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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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MnSCU presentation captures essence of Minnesota State Mankato

A progress report to MnSCU Trustees Jan. 19 captured the essence of how Minnesota State Mankato promotes learning.

By Robb Murray, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 1/20/2006]

Photo by Robb Murray
Earleen Crayton speaking to MnSCU Board of Trustees
Earleen Crayton told the Educational Policy Committee of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board Thursday that when her home was destroyed and she had to flee, Minnesota State University welcomed her with open arms and helped her with tuition and paperwork.

ST. PAUL — There wasn't a whole lot on the line, but Minnesota State University brought out its big guns anyway.

At a meeting to give the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board a routine, periodic update on the university's progress, MSU did it in a way few, if any, institutions have in the past.

What most institutions do with a PowerPoint presentation MSU did with cleverly edited film, brilliant photos, live demonstrations of some of the university's most talked-about attractions, and powerful testimonials from alumni, including MSU's most famous alum, Glen Taylor.

The context: Each institution, every three or four years, comes before a committee of the full MnSCU board and provides an update on the key goings-on at the campus.

MSU President Richard Davenport, moments before the presentation, said, "We decided we wanted to do something to keep their attention."

Before they began, David Paskach, chairman of the Educational Policy Committee, told Davenport, "There's been a lot of chatter about this, so we're all looking forward to this presentation."

After a brief introduction, the multimedia onslaught began.

A film produced by MSU staff provided a history lesson on the institution's beginnings, which included photos taken in the late 1800s, when MSU was born. A narrator's voice details the road from Mankato Normal School, through a handful of name changes, and up to the current incarnation.

Between film clips, Davenport introduced a series of vice presidents and others to discuss details of the university's accomplishments. For example, Vice President for Technology Mark Johnson told the committee of MSU's ranking as one of the top 100 wired campuses in the country.

Alumni and a current student also were part of the presentation. Recent alumnus Matthew Collie took a spur-of- the-moment axiom — "a rolling stone gathers no moss" — and within 90 seconds created a speech about his MSU experience using the axiom as the theme.

Another alum, Glen Taylor, who spoke of the inspiring things going on at MSU, including the students' commitments to the Centennial Student Union renovation and an upcoming project to upgrade the campus' outdoor athletic facilities.

The committee also got an up-close look at one of the more popular modern attractions. "Tech Rec" — the treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines that come equipped with computers so students can surf the Web, check e-mail or watch cable television while working out — was demonstrated by committee member Michael Boltin who, in a suit and tie, hopped on a bike and navigated a little around the flat-screen monitor.

And in the most emotional part of the meeting, Earleen Crayton, a New Orleans native displaced by Hurricane Katrina, told the committee of the  welcoming atmosphere she arrived to and the generosity of people such as Taylor, who donated $500,000 to help displaced students attend MnSCU institutions.

The presentation concluded with film of an MSU choir singing the school song.

"This was fantastic," said MnSCU Board Chairman Robert Hoffman, an MSU alumnus and Waseca resident. "Not only the message, but the delivery."

Hoffman said the campus presentations are getting better and more creative. But he said MSU did a good job of using its considerable resources.

"This one really captured the essence," of what MSU is about, he said.

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