UMC Chancellor Emeritus, Donald Sargeant, highlights past success and continued service to the region
The Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota, Crookston (UMC), Donald Sargeant, highlights the success of UMC throughout history and its commitment to continued service to the region:
University of Minnesota strategic planning has been in the media nearly every week this year. One would think that planning or the need to continue to adjust to changing conditions were new ideas. They are not, of course, and in fact, continuous improvement, planning, and responding to change is part of the core values and proud history that has defined the Crookston campus for 100 years.
In 1895, the Experiment Station was created to find new ways to improve the economy of the region. In 1905, the Northwest School of Agriculture provided the educational arm for the citizens of the region to obtain new knowledge and practice the new advancements in agriculture and homemaking. In 1965, the mission of the campus was changed from a regional high school to a college offering two year degrees. In 1993, four year baccalaureate degrees focusing on applied learning, career success and advanced technology were added. In each instance, these were strategic planning decisions responding to a changing world.
For 100 years, the campus has served the region and mission of the University of Minnesota by bringing knowledge, skills, and ideas to the people of the region. The 2005 strategic plan is important work and a continuation of the historical process of studying changes and adjusting the campus curriculum and processes to better meet the new challenges facing students and the University today. A key measure of success for companies and organizations is meeting student expectations.
A study conducted by a research unit of the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities of 2005 UMC graduates noted the following:
- 90% were very satisfied/moderately satisfied with their educational experience
- 94% strongly agree/agree that they had access to the advising support to meet their goals
- 94% strongly agree/agree that they usually were able to see an advisor in a timely way
- 86% stated that UMC helped very much/quite a bit in developing ability to think analytically and logically
- 84% stated that UMC helped very much/quite a bit in developing quantitative thinking and reasoning
The study included graduates throughout the University of Minnesota system. Some areas in which UMC students rated higher than students on the other U of M campuses were (“very much/quite a bit”):
- Develop skills in using computers (87% vs. 58%)
- Prepare to pursue a career (83% vs. 57%)
- Develop leadership skills (81% vs. 60%)
The 2005 graduate survey indicates that students who graduate from UMC are quite satisfied with their educational experience. Graduates are well prepared for today’s careers and for the future. UMC, with integration of technology throughout the curriculum, is a first rate college. For example, UMC has been listed as a “Best College” in US News and World Report for the past seven years. Thus, drastic changes don’t appear to be needed.
The present planning process noted that enrollment has declined the past four years. Not surprisingly, there is a cause and effect relationship between the regional demographics, the number of degree programs and declining enrollments. UMC has a limited number of degree programs and is located in a rural area. Outcomes of the strategic planning can address these issues, and will more than likely include new programs, strengthened enrollment management, and better leveraging the technology capabilities of the campus. More programs will bring more students from farther away with a greater diversity of ambitions, backgrounds, and experiences thus strengthening the campus and its service to the region.
Attention to continuous improvement and planning has always been a campus strength. The recent buzz in the media about drastic changes has inflicted short term damage to the campus image. As the planning continues, it will build on the strengths of the campus and retain core values and traditions. The 2005 University of Minnesota planning process will bring many changes throughout the system, including UMC, but our commitment to creating and disseminating knowledge that improves the lives of people in the region will not fade.