About the President
Points of Pride
A Special Place
Dille Fund for Excellence
President's Remarks & Updates
Institutional Key Performance Indicators
Vision Task Force
University Reaccreditation 2007
Office of the President
203 Owens Hall
1104 Seventh Ave. S.
Moorhead, MN 56563
President’s Annual Report to the MSUM Alumni
April 16, 2010
In this annual report, I summarize some
highlights and transitions. Then, I describe our budget context and
current focus and direction with a presentation entitled, Fiscally
Sustainable Good to Great in the New Normal, which will be
presented next week to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
Board of Trustees next week.
Highlights and Transitions
First, let me share just a few of the highlights
that illustrate the excellence of this fine university.
- Our Business School is now
accredited by AACSB. Only 5% of business schools achieve
- Our faculty and staff take
pride in inspiring students to excel in life. That pride
is demonstrated by our 2009 scores on the National
Survey of Student Engagement, which are the
highest in composite
engagement of any system institution. Further, our
seniors rated us higher than state and regional
comparison groups; which include U of M Twin Cities,
UND, and NDSU; on three of the five major indicators:
student-faculty interaction, active and collaborative
learning, and supportive campus environment.
- Once again, our students
performed well in the national Goldwater scholarship
competition with two honorable mentions: Tony Nguyen,
Biochemistry/Biotech and Alex Freed, Physics. Our
performance exceeded any other MnSCU institution as well
as NDSU, UND, and Concordia.
- Mass Communication students won
their third regional Emmy in as many years for
Horizonlines.org, their online magazine.
I could go on with highlights for some time.
However, I refer you to our April 1 Strategic Plan Update at
and to our publication, Exemplars of Excellence.
In my second year as president, I have
concentrated on the personnel and structures we will need for the
university to thrive in the post-recession new normal. Thus, some
transitions are in process.
- Academic Affairs VP, Bette Midgarden will return to the faculty in the
Fall of 2011. Facilities and Administration VP, Dan Kirk will retire
from state service in October. We thank them both for their service to
- A campus transition team is examining all organization structures and
making recommendations for changes as needed.
- Jean Hollaar, Assistant to the President for Budget and Planning, is
serving as Interim VP for Finance and Administrative Services.
- The Academic Affairs VP position will be replaced by a Provost and
Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Student Affairs VP
will report to the Provost. This will unify academic and student affairs
in an effort to remove duplication and increase efficiency. The search
- A position of Associate VP and Dean of Undergraduate Studies has been
replaced by a new position, Dean of University College. The College will
include the Corrick Center, the honors program, living learning
communities, programs for undecided majors, and some other units
providing academic services to undergraduates across the campus. The
search is underway.
- The search for a permanent dean for the College of Arts and Humanities
is underway. In addition, with the impending retirement of Dean David
Crockett, the search for the dean of the College of Business and
Industry is now underway.
- In order to facilitate improvement of our business processes, 19 of
our staff have been trained as LEAN process facilitators. Projects are
underway and improvements on the horizon.
- We are looking at how office space is allocated and working to
relocate some units to facilitate greater customer service as well as
shared support services.
Fiscally Sustainable Good to Great in the New Normal
(from presentation by Szymanski and Jean Hollaar to the Minnesota State
Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees on April 20, 2010.
Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) is a comprehensive university
consistently serving around 7,400 students in northwest MN. Many of our
students come from families that are not well off; 85% receive some
financial aid assistance; and many are working while attending school
We see ourselves as an important component of the economic development
of the state and region. To that end, we have worked hard to preserve
access and affordability. Our undergraduate annual tuition this year was
a relatively low $5,948.
Our faculty and staff take pride in inspiring students to excel in life.
That pride is demonstrated by our 2009 scores on the National Survey of
Student Engagement, which are the highest in composite engagement of any
In the following paragraphs, we describe our current budget situation
and planning along with our approach to future planning through the
(a) situation and action in preparation for the FY 2010-2011 biennium,
(b) preparations for 2012,
(c) fiscal sustainability, and
(d) “good to great”.
Situation and Action in Preparation for the FY 2010 – 2011 Biennium
We closed a very significant budget gap by working together, and we did
so without layoffs and with the loss of very few academic programs.
Following is a summary of our budget challenge for the 2010 biennium and
- Our budget gap coming into the biennium was $9.07M (~14% of our
general fund budget). Part of the gap came from the recession-caused
decrease in state funding. However, $4.95M was a structural deficit
resulting from the combination of declining revenue and increasing fixed
expenses, coupled with limited connections between resource allocation
and revenue generation and weak fiscal controls.
- We began regular meetings with bargaining unit leaders and frequent
campus town hall meetings to help our community understand the changing
budget picture and engage them in working to cut costs.
- We initiated hiring restrictions, which remain in place, increased the
relationship between revenue generation and resource allocation, and
tightened fiscal controls.
- With the involvement of our bargaining units, we completed a campus
wide review of all academic, administrative, and support programs. The
result was a phase out of 3 academic programs (an accelerated bachelor’s
in nursing, a master’s in community counseling, and a master’s in public
human services and health administration) and the consolidation of some
support and administrative functions. Consolidation and reorganization
is still underway, with LEAN process reengineering playing a role. At
the same time, we continue to monitor all of our academic programs for
both quality and cost recovery ratios in order to promote fiscal
- The bargaining units contributed $1.2M to the solution by settling for
limited or no increases, and we are most grateful.
- We used our one-time federal stimulus funds to buy down our base costs
through early separation incentives and energy refits. The current net
decrease is $.6M for personnel costs and $.2M for energy costs. We
expect continued decrease of energy costs with possible additional
decreases in personnel costs.
- We focused on increased revenue through increased credit generation.
Specifically, we removed disincentives in our tuition and fee structure,
enhanced our summer offerings, and strengthened our marketing and
recruitment efforts. Thus far, we have seen significant increases in
student credit generation and thus in revenue, both in the academic year
and in the summer session.
Preparations for 2012
We began preparation for the 2012 biennium as we planned for 2010.
Although the exact magnitude of our decreased appropriation will not be
known for some time, we are planning for a decrease of over $3.5M.
To address this gap, we will continue to focus on increasing revenue and
decreasing costs through
- working collaboratively with bargaining units and students,
- holding monthly town hall meetings and meetings with bargaining unit
- using tight spending controls and strong relationships between
resource allocation and revenue generation,
- reengineering our business process for increased productivity and
customer service through LEAN,
- empowering employees while holding them accountable,
- restructuring to promote increased efficiency and effectiveness,
- and investing in increasing revenue (e.g., marketing, admissions
recruiting, summer session enhancement).
Given the challenges of the post-recession new normal, we believe that
we must plan long term strategies to assure that the campus endures and
prospers in the face of decreasing state support and increasing
competition for students and resources. To that end, our actions are
guided by two major themes, fiscal sustainability and moving from “good
Put simply, sustainability is long term viability or endurance. Burnside
(2009), in his handbook, Fiscal Sustainability in Theory and Practice,
noted that “one role of fiscal sustainability analysis is to provide
some indication as to whether or not a particular policy mix is
sustainable” (p. 11). Following are some of our recent initiatives
designed to increase fiscal sustainability through improved policies and
- We have tightened our budgeting policies and processes to be more
conservative in estimation of revenue and expenses, thus lessening the
probability of structural deficits.
- We have initiated policies and processes to better connect resource
allocation to revenue generation. For example, departmental cost
recovery ratios are computed annually. Departments with relatively low
cost recovery ratios are examined by the Academic Affairs Budget
Advisory Committee and required to demonstrate improvement or face
possible cuts. In addition, cost recovery ratios will be one of the
factors considered in the prioritization of requests for resource
allocation when funds become available. Put simply, where possible and
consistent with our mission, we work to allocate our resources in ways
that preserve and increase our revenues.
- We have increased both resources and accountability in the revenue
producing areas of admissions, marketing, and the Alumni Foundation. It
is still early, but we are gaining on those fronts and should see
resultant increased revenue.
- Finally, and in keeping with how we used federal stimulus funding, we
use one-time funds (e.g., portions of carry over dollars) to either
increase revenue or reduce ongoing expenses. For example, summer session
advertising increases revenue; remodeling that collocates similar
services decreases support needs; and energy refits decrease long term
"Good to Great"
According to Collins (2005) in Good to Great in the Social Sectors,
Enduring great institutions practice the principle of Preserve the Core
and Stimulate Progress, separating core values and fundamental purpose
(which should never change) from mere operating practices, cultural
norms and business strategies (which endlessly adapt to a changing
world). (p. 26)
Key to Collins’s (2005) research on great organizations is what he
refers to as the hedgehog concept, which he depicts as three
intersecting circles that address:
1) what you are deeply passionate about,
2) what you can be the best in the world at, and
3) what best drives your economic engine. (p. 17)
Our new mission and vision statements, approved last year, clarify our
core and address both the first and second aspects of the hedgehog
concept. The mission captures our passion and our essence.
Minnesota State University Moorhead is a caring community promising all
students the opportunity to discover their passions, the rigor to
develop intellectually and the versatility to shape a changing world.
Marketing, enrollment management, and fundraising, which have improved
significantly in the last year, build on our mission to drive our
economic engine; and our new strategic plan, which is aligned with the
System plan, provides direction through the following four initiatives:
- Offer competitive, high quality, rigorous academic programs and
services that provide students the versatility to shape a changing world
and support the state and regional economies.
- Increase enrollment and student success, including underrepresented
students. The number of enrolled students should reach 8,000 within the
next five years with continued improvements in student success
- Strengthen our relationships with key stakeholders, including alumni,
other donors, neighborhood groups, and the business community.
- Continue to develop infrastructures that are sustainable through
difficult economic times as well as consistent with the caring community
that is MSUM.
Significant progress has already been made in all areas, as noted by our
quarterly web update at
*Note that part of this presentation was excerpted from the MSUM March
25 Town Hall meeting