October 2018 newsletter
Learn how off-campus study enriches student learning; see recent photos of building projects and read how our colleges make them a reality.
Minnesota private colleges offer many opportunities for students to study abroad — or off-campus — and although the location of these experiences differ, the chance to engage with difference is always at their core.
“An off-campus experience is a chance to learn about another place in-depth, everything from food and customs to cultural norms,” said Jodi Malmgren, director of international and off campus studies at St. Olaf College. “Those cultural learning experiences can be significant even if you’re in the U.S.”
These opportunities are at the core of what the liberal arts strives to be — appreciation for diversity, critical thinking and leadership, Malmgren said. Many of St. Olaf’s off-campus programs also integrate vocational skills and goal setting into the experiences.
Off-campus study is baked into many courses or majors. This emphasis on study abroad can be seen in the ways professors build off-campus studies into their department. Many faculty are leading their own off-campus experiences, which provides them a unique perspective when teaching their on-campus classes. Some majors — such as Russian at St. Olaf — require at least one semester of study abroad and many students do more.
“There are courses offered in most disciplines including music, chemistry, sociology and art,” said Malmgren. “It’s not just language majors studying off-campus.”
In one of St. Olaf’s 60 study abroad programs, human biology students work with doctors and dentists who travel to an Andean village in South America. The students see what it means to be a doctor, the doctors gain eager students to provide non-medical patient assistance and the village gets much needed health care. “This program is a great example of students seeing how to integrate service into a career and life after college,”Malmgren said.
At Augsburg University, off-campus study also takes a wide variety of forms. “Traditionally study abroad was abroad only,” said Andrea Dvorak, assistant director of off-campus studies in the center for global education and experience. “Recently, we felt a need to provide more opportunities within the U.S. . . . These programs can provide very similar experiences to traditional study abroad where students don’t have to leave the country — if we provide opportunities to reflect on the differences students interact with.”
Like the programs themselves, the students Dvorak is working with are also different from each other. Some students might be looking to work on language skills and others might be looking to connect to their native country, Dvorak said.
One of Augsburg’s unique off-campus study programs is the River Semester, which involves a group of students paddling down the Mississippi in large canoes and learning across disciplines about the river. “The River Semester really focuses on the experiential education,” Dvorak said. “Students are learning from people who have experience with the river and asking ‘what’s your experience with climate change, the economics of the river, the politics of the river, the literature of the river.’ These students are engaging with difference the entire way down to New Orleans.”
“Off-campus study is an opportunity to engage with difference,” Dvorak said. “And that means different things in different places. Whether you’re paddling down the Mississippi or in a South African classroom you’re engaging with difference.”
All 17 of the Minnesota private colleges encourage off-campus study. Find links to all of the institutions’ offices for off-campus study.
By Tom Lancaster
Buildings and facilities are an important part of the identity of college campuses — former students vividly remember their dorms or where their favorite classes were held. But how and why do these spaces get built? And who pays for them?
Many of Minnesota’s private colleges are old — some are over 150 years old — and maintaining and renovating the colleges’ existing stock of buildings is a big job. This work is as simple and important as replacing new heaters to renovating an entire building. (See above slideshow of new and renovated buildings on our college campuses; click here if the slideshow is not visible.)
“You can defer investing in maintenance and repairs to a degree,” said Angela Riley, executive vice president, chief financial officer, treasurer and corporate secretary at St. Catherine University. “If you are not continually making an investment in your infrastructure, you will get to a point where catching up on your deferred maintenance will cost as much as building new. It’s important to maintain and renovate if you want to preserve critical parts of your physical history.”
Renovating is a great way to preserve the important identity certain campus buildings have while providing new up-to-date learning spaces for students. “With students, faculty and staff becoming more technologically advanced we see demand for spaces to host up-to-date technology,” Riley said. “It’s important for spaces to accommodate current teaching methods and technology.”
Minnesota private colleges also decide at times that new construction is the only way to meet current student needs, whether that’s for classrooms, dorms or dining halls.
Options for funding building projects — both renovations and new construction — include using current cash flows, financing and donor support. One of the important ways private nonprofit colleges finance facilities projects is through the Minnesota Higher Education Facilities Authority. The authority provides low-interest financing to private non-profit colleges to help colleges afford facility improvements.
“Public institutions finance through bonds but also get state appropriation for facilities — essentially cash the state issues,” said Barry Fick, executive director of the authority. “In general, private colleges do not receive state funding for capital projects. The average tax payer in Minnesota doesn’t pay a thing for these projects.”
There are a couple reasons an institution might build new, including changes in state or regulatory code, to take advantage of new more cost efficient technology or to provide the student with the best possible education. “If the student is going into science and they’re going to work for Medtronic or Abbott they’ll be using top-notch equipment,” Fick said. “And the employer is going to expect them to know how to use that equipment.”
When private non-profit colleges want to build new, they can’t rely on state funds like public institutions can, so often the first thing they do is start a capital campaign to secure private funding. “Donors are and have always been a critical component in keeping private institutions up-to-date and competitive,” Riley said.
And these donors are privately supporting institutions that benefit the state. “These projects enhance the workforce of the state,” Fick said, “and ultimately improve the state as a whole.”
In addition, the spending on renovation and building projects has a positive immediate impact on the Minnesota’s economy, in terms of materials purchased and people hired to get the work done. In 2016 Minnesota private colleges spent more than $73 million on construction projects.
By Tom Lancaster
Increases in institutional grants at Minnesota Private Colleges have vastly outpaced growth in state and federal grants. Institutional grants increased by 131 percent between 2006-07 and 2015-16, compared to 71 percent for federal grants and 42 percent for state grants.
Source: Minnesota Private Council analysis of Minnesota Office of Higher Education Report: Financial Aid Awarded to Minnesota Undergraduates (2007 and 2016)
St. Olaf to open two centers with funding provided by two $1 million gifts
St. Olaf College will establish two new centers made possible by two $1 million gifts from alumni: the Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion and the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community.
MCAD alum Jurgens interviewed about Superman anniversary
Minneapolis College of Art and Design alumnus and DC comic book artist Dan Jurgens was interviewed by SYFY Wire on the 25th anniversary of the "Death of Superman."
Professor writes first novel, inspired by her own Native American story
Dawn Quigley, education professor at St. Catherine University, published her debut novel, Apple in the Middle. The coming-of-age story follows Apple Starkington, who is both white and Native American.
Concordia student tracks turtles through telemetry
Concordia College (Moorhead) student Chloe Whitten ’19 was one of 190 interns at the Brookhaven National Laboratory run by the Department of Energy. Whitten researched eastern box turtles.
Liberal Arts Illuminated conference at CSB/SJU featured in ACCU newsletter
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University hosted 160 participants representing 30 colleges and universities and 21 organizations from 18 states.
Three decades of Peace and Justice discussions at St. Scholastica
For 30 years, Professor Tom Morgan has led The College of St. Scholastica’s Peace and Justice Lecture Series, bringing internationally known speakers to campus for thoughtful discussions.
Carleton Knights climb to No. 1 in WGCA national rankings
Following an undefeated fall season, the Carleton College women’s golf team was ranked at the No. 1 spot in the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) Division III rankings.
The Nobel Peace Prize Forum—Minneapolis marked its 30th anniversary in September
The forum, hosted by Augsburg University, celebrated the achievements of 2016 Nobel Laureates, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
CSP signs purchase agreement to acquire Central Midway Building
Concordia University, St. Paul has signed a purchase agreement subject to specific contingencies to buy the entire Central Midway Building on the northern side of I-94 across from Holst Hall.
Siah Armajani, Macalester alumnus, and his new show
A major new retrospective at the Walker Art Center, Siah Armajani: Follow This Line is the first comprehensive U.S. retrospective devoted to the Macalester College alumnus’ work and runs through December 30.
Gustavus first-year wins National Leadership Award
Gustavus Adolphus College first-year student Gena King was recently recognized with the Black Women's Agenda's Bright Futures Award and scholarship at a gala luncheon in Washington, D.C.
New York Times columnist David Brooks speaks at Bethel University
Before a public event at Bethel University, New York Times columnist David Brooks stopped by the student newsroom for an off-the-cuff Q&A with Bethel journalism students.
Schedule your own campus visits
Although the larger fall campus visit events are beginning to wrap up, families always have the option to schedule individual visits.
First-year enrollment increases
This fall 8,955 first-year students enrolled at Minnesota Private Colleges. The number of students in the class of ’22 is 4 percent larger than it was the previous year.
Counselors' Breakfast scheduled for Nov. 15 in St. Cloud
This free informational session is for high school counselors and others who work with students on college planning. Admissions staff from our member institutions share updates on what is going on at their institutions and answer questions.
Find colleges offering specific programs of study
Our online College Finder has been updated with majors, minors and concentrations offered during the 2018-19 academic year. Or search for athletic programs or clubs and activities in the arts.
Latest parent e-newsletter available
The fall issue of The Bridge: Parent News, the Council’s e-newsletter for parents of middle and high school students, is now available. Past issues along with a sign up to receive the newsletter by email can be found at the above link.
Students interested in transferring invited to Nov. 12 campus visits
Many private colleges are hosting Transfer Campus Visits on Nov. 12 when community colleges are closed for Veteran’s Day. Visits will include time to talk to admission staff and see what campus life is like.
Midwestern Higher Education Compact names Susan Heegaard as next president
Susan Heegaard has extensive experience including as senior consultant for HCM Strategists and the Lumina Foundation Strategy Labs, the former leader of Minnesota’s higher education agency and government relations director at the Minnesota Private College Council.
Registration open for Racial Justice Leadership Institute for higher ed and K-12 staff
Teams of higher education and K-12 staff are invited to apply by Nov. 15 for the Racial Justice Leadership Institute session on Feb. 25. The event is sponsored by the Bush Foundation, the Minnesota Private College Council and the Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative.
Globalizing the liberal arts
LinkedIn Pulse, Oct. 2, 2018
New tool for FAFSA completion
Inside Higher Ed, Oct. 3, 2018
Let's talk about impostor syndrome with incoming students
Forbes, Oct. 8, 2018
Is college for getting what you want or discovering what’s worth wanting?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 11, 2018
A humanities degree is worth much more than you realize
The Hill, Oct. 18, 2018