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Dr. Kyle Swanson new Dean of the College of Sciences at Metropolitan State

Metropolitan State University has named Dr. Kyle Swanson as the new dean of the College of Sciences. He will start at Metropolitan State on Monday, July 3.

As dean, Swanson will be responsible for providing vision, leadership and strategic direction for the College of Sciences at the University. Dean Swanson will also serve on the President’s Cabinet.

Dr. Swanson has been at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the last 20 years and is currently serving in the role of chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. In addition, he is also a special assistant to the provost for Budget and Planning.

Swanson earned a PhD in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s in mathematics and physics from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. In addition, he completed a postdoctoral fellow program in atmospheric oceanic sciences at Princeton University in New Jersey.

“I am proud and excited that Metropolitan State University has recruited Dr. Kyle Swanson to serve as the next dean of the College of Sciences. Dr. Swanson has an outstanding record as an educator, academic leader, researcher, and administrator,” said university President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur. “With his long experience serving at a public, urban university in the upper Midwest, he brings visionary, collegial leadership to an energetic faculty and a growing college. I look forward to the powerful ways in which the College of Sciences will continue to excel in serving our students and the Twin Cities metropolitan region in the months and years to come.”

Search committee members included:

  • Carl Polding, dean of the College of Individualized Studies
  • Pauline Danforth, advisor, College of Sciences
  • Julio Vargas-Essex, director of Admissions
  • Cynthia Harley, assistant professor, College of Sciences
  • Janice Kwallek, office manager, College of Sciences
  • Mike Stein, professor, Information and Computer Sciences
  • Katherine Johnson, associate professor, Mathematics

Swanson will assume the position currently being held by Interim Dean Sue Fitzgerald, who was appointed after Dean Thomas Nelson’s death in August 2016.

Nominations are open for annual Student Leadership Awards

It is the last week to nominate candidates for the annual Student Leadership Awards which recognizes individual leadership and the programming and events that Metropolitan State University student organizations conduct. If you attended events over the last year and were impressed, take a moment to recognize the hosting student group.

The deadline for submitting nominations is 9:30 a.m., Friday, May 19. Students, faculty and staff are eligible to cast nominations using this link.

The Female and Male Student Leader of the Year awards and the Perseverance Award are given to students who exhibit exceptional leadership traits at the university or in their life.

The “Perseverance Award” is similar but includes the additional criteria of having persevered over a life challenge while recently graduating from Metropolitan State (December 2016 and May 2017 qualify).  While most students are proud to have persevered, the nomination committee asks as a show of respect for privacy that approval is obtained from the student before nominating them.

These awards are not necessarily related to student organizations.

The “Student Organization Advisor of the Year” award is directly related to student groups. Other awards center on student organizations and their work at the university and include: “Student Organization of the Year” and “Program/Event of the Year.”

Winners will be recognized at an awards dinner, Wednesday, May 24 in the Great Hall, New Main, Saint Paul Campus. Click here to RSVP to the event.


Michigan Public Radio reviews Nicholas Hartlep’s collected critique of debt-based higher education system

"The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education"
“The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education”

The “Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education” is a series of essays co-edited by Nicholas Hartlep, assistant professor in the School of Urban Education at Metropolitan State.

Michigan Public Radio obtained an advance copy of the collection, mentioned in an article on student loan debt.

May 12: Westbound Interstate 94 temporary long-term traffic changes begin

The right lane (local access lane) and all ramps on westbound Interstate 94 between Century Avenue and Mounds Boulevard will be closed to traffic beginning Friday night, May 12, through the following afternoon, May 13, to complete all long-term traffic changes, including reopening and closing a series of ramps throughout the project area.

New long-term traffic changes begin this weekend

Ramp openings:

The following ramps are currently closed and will reopen on Saturday, May 13:

  • Westbound I-94 to southbound Highway 61/Etna Street
  • Westbound I-94 to Hudson Road
  • Hudson Road. to Westbound I-94 (the easternmost on-ramp in front of 3M)

New and continuing long-term ramp closures:

The following ramp closures will be in place from Saturday, May 13, through mid- summer, unless otherwise noted:

  • Westbound I-94 to Mounds Boulevard
  • Southbound Highway 61/Etna Street to westbound I-94
  • Northbound Highway 61 to westbound I-94
  • Westbound I-94 to White Bear Avenue
  • WB I-94 to Century Avenue. This closure will remain in effect for approximately one month.

In addition, the following ramps will remain closed through mid-summer, unless otherwise noted:

  • Southbound Highway 61/Etna St. to eastbound I-94
  • Northbound Highway 61 to eastbound I-94. This closure will remain in effect through fall 2017.
  • White Bear Avenue to westbound I-94
  • Burns Avenue to eastbound I-94 (McKnight ramp)
  • Hudson Place to eastbound I-94 (McKnight ramp)
  • Hudson Road to westbound I-94 (the westernmost on-ramp in front of 3M)

Detour maps for the upcoming ramp closures can be found on the project website.

Dr. Amy Gort named new provost at Metropolitan State University

Metropolitan State University has named Dr. Amy Gort as the new Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. She will start at Metropolitan State on Monday, July 3.

Amy S. Gort
Amy S. Gort

The announcement was made to the university faculty, staff and student body early Monday, May 8. As provost, Gort will be responsible for providing vision and strategic direction for the university’s development and delivery of academic programs and for leading the academic and student affairs division. She will also serve on the President’s Executive Council and the President’s Cabinet.

Gort served as dean of Arts and Sciences at Augsburg College since 2009. She had previously served as dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of Biology at Concordia University, Saint Paul. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gort lives in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Her passion for teaching was evident during her scientific training as she sought out opportunities as a teaching assistant, research mentor, and adjunct faculty member. She is experienced and well-versed in strategic enrollment planning, determining budgets for new academic programs, and prioritizing resources to encourage enrollment growth. She has developed collaborative relationships with local community colleges to strengthen articulation agreements, contribute to customized transfer student curriculum plans.

“Our search for a provost and executive vice president was nationwide in scope and attracted a strong pool of applicants. During and after the finalists’ campus visits, faculty, staff, and students generously shared their reflections on the candidates,” President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur wrote in an announcement to the university community. “There was a clear consensus that Dr. Gort’s outstanding academic experience, passion for student access and success, and affinity for our urban mission and communities make her an outstanding candidate for this critical role in our shared work.”

Search committee members included:

  • Marcia Hagen, professor, College of Management
  • Nantawan Lewis, professor of religious studies, College of Liberal Arts
  • Julie Maxson, associate professor, College of Sciences
  • Brenda Merrill, associate professor, College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Alec Sonsteby, associate professor, Library Services
  • Charles Tedder, associate professor, College of Individualized Studies
  • Craig Hansen, representing the academic deans
  • Joe Rockers, MSUAASF representative
  • Kate Southwick, MSUAASF representative
  • Dina Inderlee, MMA representative
  • Chris Gevara, AFSCME representative
  • Patty McCann, providing support

Dr. Gort will assume the position currently held by Dr. Carol BormannYoung, professor of management, who was appointed interim provost in May 2016. BormannYoung accepted the interim position after Arthur, who was provost at the time, was named president last spring.

Nine named as Outstanding Students spring 2017

Nine students were named as Outstanding Students  for spring 2017 semester.  The students were recognized at Metropolitan State University’s 100th commencement exercise,  May 1, at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul. Approximately 1,100 students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees with 761 students participating in the spring ceremony.

Dietrich Anderson, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs

Dietrich Anderson
Dietrich Anderson

Seven years ago, Dietrich Anderson, Roseville, was facing a judge in drug court. Today, Dietrich stands tall as a summa cum laude graduate with a degree in alcohol and drug counseling.

Working jobs in the food industry through most of his 20s and 30s, Anderson felt the wear of the grind. He was also in the throes of addiction, which made his life unmanageable. His self-worth at an all-time low, Anderson found himself in drug court.

“My journey to recovery started with my participation in the Dakota County Drug Court program. I would learn to love myself again and rediscover that I could make something of my life,” he said.

With this help and the support of his family, Anderson began his way to brighter future. He is graduating as the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. He graduated with a degree in drug and alcohol counseling.

In 2014, Anderson transferred to Metropolitan State University from Saint Paul College. He immediately found support and direction in his advisor, Karin Jax. “Since day one she has been a true supporter, advisor, and cheerleader for my success while at Metro,” Anderson said. Anderson also credits several other faculty members who regularly went above and beyond to enrich his experience at Metropolitan State.

Anderson worked two jobs through most of his college experience. He eventually left one of those jobs in favor of a full-time internship. He credits maintaining his sobriety and practicing self-care for keeping him successful in his studies and work life.

“Being in recovery is like having diabetes; one has to continually do maintenance,” he says.

Anderson maintains his healthy lifestyle by staying busy, and it means a lot to him to remain accountable to family and friends. Currently, Anderson is interning with NuWay House, Inc., a private, nonprofit organization that serves people recovering from substance use and mental health disorders. After graduation, Anderson hopes to become a licensed drug and alcohol counselor with NuWay House, Inc. He recently applied and interviewed for a master’s program at Metropolitan State University, and his ambitions don’t stop there.

“I may even go on to get my PhD in mental health someday, but one step at a time.”

Erin Crosby, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Erin Crosby

Years ago, Erin Crosby, Minneapolis, was living a self-described carefree life.

“I spent most of my free time playing tennis, and working four-hour shifts in a toy store,” she said.

Crosby wished she could have warned herself for the future.

“Now that I’m in grad school full time and working 12-hour shifts in a hospital, I can’t believe I could ever find anything to complain about,” she says. “If I had a time machine, I would certainly have some sage advice for 15-year-old Erin.

A lot of hard work later, Crosby is graduating as the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She graduated with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

She describes her time at Metropolitan State University as “glorious; busy.” Sacrificing time with family, and maintaining her own sanity proved be challenging during Crosby’s four years at Metropolitan State.

“The biggest challenge being an adult student is to find a balance between school, my family, friends, work, and my sanity,” she said.

For Crosby, graduation means her husband never having to hear about advanced care planning, or any number of the projects that took over her life for two years. Graduation also marks the end of an era.

“I’ve overcome many challenges, and made a lot of sacrifices. I’d like to say that I should get all the credit, but truthfully, the people who should be getting recognized are those who provided unwavering, endless encouragement for someone in full-time school. The support from them means everything to me,” Crosby said.

Outside of school and work, Crosby likes to wake up early, drink “loads of coffee,” and enjoys some time to herself. She also exercises and takes various fitness classes, including an aerial fitness class.

With more free time, Crosby looks forward to enjoying her family and friends, including the friends she made at Metropolitan State University.

“We were all strangers in the beginning of this journey, which feels like a lifetime ago. I have made many lifelong friends, and cannot wait to see what we all do in the future. I have learned so much from the other students and professors, and am grateful for all of them.”

Katrinna Dexter, School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Katrinna Dexter, Rochester, had already double-majored in criminal justice and psychology before deciding to return to school to obtain her master’s degree. Dexter found the master’s program in criminal justice offered by Metropolitan State University, was a perfect fit and she never looked back.

“I have been enrolled at Metro for the past two years in the masters of science in criminal justice program where I have maintained a 4.0 GPA… it is extremely important to both me and my family and I cherish the accomplishment,” Dexter said about her most recent scholarly endeavor.

Dexter is graduating as the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She will graduate with her master’s of science in criminal justice degree .

Having her master’s degree isn’t enough for Dexter. She plans to continue her education; setting her sights on juris doctor, as well as doctor of philosophy degrees. “I look forward to advancing my education, while simultaneously building a national platform to impact the way our juvenile justice system works for and treats youth,” Dexter says.

Already having worked in nearly every aspect of the criminal justice field, Dexter will continue on her path to educational greatness, with her focus on the equitable treatment of youth within our justice system.

Kay Erwin, College of Management

Kay Erwin

Raising children, volunteering, and taking classes at her local community college, Kay Erwin, Rochester, found herself at a crossroads: “I was worried that my job might be eliminated and I wouldn’t be able to acquire an equal job without a bachelor’s degree, so I made the decision to enroll at Metropolitan State University.”

Balancing work, family and school, Erwin was rarely seen without her homework nearby.

“I would do homework after work, before work, on vacation, in the car (as a passenger); I spent almost all my lunch hours shut away in a conference room doing homework,” she says.

Through to her diligence, and the help around the house from her husband, Erwin is now graduating as the College of Management’s Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.

Erwin was proud to have the opportunity to set an example for her children, “they have watched me successfully balance family, work, school, and volunteer service,” she says. “They were able to see, from my example, that great effort yields great results.” Her family plans a celebratory trip to Florida later this year.

Although content with her current employer, Erwin hopes to use her new degree to leverage herself into a new position, “where I am making a difference in the lives of those in our community. My goal is not to make large sums of money but rather to bring others up by helping them to meet basic needs and ultimately realize their potential – just as I have through completing my degree.”

With her newfound free time, Erwin will continue to find fulfillment and happiness through volunteering. She can also be found in her garden, paddling her canoe, and traveling.

Tom Krueger, School of Urban Education

Tom Krueger
Tom Krueger

Tom Krueger, Minneapolis, is a familiar face in the Minnesota theater scene. As a board member and coordinator of student leadership of the Minnesota Thespians, he has organized year-round youth leadership development for 18 students from around Minnesota.

Krueger has also coordinated with high school educators and the Guthrie Theater Education Department to strengthen educational theater across the state. In this role, he collaborated with students and production staff, producing all-state shows, empowering students to use theater as a vehicle for social change. He has also been involved with the Rosetown Playhouse where he has been both the project manager as well as stage manager. Here, Krueger helped coordinate the Karen Summer Play for middle and high school students who are refugees. Krueger also worked to support multigenerational cast, volunteers, and staff for productions involving more than 100 participants.

Krueger is graduating as the Metropolitan State University’s School of Urban Education Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Krueger works in human resources for the Roseville Area Schools district. He negotiates contracts on behalf of the district as well as supporting the district through hiring and onboarding new employees. He is the recipient of the City of Roseville Human Rights Commission Award for his work with the Roseville Area Middle School Theatre Program. He works to set a tone for cultural competence and equity for applicants and current employees.

Krueger also serves his community through volunteering with a number of organizations, including Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minneapolis NAACP, The Friendly Streets Initiative, Nice Ride Minnesota, and Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. He is also a frequent observer at Minneapolis Public Schools board meetings.

Bukola Oriola, College of Individualized Studies

Bukola Oriola
Bukola Oriola

The College of Individualized Studies Outstanding Student for spring 2016 semester and student speaker at Metropolitan State University’s 100th commencement exercise is Bukola Oriola, Anoka.

She was presented with a bachelor’s degree in individualized studies with focus on community leadership and diversity.

Oriola is a Twin Cities activist and internationally-known figure for her advocacy work in the fight against human trafficking. In 2005, Oriola left her life and her publishing job in Nigeria in favor of a new life in the United States. Not long after arriving, she found herself in an abusive relationship and spent two years living the horror that is human trafficking. Oriola was able to remove herself from that situation and was determined to help others. Already holding a degree in mass communications, Oriola decided to return to school, and in 2014 she enrolled in the individualized studies program at Metropolitan State University.

“College is where you learn to project yourself in ways that people can understand and you can positively impact the community,” she says.

Through her advocacy and degree program work, in 2016, Oriola was appointed to a two-year term on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. In that year, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend an inaugural meeting of the council with then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Before her return to university, Oriola braided hair to make ends meet. She was nervous about returning to school, but in her upbringing education was a priority. Her parents made sure that all of their children graduated from college.

“I watched my parents sell our most prized belongings to put us through school,” she said of her parents’ dedication.

As part of Oriola’s individualized studies program, she and another Metropolitan State student researched and designed a trip to Nigeria to visit colleges and polytechnic schools to spread a message of hope and speak about her experiences in human trafficking. The trip proved to be a massive success; their message reached an estimated 20 million students in just ten days.

Oriola is now graduating with honors and was even asked to speak at her commencement ceremony. Graduating is bittersweet for Oriola, because her parents have died, and most of her family will not be able to travel to the U.S. to celebrate with her. She looks forward to having more time to dedicate to “being the voice for victims and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.”

Betsy Salvatore, College of Liberal Arts

Betsy Salvatore
Betsy Salvatore

For years, Betsy Salvatore, Shoreview, was a busy stay-at-home mom. She volunteered in the classroom, designed the newsletter for her kids’ elementary school, created websites for two of her children’s sports teams, and co-directed a district-wide race. Salvatore put aside her lifelong dream of attending college to see her kids through their own college experiences.

“My top priority was raising our four children,” she said.

In January 2014, with three daughters holding doctoral degrees and a son well on his way to graduating, Salvatore enrolled at Metropolitan State University. She set her sights on a technical communication and professional writing major and never looked back. She wasted no time getting involved at Metropolitan State.

“For two years, I was the layout/designer for Haute Dish: The Arts and Literature Magazine of Metropolitan State University,” she said.

 Representing Haute Dish, Salvatore was a student panelist for the “Publishing Student Work: How University Literary Magazines Foster Access, Equity, Growth and Self-Confidence in Writing Studies” presentations at the Minnesota Writing and English Conference in April 2016. She also interned at Thompson Reuters as a learning and development designer.

Salvatore is graduating as the College of Liberal Arts’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She will graduate summa cum laude with a technical communication and professional writing degree.

Graduating with her bachelor’s degree means the world to Salvatore.

“Although it took me a long time to get here—37 years on and off—it was a dream I never gave up on,” she said. “I instilled the importance of education in our children… my family knows how I longed to earn my degree, and they’re thrilled for me and my accomplishments.”

After graduation, Salvatore will consider pursuing a master’s degree in technical communication. She also looks forward to having more time for reading and spending time with family and friends.

Judy Worrell, School of Nursing

Judy Worrell
Judy Worrell

After a successful career in business, including a 23-year run as chief financial officer at a product design firm which she co-founded, Judy Worrell, Minneapolis, was ready for a change.

As a high schooler, Worrell was one of two students selected for a nursing pilot program, which emphasized the nursing specialty of respiratory medicine. Worrell found her passion in nursing and graduated an “A” student. From college, Worrell was hired as a supervisor to open the new Respiratory Medicine Department at Purdue University (in Lafayette, Ind.). She later left the nursing field in favor of a career in business.

“I always had the plan to retire early from my career in business to return to my first career and love of nursing,” she said. “After my return to college, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and returned to my love of nursing as registered nurse.”

At a time when many of her peers are either about to or have retired, Worrell decided to step her game up—again—and enrolled in the bachelor of science in nursing program at Metropolitan State University. In the program, Worrell achieved a 4.0 GPA and is working as a registered nurse. She will graduate as the College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She will graduate with a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree.

Worrell plans to begin a nursing educator master’s degree program in June.

“I have no intention of retiring and hope to be teaching and working with the next generation of nursing students very soon,” she said.

Beyond the hospital and the classroom, Worrell and her family serve the community in several ways. Over 15 years, Worrell was a foster mother and took in 60 newborn babies into her family’s home. Since 2001, Worrell has been an advocate for Vietnamese immigrants in accessing medical and legal care and resources. She also served on the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and was asked to testify twice in front of the Minnesota Legislature regarding the need for housing for people with disabilities.

Worrell and her husband Bob have five children and ten grandchildren. She enjoys having a house full of family and spending time at their lake house in the summer.

Jabir Yusuf, College of Management

Jabir Yusuf
Jabir Yusuf

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from the University of Mumbai, Jabir Yusuf, Maple Grove, moved to the United States. He initially worked in IT, and soon found himself in leadership and management positions with several Fortune 500 companies.

Jabir was the director of project management at Optum, and oversaw a team of project managers, as well other projects in the health care domain. Even with these responsibilities and a family, Jabir always dreamed of obtaining a graduate degree and he returned to school by enrolling into the master of business administration program at Metropolitan State University.

In the program, Jabir maintained a 3.93 GPA, while enrolled in the MBA program with double concentrations in management information systems and Project Management. Jabir found his mid-career return to school to be intellectually stimulating, and he appreciates meeting a community of students with diverse backgrounds.

Jabir is graduating as the College of Management’s Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. He will graduate with his MBA from the College of Management.

“The MBA program at Metropolitan State University has provided me with an in-depth, thorough understanding of how successful businesses are managed and will enable me to contribute more effectively as a leader in complex and changing organizations within a highly global economy,” Jabir says.

When not working or furthering his education, Jabir is active in his community, and volunteers at his local community center and on several committees. He also participates in interfaith events that promote better understanding between different faiths. Jabir is also the volunteer coordinator at Optum, organizing group events at Feed My Starving Children, and leads Peer Leadership and Community of Excellence forums. Jabir and his family have traveled to several European countries and they return to India for biennial visits to extended family and friends.

Armed with his fresh MBA, Jabir says his “aim is to attain a senior leadership position in my organization by taking up more responsibilities in the Project Management Organization (PMO).” He looks forward to climbing the ranks within the organization.

Heidi Zimmerman, College of Sciences

Heidi Zimmermann
Heidi Zimmermann

Returning to school after not stepping foot into a classroom for 16 years can be intimidating. After more than a decade as a veterinary nurse and seven years giving private piano lessons, Heidi Zimmermann, New Ulm, was ready for a change and set her sights on a bachelor of arts in biology degree.

“I was always a little anxious before starting every new class as I was pretty sure I would be one of the oldest students in the class,” she says. Her anxiety proved to be not enough to prevent her from her goals.

Zimmermann enrolled at Metropolitan State University in fall 2012. In 2014, Zimmermann learned she was pregnant and decided to take a short break from her studies, as she knew she wouldn’t be able to immerse herself in school the way she had the two years prior. It wasn’t long before she was back in the classroom, however.

“I knew if I did not go back right away, I may never have. The most challenging part became dividing up time between my daughter and husband, work, and doing well in school,” Zimmerman said. “I realized I couldn’t give the kind of time to studies that I had before, so I really tried for quality in small bits, instead of quantity.”

Zimmerman graduated as the Metropolitan State University College of Sciences’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

For Zimmermann and her family, graduation means the “steady marathon” is over, along with the sickness that comes prior to an exam.

“My husband won’t miss pretending to care about exothermic and endothermic reactions or the importance of Paneth cells in our intestines,” she says. Zimmermann plans to continue with education and work toward a career in health care or laboratory science.

As she prepares for a move this summer, Zimmermann enjoys time with her daughter and husband, and bakes along to “The Great British Baking Show,” perhaps too ambitiously. When she’s not actually baking, Zimmermann dreams of owning her own food truck, slinging savory-baked delights throughout her neighborhood.

Partnership of School of Urban Education and Hopkins Public Schools will ease barriers and increase teacher diversity

An ongoing effort by Metropolitan State University and other groups to increase teacher diversity in Minnesota will see fruition with the signing of an agreement that will ease barriers of entry for prospective teachers of color and place them at work in Hopkins Public Schools.

Currently, nearly 30 percent of students in Minnesota schools are students of color and American Indian students, yet 4 percent of their teachers are of color or American Indian. The gap is even wider in many Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota schools with a majority of students of color and American Indian students. Metropolitan State’s School of Urban Education prepares more teachers of color than any other program in the state; currently there are 320 teacher candidates in six licensure programs, and 50 percent are candidates of color.

Representatives from Hopkins School Board and Metropolitan State University’s School of Urban Education (UED) signed the partnership agreement at a School Board Meeting, May 2, at the Eisenhower Community Center (room 233), 1001 MN-7, Hopkins, Minn.

Joe Nathan: All students benefit from diversity among teachers

Hopkins Public Schools is taking an innovative approach made possible during the 2016 legislative session with flexibility to the use of K-12 Achievement and Integration funding to increase K-12 student’s “equitable access to effective and diverse teachers.” The district will hire three UED student teachers as paid “interns” to complete their student teaching experience which is traditionally unpaid.  Increasingly, student teaching is a financial barrier to the profession during the intensive and culminating 12-week, full-time experience during which it is extremely difficult to work any other job to pay for tuition and living expenses. Hopkins will also give priority consideration to UED graduates for licensed teaching positions. Metropolitan State signed an innovative agreement with ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools in January 2017 that provides district paraprofessionals paid leave to student teach within Osseo.

Hopkins Public Schools is an award-winning kindergarten through 12th grade school district serving the city of Hopkins, most of Minnetonka, about half of Golden Valley, and portions of Eden Prairie, Edina, Plymouth, and St. Louis Park. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the district enrolled a richly-diverse K-12 population of about 6,860 students represented by nearly 43 percent students of color and 9 percent English language learners.

The partnership is a result of ongoing legislative advocacy by the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota to increase teacher diversity across the state. Metropolitan State and Hopkins Public Schools are joined with other concerned universities, districts and organizations in this new coalition formed around the common goal to double, by 2020, the current number of teachers of color in the state and ensure that 20 percent of candidates in the teacher preparation pipeline are persons of color or American Indian.

Last August, Metropolitan State University hosted a unique conference organized by the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota designed explicitly for current and aspiring teachers of color. The event was attended by 250 people from more than 100 organizations, school districts, institutions and various racial/ethnic communities throughout the state. The 2017 conference will also be held August 9-11 at Metropolitan State.

The coalition advocates at the state and local levels for the following policies and investments for systemic change needed to address major barriers to the profession and diversify the teacher workforce in the state:

  • Increasing pathways for diverse youth, paraprofessionals and career changers to enter the teaching profession
  • Eliminating discriminatory teacher testing requirements
  • Providing scholarship incentives, student teaching stipends, and loan forgiveness for teaching service
  • Providing induction and retention support
  • Making changes to ensure climate and curriculum are inclusive and culturally relevant in K-12 schools and teacher preparation programs

Meanwhile, backstage at commencement…

Did you ever wonder what the Beacon Hill Brass band was doing offstage while commencement speakers commenced speaking?

Joe Nathan: All students benefit from diversity among teachers

“… There appears to be bipartisan agreement to address part of the shortage: the dramatic underrepresentation of teachers of color. State figures show that more than 30 percent of Minnesota K-12 students come from “communities of color” or are American Indian, but less than 5 percent of the state’s teachers represent any of these groups. …”

Read more

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, is director of the Center for School Change. Reactions are welcome at

Slideshow: Reception for Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

Metropolitan State University kicked off its second year of hosting the Saint Paul film events for the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival on April 21.

The university was able to provide complimentary admission to Metropolitan State students for all films screened in the Film Space at Founders Hall Auditorium for the duration of the festival. The open film at Metropolitan State was “Theater of Life,”
a documentary film about Chef Massimo Bottura, whose restaurant Osteria Francescana was named the world’s best restaurant in 2016, sets his sights on a new culinary adventure: taking food that is to be thrown away and making it into delicious and nutritious gourmet dinners for the most vulnerable people in Modena, Italy.

The annual Minneapolis Saint Paul International Film Festival is in its 36th year. Each year, the Film Society of Minneapolis scours the globe in search of cinematic excellence, otherwise not available in our part of the world. Last year, 45,158 attendees saw films from 72 countries.