Susan Shumer memorialized with joyful stories, laughter and Community Engagement Fund

A memorial this week brought friends and colleagues together to remember Susan Shumer, who died on Nov. 19.

Shumer was the founding director of the Center for Community-Based Learning (CCBL), which became the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship prior to her January 2013 retirement as director emerita.

She came to Metropolitan State as its academic internship coordinator in 1992. In 1996, she co-founded CCBL and became its director. Her work was always guided by the convictions that Metropolitan State was built upon having strong relationships with the community, and that we must collaborate internally if we want to have effective collaborations externally. She made sure the university’s founding commitment to honoring community-situated knowledge remained central to our work.

Her influence led to many program innovations and national recognitions for Metropolitan State. Thanks to her vision and industry, community engagement as an approach to teaching, learning, and scholarship became “institutionalized”—in the finest sense of that word—at Metropolitan State, anchoring an institutional ethos and reputation as an “engaged campus” into which we continue to live and grow.

Greg Mellas, director of the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship. President Ginny Arthur; and Shumer Family, husband, Rob, and daughters, Jessica and Aimee.

President Ginny Arthur at the memorial announced the creation of a fund to support Shumer’s legacy of community-based scholarship. The fund will be administered by the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship.

“I am very grateful to announce the establishment of the Shumer Community Engagement Fund. This fund, founded on combined gifts from Susan’s estate and from Rob (Shumer), will support programming in the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship,” President Arthur said.

“On behalf of the entire university community, I want to express our deepest appreciation for this gift from Susan and Rob, and to the family for bringing it to fruition.”

Shumer’s high points  at Metropolitan State are marked by many   accomplishments, including the following:

  • 1998: Received a HUD “Community Outreach Partnership Centers” grant to work in collaboration with community partners on affordable housing in the East Side;
  • 1999: Began efforts to position Metropolitan State for Campus Compact’s “Engaged Campus” designation;
  • 2001: Launched Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders) in collaboration with MCTC;
  • 2002: Received funding from Minnesota Office of Higher Education to fund From Programs to Practice: Building the Engaged Campus;
  • 2003: Established the “American Democracy Project” at Metropolitan State, in partnership with the New York Times and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities;
  • 2003: Metropolitan State and LISC were named finalists for the “Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaborations;”
  • 2005: Developed the Circle of Engaged Learning, a visual representation of a social change model that connects civic engagement to the mission and vision of the university;
  • 2005: Organized the university’s inaugural observance of Constitution Day – A conversation with members of the Minnesota Supreme Court: The Significance of Supreme Court Nominations in the Constitutional Context, and Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom;
  • 2006: Established the President’s Circle of Engagement program to recognize faculty members for integration of community engagement into their teaching and scholarship;
  • 2007: Hosted Nobel Laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu during Metropolitan State’s hosting of youthrive’s PeaceJam conference;
  • 2008: Conducted institutional self-study to secure the Carnegie Foundation Elective Community Engagement Classification for Metropolitan State (Susan also contributed to the renewal of this classification in 2015);
  • 2008: Launched Metro State Votes, a series of activities and programs to inform, engage, and involve the university community in civic action during each election season;
  • 2009: Metropolitan State was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction (the first of two such recognitions of the university by the Obama administration);
  • 2012: Developed and launched the “Community Engagement” course designation process to assist students in identifying community-engaged learning opportunities in the course schedule;
  • Led the process that resulted in re-naming “CCBL” as “ICES,” broadening its scope and placing it on an enterprise-wide footing within the university.

University ombudsperson is there to advocate for and support students

Renne Beaulieu-Banks
Renne Beaulieu-Banks

Metropolitan State University continues to address and provide resources available to students.

Renee Beaulieu-Banks currently serves as the ombudsperson and American Indian Student Success Coordinator.

Beaulieu-Banks’ primary responsibility as ombudsperson is to provide advocacy and support for students who may be engaged in the grade appeal or student complaint process. Students should consult the ombudsperson in the event they believe they were treated unfairly in the grading process. With many years of service and commitment to students, Beaulieu-Banks’ is available help navigate the processes. More information about the Academic Appeals Procedure can be found on the University website here.

Jan. 23: Enterprise Service Management at Metropolitan State

Over the last year, IT Services has focused on service management and continuous improvement by identifying, documenting and improving the services provided to our university. This also included reviewing, mapping and implementing processes, along with professional development to ensure quality and accountability. The goal of this initial effort was to clearly define services that are highly accessible and transparent for our students, faculty and staff.

IT Services is excited that the Center for Online Learning, Institutional Research, Building Services and Marketing are in collaboration with this initiative to form Metropolitan State’s Enterprise Service Management platform. Using industry best practices, we are moving toward a university-wide, enterprise service management strategy to ensure we have the people, processes and technology in place to support Metropolitan State University’s mission, vision and goals.

Our shared vision and enterprise service management focus has the following characteristics:

  • Customer-centric and service focused
  • Uniform and simplified
  • Contributes to easy sharing of knowledge and ability for customers to self-help
  • Self-service 24/7/365 anywhere you have internet access
  • Manages customer expectations, provides transparency
  • Adds value for students and employees across campuses, across departments

To experience and interact with our new service portal go to  At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23 at in Founders Hall Auditorium, Saint Paul Campus, there will be a meet and greet to showcase this new resource, introduce ourselves, and answer questions you might have.

As a part of this initiative, we collaborated with other early adopters who had requirements for a new ticketing system with the focus of providing services to campus.  In March of 2017, a new service management and project management solution was selected.  IT Services, the Center for Online Learning, and Institutional Research collaborated to define a first phase of implementation that focused on replacing Oracle RightNow (RNT, Oracle Service Cloud) for a ticketing solution.  TeamDynamix was selected in July 2017 as our solution, and we are going live with the first phase of this project early January 2018.  There are departments on campus that will continue to use Oracle RightNow (RNT) as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution.

In scope for the first phase was the creation of a service catalog (a menu customers can select services they want to request), knowledge base and customer portal where you can track the status of your tickets and requests.  All information has been completely reviewed for accuracy and organized for ease of access. Our approach is for this new tool to be intuitive for our students, faculty, and staff.  We are assigning an owner to each service and knowledge base article to ensure the information is routinely updated and accurate.

The next phase of this project includes Building Services and Marketing.  Both are eager to build out their own service catalog, knowledge base and ticketing system within TeamDynamix, with an eye toward future implementation of a shared project management solution.  In the future, we are looking to benefit our university by applying enterprise service management and project management best practices with additional departments joining this platform.

Gov. Dayton’s public works proposal would create an estimated 22,950 jobs

Gov. Dayton’s public works proposal would invest in world class colleges and universities, improve and repair state buildings and other critical infrastructure statewide Dayton’s public works proposal would build more than 218 projects across the state, creating thousands of new Minnesota jobs
Minnesota communities have requested $858 million in additional investments in local infrastructure projects, demonstrating need for significant bonding bill this session

ST. PAUL, Minnesota. – Gov. Mark Dayton today introduced a $1.5 billion public works proposal that would make urgently-needed investments to build world-class colleges and universities for Minnesotans, and improve and repair state buildings and other critical infrastructure across the state. Given the significant need for investments in higher education institutions statewide, Gov. Dayton’s proposal would invest $542 million at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State campuses. An additional $998 million would be directed to improving state buildings, building affordable housing, repairing clean water infrastructure, and other infrastructure projects across Minnesota.

Gov. Dayton’s public works proposal would create an estimated 22,950 jobs* and support statewide economic growth. Thanks to the governor’s sound fiscal management, the State of Minnesota has a triple-A bond rating and over $3.5 billion in bonding capacity this year. Gov. Dayton’s public works proposal would remain well within these limits – protecting the state’s financial standing, while making critical investments in our economy and our future. The governor’s proposal is designed to make state resources go further, by leveraging more than $570 million in private, local, and federal investment in Minnesota’s infrastructure.

“Since 2011, we have made many important investments in Minnesota’s aging classrooms, buildings, and other critical infrastructure,” said Gov. Dayton. “But those investments have not kept pace with the enormous need for infrastructure improvements across Minnesota. Years of underinvestment have shortchanged our economy, our higher education institutions, and the vitality of our communities.

“Now is the time to make substantial investments in our state’s future. My public works proposal would make significant, needed investments to provide world-class educations for our students, guarantee clean, affordable water for more of our communities, and ensure our state has the infrastructure necessary to grow and compete in the modern economy.”

Gov. Dayton’s public works proposal prioritizes strategic investments in higher education, would improve and maintain state buildings and other infrastructure, build more affordable housing, and deliver clean, reliable, affordable drinking water for Minnesotans. These urgently-needed investments also would protect the state’s long-term fiscal health. Approximately 50 percent of state and higher education buildings are currently in “fair” or worse condition. It costs an average of 70 percent more to repair a structure in “poor” condition than maintain a building in “fair” condition.

“Investment in state buildings and other critical infrastructure has not kept pace with the growing need. It would cost an estimated $8 billion over the next decade simply to restore and maintain our current state and higher education infrastructure,” said Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans. “Gov. Dayton’s $1.5 billion public works bill remains well within the state’s $3.5 billion in available bonding capacity. The governor’s proposal is a smart investment in Minnesota’s future – reducing a backlog of deferred maintenance before the costs of these urgently-needed projects escalate further.”

Governor recommends $180 million to address deferred maintenance at all 54 Minnesota State campuses

$94.5 million in capital projects on 16 campuses also recommended

ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 16, 2018 – Today Gov. Dayton announced his top priority for this year’s legislative session: investments in infrastructure, including $180 million in asset preservation and replacement projects that would touch all 54 campuses within the Minnesota State system.  He also recommended $63.0 million in state funds be combined with $31.5 million in system funds be allocated to pay for 16 campus-based renovation projects to meet the needs of 21st century learners.

“Thank you, Gov. Dayton, for the strong recommendation for investment in the assets our colleges and universities maintain for students on behalf of the people of Minnesota,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor for Minnesota State.

Investing in world class colleges and universities

The top priority within the Minnesota State request to the legislature this year is asset preservation and replacement funds, with 40 percent of projects related to roofing, as Minnesota State is sheltered by 301 acres of roofs.  The next largest category of spending – 21 percent – will be used to maintain or replace the more than 2,600 different pieces of HVAC equipment, such as boilers and air handlers at the system’s 54 campuses.  Investments such as these in asset preservation ensure that campus operating dollars are dedicated to improving educational outcomes instead of repairing buildings.  Funding asset preservation projects will remain a top priority in future years, as well, due to a backlog of $913 million of deferred maintenance.

“Every year, Minnesota State welcomes more than 375,000 students who dream of being our state’s next generation of workers and leaders,” Malhotra said.  “The facilities supported in the governor’s recommendation are the bricks and mortar where the magic of higher education takes place; where our students’ dreams for a better future come true; and where they become the talent Minnesota absolutely must have if it is going to continue to thrive in today’s knowledge-based global economy.”

In addition to the asset preservation recommendation, Gov. Dayton also recommended that the legislature fund capital projects on 16 different campuses.

“These capital projects are designed to directly benefit students and provide a much-needed expansion of training and education in fields such as allied health, nursing, trades, STEM disciplines, business, information technology, education, and the liberal arts,” Malhotra said.  “I’m very grateful for Gov. Dayton’s leadership and advocacy for public higher education, for the students who benefit from it, and for the state’s future workforce.”

For additional information about the Minnesota State 2018 Capital Request, visit

Erica Rasmussen wins the 2018 Minnesota Book Artist Award

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library announces Erica Spitzer Rasmussen as the winner of the 2018 Minnesota Book Artist Award for her work entitled The Love Affair.

Sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group, this annual award is presented as part of the Minnesota Book Awards with the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), and recognizes a Minnesota book artist or book artist collaborative group for excellence of a new artistic work. Winners also demonstrated proficiency and quality in the book arts through three pieces of supporting previous work, as well as an ongoing commitment and significant contributions to Minnesota’s book arts community.
The Love Affair is a mixed-media sculptural book handcrafted from pieces of old family letters. Rasmussen was inspired to create the piece when she inherited two handmade wooden boxes filled with love letters exchanged between her maternal grandparents in the 1930s. She delicately cut the letters apart and interspersed them, binding them with a Coptic stitch. To retain the couple’s privacy, Rasmussen cut the pages small enough that significant content couldn’t be read by others. She then placed the book inside one of the wooden boxes crafted by her grandfather, in the twisted form of an infinity symbol, to suggest that the couple might continue their communion from life to death.

Members of the award committee praised the project as “playful, clever, and reverential in its reference to the art of love letters, 17th Century fashion, stitching, and symbolism.” Said one judge, “the classical essence in Rasmussen’s piece gives way to an avant-garde play on the notion of a book, with the written letters rendered inaccessible, untouchable and unreadable…and yet, the narrative, the history, and the intimacy are mysteriously palpable.”

Rasmussen is an artist who creates handmade paper garments, neckware and small editions of hand-bound books. She received her BFA and MFA at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), which included coursework in Mexico and Greece. Her current work explores issues of identity and corporeality. Rasmussen is a recipient of an Artist’s Assistance Fellowship (1999) and an Artist’s Initiative Grant (2015) from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Other professional highlights include a papermaking residency in Vienna, Austria (2010), a solo exhibition in Mexico City, Mexico (2012), and a bookbinding residency in Venice, Italy (2016). Her work has been featured in such publications as FiberArts magazine, Surface Design Journal, American Craft magazine, Hand Papermaking magazine, and the Huffington Post. Rasmussen teaches studio arts as a full professor at Metropolitan State University. Her artwork is exhibited and collected internationally.

A retrospective exhibition celebrating The Love Affair will be on display Feb. 1 to March 13 in the Cowles Literary Commons on the second floor of the Open Book building, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis. A reception and artist presentation will take place, from 6 to 8 p.m Friday, March 9, at the Open Book building. The exhibit will remain open during the Meet the Finalists event for the Minnesota Book Awards, 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 13. Rasmussen will also receive special recognition and an award at the 30th annual Minnesota Book Awards Celebration on Saturday, April 21, at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Saint Paul, sponsored by Education Minnesota.

Star Alert Mass-Notification System

Metropolitan State University operates an emergency mass-notification system called Star Alert, to notify members of our University community about any emergency that may threaten safety or any incident that may impact normal campus operations.  This system, which is also used by our Minnesota State partner colleges, delivers messages to students, staff, Resident Faculty, and Community Faculty by phone, text, or e-mail.  Workplace or other emergency numbers and e-mails are regularly added to the Star Alert system for registered students, staff, and faculty.

Each student or employee can view their contact information and, if interested, can make changes to their phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and can choose what methods Star Alert will use to contact them.  Through the Star Alert Portal, you can also choose to be contacted by text (SMS) messaging.  If you are not interested in adding numbers or making changes, you do not have to do anything; you will receive alerts.

A link to the Star Alert Portal:  Star Alert Portal.

A link to the Star Alert Instructional Document:  Star Alert Instructional Document.

As a first-time user making changes, you will need to first click on the “Sign Me Up!” link and enter your First Name, Last Name, your Metropolitan State University e-mail address, and a new password.  You will also be asked to enter an identification code.  This code is your Minnesota State-issued StarID username.  Once you are registered, you will be able to log in, view, and modify your contact record.  Please note that some fields cannot be changed.


Jan. 17 marks 56 years for collective bargaining and Executive Order 10988

If you walk around Metropolitan State on Wednesday, Jan. 17, you might notice a lot more staff and faculty with shirts or buttons calling out their various bargaining units: Inter Faculty Organization (IFO); Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 5 (AFSCME Council 5); Middle Management Association (MMA); and Minnesota State University Association of Administrative Service Faculty (MSUAAF). This is done in commemoration of the signing of Executive Order 10988, an important milestone in the struggle for public sector workers to organize collectively to negotiate with public employers.

On Jan. 17, 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988, “Employee-Management Cooperation in the Federal Sector,” giving federal employees, among other things, the right to engage in collective bargaining through labor organizations. This order came to be as a result of the findings of the Task Force on Employee-Management Relations in the Federal Service, which President Kennedy had created on June 22, 1961. Aside from providing federal employees a seat at the table in forming and implementing policies and procedures, the order moved states to adopt similar provisions for state government employees.

In the intervening 50 years, Executive Order 10988 has been expanded on and improved by a succession of presidents, from both parties, culminating in President Jimmy Carter’s signing of Title VII, the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute into law on Oct. 13, 1978. This codified the provisions for collective bargaining rights for federal employees, and created the U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority.

Our university community functions well because of staff and faculty who are represented by bargaining units empowered by Executive Order 10988. Collective bargaining keeps the university professionally competitive, ensuring that capable, qualified individuals are here to meet student needs. On Jan. 17, take a moment to acknowledge the contributions of the union members who make our “university without barriers” a powerful partner in supporting students on their journey of lifelong learning.

Robert Bresin, Fall 2017 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student

Robert Bresin
Robert Bresin

A Maplewood resident has been selected a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Robert Bresin, who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Liberal Arts. He was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Almost four years ago, Bresin was working as a certified veterinary technician. He decided it was time for a change, and made a calculated move toward furthering his education.

“I love just having class one night a week, it really made working a lot easier,” Bresin said.

He decided he would attend Metropolitan State University, based on its flexible class schedules, which would allow him to continue working full-time. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, two classes at a time and progressed toward his degree.

Now, four years later, Bresin looks back on his college experience. “For me, graduation means that I can finally change careers and try to find something where I can continue to learn while finding meaningful work in the community,” Bresin said. Heartened by his accomplishment, he notes, “my family expected me to have a bachelor’s degree ten years ago.”

With his degree in hand, Bresin looks to the future. “I’m going to look for a job in advocacy, social services or public policy.  I need a year or two off from school, but then I plan to pursue a master’s degree, likely for [Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership] MAPL or public policy.”

Bresin hopes to spend more time reading, playing tennis, and just being outside. He will continue work as a veterinary technician while he seeks a new position in his field of study.

Beldonna Chakoutahi, Fall 2017 College of Individualized Studies Outstanding Student

Beldonna Chakoutahi
Beldonna Chakoutahi

A Saint Louis Park resident has been selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Beldonna Chakoutahi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Individualized Studies. She was one of 1,368 students receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Metropolitan State’s 101st commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Chakoutahi and her wife, Shadi, live in Saint Louis Park with their four “fur babies,” a Boston terrier (Audrey), Italian greyhound (Enzo), short-hair kitty (Oscar), and long-hair kitty (Mona).

Regarding her future plans, Chakoutahi said, “I would love to get my master’s in Urban Education. Eventually I would like to teach or become a counselor in my old high school South High in Minneapolis.”

Chakoutahi completed her associate’s degree in Occupational Studies (Alcohol and Drug Counseling) with honor roll recognition from International Career Development Center in 2013 before joining Metropolitan State University. She is currently a driver for Lyft.

At Metropolitan State, Chakoutahi was a member of Lavender Bridge and vice president of Voices of Indian Council for Educational Success (VOICES).  She is an active member of the Minnesota chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Academic advisor and community faculty member, Stanley Hatcher, said, “When she [Chakoutahi] first came to Metropolitan State she was an undecided student. She started out taking Metro 101. And based her previous experience in the workforce and all the classes offered at Metro, I was able to convince her to take Individualized Studies. Her focus was in Addiction and Community Counseling. Watching her grow as a student, she has done a remarkable job academically and in the community helping people with addiction.”

A newsletter for the Metropolitan State University community