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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Strategic Partnerships


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The Division of Strategic Business, Education and Regional Partnerships publishes an Electronic Newsletter.

Strategic Partnerships Business, Education and Regional eNewsletter

Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman
Vice President

Strategic Business, Education and Regional Partnerships

Welcome to the Spring 2014 edition of our newsletter.

As our division works to equip students with the critical knowledge and skills employers need now and in the future, we recognize the importance of continuing to forge strong partnerships with the business community.

How are we building relationships that are mutually beneficial to business, our students, and the University? In this issue, members of the division highlight our approach, and we introduce a couple of our partners and programs. But first we share lessons in finding meaning and purpose at any stage of life or career from author and executive coach Richard Leider, who spoke at one of our recent Executive Business Breakfasts. It was an event intended for networking and partnership among business and university leaders.

Also, this will be my last newsletter at the helm of the Division. I am retiring June 30th, and yes, it will be my second retirement. (I intend to make it work this time!) My successor is yet to be named but will be on board soon and fortunate to join a strong, dynamic and effective team. This is indeed an exciting time to be promoting higher education at the speed of business.

In parting, I want to express a special "thank you" for your consideration, your collaboration and especially, your friendship.

Best regards,

Bob Hoffman signature

An interview with Richard Leider

Richard Leider

The New Life Phase: Reimagining Your Life

An interview with Richard Leider

Ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the Top 5 most respected executive coaches in the nation, Richard Leider recently provided the keynote at the Minnesota State Mankato Executive Business Breakfast. In his remarks, Leider highlighted principles and lessons about how to successfully navigate life’s transitions from his newest book Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities, co-published by AARP and Berrett-Koehler. Lessons in the book are application for the one in three people who are in transition, according to Leider. But they are especially appropriate for Baby Boomers as they move toward a new phase of life.

"Every eight seconds, someone turns 50," Leider began. "Today, it is an existential necessity to have a mid-life crisis."

According to Leider, there is a new life phase (roughly ages 50 to 80) that is changing not only mid-life, but every life stage. This change is caused first by longevity -- we’re living longer lives; second by a new productivity - by 2020, 40 to 50 percent of the workforce will be freelancers; and finally by an increasing emphasis on finding meaning.

"We want our most precious resource to count," Leider said. "And our most precious resource is time."

Meaning and the search for it were at the heart of Leider’s presentation. "In an age of technology and increasing connectivity, the human moment of personal contact is often missed," he said. As a result, people remain starved for meaning.

Leider shared a story about his 15 years of working with and interviewing the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer tribe in Africa often referred to as the "original people." In the tribe, the two most important days in a person’s life are the day of birth and the day when the question, "Why was I born and what is my purpose?" is answered.

"That is the day," Leider said, "that they give their people names."

Choice, curiosity, and courage are central to living with meaning, according to Leider. He noted that Viktor Frankl, the noted Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, whom Leider met early in his career, has called choice the "last of the human freedoms." Curiosity is what allows lives and relationships to thrive and flourish, Leider added, noting that a lack of curiosity is contributing to the high national divorce rate. Courage is the oil that allows the other two C’s to work, he said.

Find an interview with Leider that Star Tribune business columnist Neal St. Anthony conducted shortly after the breakfast meeting:

Additional interviews with Leider can be found here:

Director Michael Nolan, Program Manager Julie Nelson, Business Consultant Trevor Londgren

Director Michael Nolan,
Program Manager Julie Nelson,
Business Consultant Trevor Londgren

Helping Small Businesses Thrive

The Small Business Development Center

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) had a productive and rewarding year: Staff and consultants served 456 clients, delivered 5,764 consulting hours, helped start 30 new businesses and worked to help our clients access nearly $7 million in capital.

In addition to being named the 2013 Center of Excellence and Innovation for the Upper Midwest Region by the U.S. Small Business Administration, our proudest achievements came in helping small businesses, like the one started by Jeff Evenson.

Jeff is a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran who founded Natural Pathways with his wife Laura in North Mankato, Minn., a holistic wellness center with services that include nutritional therapy, acupuncture, massage, Reiki, yoga and Zumba. We have done considerable work with Jeff, from start-up to expansion, and from financing to marketing.

The SBDC is proud to have participated in veterans' reintegration events in our region and provided scholarships to veterans, enabling them to attend a financial literacy course: "Profit Mastery: Creating Value and Building Wealth." We continue to work with veterans to help them start businesses and assist those whose businesses were affected by their military deployment.

Jeff Evenson

Jeff Evenson, MA
Holistic Practitioner
Natural Pathways

A Small Business Success Story as told by Jeff Evenson

We literally started out with no idea of how to set up a business. Our banker, Matt Chmielewski, suggested we work closely with the SBDC. I was working full-time as an information security manager at Midwest Wireless, Alltel and Verizon in Mankato. Through each job transition, I realized that I wanted to be responsible for my own business. I'm a retired Navy Chief with 20 years of service and, if you know anything about a Navy Chief, we kind of like to do things our own way.

We were put into contact with Wendy Anderson of the SBDC. Her assistance was instrumental in navigating through the business planning and concept stages, determining financial needs, finding a location and pulling in the right construction company for renovations. She also helped us obtain local grants and city improvements funding—things we did not know existed.

Natural Pathways Holistic Wellness Center is the first business of its kind in lower North Mankato. We created it to bring together alternative health practitioners in a professional, collaborative, community setting. We offer a wide variety of alternative care practices for women, men and children. Our focus is ensuring each patient or client is heard.

In the end, our mission is simple: Help people feel better, improve their quality of life, teach and educate. This can all be done in a natural, holistic way that is very successful for our patients.

Natural Pathways is located at 229 Belgrade Ave., North Mankato, Minnesota.

Investing in Educational Leadership to Aid At-Risk Schools

Dr. Candace Raskin, Director
Center for Engaged Leadership

Investing in Educational Leadership to Aid At-Risk Schools

The Center for Engaged Leadership has an exciting, ongoing partnership with the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Aspiring Principal Development Program. The program prepares future principals to transform underperforming urban schools.

Recent Wallace Foundation research indicates that, of a school’s total impact, principals make a significant imprint on a student, and that no underperforming school has ever turned around without effective leadership. Our highly selective, rigorous program aims to prepare high-impact principals. It's demanding, full time, and collaborative – and we are proud of our students and faculty.

Certainly our "graduates" are needed. Minneapolis has designated 13 schools as "priority" and 23 as "focus" schools, an indication that thousands of Minneapolis students are not getting the education they need to be ready for college and for life.

We’re also partnering with 11 metro school districts providing professional development for their current principals through the Institute for Courageous Principal Leadership. The goal of the Institute is to advance student achievement through the continuous development of courageous and results-driven principal leaders so that all children might learn and excel.

Another exciting development: the redesign of portions of our online Master's of Educational Leadership. When complete, the curriculum will be available for classroom instruction and as online continuing education units in leadership development.

Jan Bauer, Director of Continuing Education & Professional Development

Jan Bauer, Director
of Continuing Education &
Professional Development

Continuing Education Explodes

28 New Online Certificate Programs, 100+ Courses

Continuing Education & Professional Development (CEPD) is working hard to provide excellent continuing education programs to meet business and workforce needs. We work with regional companies to evaluate in-house training programs, certify curriculum and provide transcripts of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to their clients and employees.

Last January, 28 new online certificate programs were added, with over 100 individual courses in the fields of business, healthcare, education, entrepreneurship, and more. A number of other programs are under development, including Project Management, Leading with Emotional Intelligence and an Assessment Center to coach and strengthen skills for new and aspiring leaders. As our staff grows, CEPD will continue to work hard to meet and anticipate the future needs of business and individuals looking to advance their careers.

Recently CEPD was awarded two Minnesota Job Skills Partnerships grants, which support business growth through employee training aimed at retaining and growing jobs. Kato Roofing and Berry Pallets were grant recipients; three more companies are in the application process. Kato Roofing President and CEO Vicki Hagen said, "We are just in the beginning stages of our training process; Jan and Ann Goebel have already helped us identify great opportunities to improve our internal processes, which will enable us to better serve our customers."

'The Velvet Hammer' Strikes Deals to Find and Fund Big Ideas

Ann Goebel, Director
of Strategic Business,
Education and Regional

"The Velvet Hammer" Strikes Deals to Find and Fund Big Ideas

I have been with the Strategic Business, Education and Regional Partnerships division since 2009, after serving for nine years on the engineering technology faculty. My job is to connect businesses with Minnesota State Mankato, its students and faculty for the mutual benefit of all. I’ve learned over these five years that success in building productive relationships requires tenacity. And that could be why some people refer to me as the "velvet hammer," a title in which I take pride.

This past year, Dr. Charlie Boyer, Vice President, Research, Process and Product Development, for Viracon, a commercial glass fabricator based in Owatonna, Minn., alerted me to a need: Viracon wanted to develop an innovative test methodology. He asked if it would be possible to quickly partner with Minnesota State Mankato faculty and students to explore working together on the methodology.

By connecting Dr. Boyer with Dr. Patrick Tebbe, Chair, Mechanical Engineering/Civil Engineering, I was able to place Viracon’s real-world need with a team of mechanical engineering students who were seeking a senior design project with Professor Sungwon Kim, Mechanical Engineering as Advisor. The project was a success for Viracon and the students, whose prototype testing methodology was presented at the end of spring semester.

We are a small division with a mission to find big ideas and bring them to reality. If the resource or answer can’t be found internally to develop an opportunity, then we strive to identify innovative external solutions, including funding. For example, we work regularly with CEOs and others in the business community daily to secure grant awards. And we’ve seen exciting results: grants ranging from $142,000 to $1 million. Attracting, retaining and growing jobs in Minnesota – and helping develop the talent that is needed to fill them – are results of which we are proud. We are excited to continue building lasting educational partnerships that benefit students, the University and Minnesota businesses.

Knowing that I make a difference to our business stakeholders, students and the University truly motivates me.

Senior Design Team Innovates Alongside Local Business Viracon

MSU Mankato Dept. of
Mechanical and Civil Engineering.
Bottom row from L to R:
Cody Meschke, Mark Dickey,
Nick St. Aubin, and
Subham K.C. (not pictured),
advised by Dr. Sungwon S. Kim.
Center for Engaged Leadership

Senior Design Team Innovates

Alongside Local Business Viracon as told by Dr. Sungwon S. Kim

During the past two semesters, my students and I worked with Viracon, manufacturer of glass panels for large buildings, on a senior design project in our Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering.

Large glass panels can warp during the necessary heating and strengthening treatment process. Our students were charged with looking at the current methods of warp testing and then coming up with an improved test procedure. The students invented a technique to measure warp that can be automated, an advantage over current procedures that are done by hand. They did a great job putting together a proof-of-concept design, and I am hopeful Viracon will be able to implement it on their production line.

When local businesses create opportunities for students to experience real-world problems, it can be rewarding for all. It is very special to have senior students involved in a year-long, industry-sponsored, hands-on project that allows students to apply their years of learning.

I am very happy that local businesses are interested in partnering with us on senior design projects and that they are satisfied with the results. Viracon has been great in providing input at appropriate times and funding for the parts and supplies students need, and we’re grateful for their support.

I am confident that Viracon and other local businesses, such as MTU, Toro, McNeilus, Akkerman, Emerson, Kato, Johnson Outdoor, Condux, and others are satisfied with their involvement with our mechanical engineering program students. I am very proud of the work our students have done and hope they can continue their success with employment in a local business after they graduate.

A Winning Team

L to R: Ann Goebel,
Strategic Partnerships,
and Electrical Engineering
graduate students Navya Mereddy,
Sindhuja Teegulla, and
Industry Relations Coordinator,
Raechelle Drakeford at the 2013
Robotics Alley National Conference
in St. Paul, Minnesota

A Winning Program and Team

In November, Strategic Partnerships supported a team of Mankato and Twin Cities-based staff and students from the engineering and engineering technology programs as they attended Robotics Alley's Annual National Conference in St. Paul. Robotics Alley is an initiative to spur public-private partnership in the business, research, and development of robotics and automation systems.

Raechelle Drakeford, Industry Relations Coordinator for Minnesota State Mankato’s Twin Cities Engineering (TCE) program, is responsible for finding real-world projects for students. Serving students from two-year pre-engineering and four-year programs, the TCE program allows them to complete their degrees – and to do so through self-discovery projects rather than traditional lecture classes. It is modeled after the successful Iron Range Engineering program that Minnesota State Mankato initiated in 2008.

"I joined the TCE team in November after more than 12 years as an engineer," said Drakeford. "I’ve always had a heart for students and, as program coordinator, I have the privilege of combining my passion for students with my love of engineering. TCE is a new, groundbreaking engineering program that will revolutionize the way we educate and learn. I am honored to serve on a team with pioneering students, faculty and staff."