes in presidencies
Over the summer, Concordia University, St. Paul announce that Rev. Brian Friedrich was named as its 10th president, with his term beginning Jan. 1, 2020; Dr. Eric LaMott is serving as interim president. At Saint John’s University, Dr. Eugene McAllister was chosen to serve as interim president, beginning Aug. 1. New presidents Sanjit Sethi at Minneapolis College of Art and Design began on July 15 and Barbara McDonald at The College of St. Scholastica on Aug. 5.
Look at states' progress on degree-attainment goals
Inside Higher Ed, June 13, 2019
New evidence for the broad benefits of higher education
Forbes, June 17, 2019
How to make college accessible to students from rural communities
The Hill, June 19, 2019
College education ‘opportunity cost’ depends on where you live
Bloomberg, July 13, 2019
The truth about student debt: 7 facts no one is talking about
Newsweek, Aug. 8, 2019
When free isn't really free
Inside Higher Ed, Aug. 13, 2019
To help first-generation students succeed, colleges enlist and inspire their parents
PBS NewsHour, Aug. 15, 2019