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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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MSU seeking national prominence with big ideas

President Davenport invites community's 'Big Ideas.'

Richard Davenport, President, Minnesota State University, Mankato, 3-21-2012

Recently, The Free Press published an opinion piece by Eric W. Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, wherein he extols the value of the University of Minnesota to the state of Minnesota and cites specifi­cally how the University of Minnesota affects and bene­fits the Mankato community.

As the newest leader of the University of Minnesota he is encouraging Mankato residents to contact your legislators to support the university and their capital and budg­et requests. Kaler further states, “ The U must remain strong and vibrant ... to prepare leaders and employees for the state’s 21st century workforce ... We have a value like no other institu­tion in this state.”

I appreciate that Dr. Kaler is rela­tively new to his position and has returned to Minnesota after a lengthy career elsewhere. And, I do not ques­tion the statistics he uses nor the importance of the University of Minnesota to the state of Minnesota.

Certainly, we are proud of the University for enhancing the lives of the citizens of the state through its research, medical, educational, cultur­al, and athletic pursuits. I agree with President Kaler that the University of Minnesota “must remain strong and vibrant” if they are to continue adding value to this state.

But, I, too, am a president of another emerging great Minnesota university — a university for the peo­ple that also provides benefits to the Mankato region and to the state of Minnesota. Minnesota State University is a university that also graduates the “ best and brightest of the state’s talent supply chain and 21st century workforce.”

Our graduates receive a high quali­ty, practical education from a nation­ally and internationally renowned faculty. Faculty and students (both undergraduate and graduate) are engaged in applied research that impacts the citizens of this commu­nity and state as they strive to find practical solutions to real world problems.

Students at Minnesota State receive a strong liberal and professional education to match their passion to make a difference in the world.

We have developed hundreds of partnerships with business, industry, government and education to help prepare our graduates to move into the workforce and to become leaders in the state. The litany of nationally recognized programs, honors and scholarship at Minnesota State is extensive and would require a full page description to demonstrate the breadth of our accomplishments and the positive impact we are having in providing the future leaders for the state of Minnesota.

As a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities sys­tem, we are proud to be accessible and cost efficient. We are proud of our growing diversity and our com­mitment to being a place where peo­ple expect to go further than they thought possible — a place where big ideas are created and flourish. A place that is known as a great place to work and where students are our first priority.

Recently, there was an article in The Free Press that announced the remarkable results of an experiment to stimulate big ideas from anyone on campus. This idea evolved as I initiated a walk- around campaign on campus a couple of years ago and kept hearing great ideas from faculty, staff and students. Therefore, I placed $ 4 million on the table and challenged everyone and anyone on campus to share their big ideas and proposals. I received more than $ 25 million in innovative proposals that reinforced our reputation as a univer­sity where big ideas flourish.

As I just noted, I heard wonderful ideas from the university community this spring and now I put out the call to the Mankato community for your input. What are your big ideas for the university? How can Minnesota State have an even greater positive impact in this region? In other words, what would this community like to see from your university that it is not currently receiving? In what ways can we better partner with the public and private sectors, as well as other organizations in the communi­ty?

My goal is to maximize the value Minnesota State brings to the com­munity and region. So, please write to me directly, or e- mail me at and share your thoughts and ideas. I promise I will respond to anyone willing to take time to share their big ideas.

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