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Upcoming Interstate 94 east metro ramp closures

Construction crews are making progress on the eastbound Interstate 94 pavement replacement. The old pavement is nearly completely removed, and construction crews are on track to begin pouring concrete for the new driving surface of the eastbound lanes this week.

As the project progresses, so does the need to adjust traffic restrictions to give crews the space to complete this important work.

Expect these changes in the coming weeks within the work zone:

  • The ramp from eastbound I-94 to northbound McKnight Road will close early Thursday morning, July 20. Anticipate re-opening both eastbound I-94 to McKnight Road ramps in August.
  • The ramp from Etna Street to southbound Highway 61 will close early Monday morning, July 24, through the end of August

Ramps are being closed to they may be repaved. Closure durations and time frames are all approximate and weather dependent.

What’s next

Anticipate final construction stage in early August. There will be additional lane and ramp closures (and openings) before the project is completed this fall.

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July 25: U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking town hall

Metropolitan State University will host the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking during a three-day visit to Minnesota for a regional meeting to discuss and deliberate ways to meaningfully engage survivors of human trafficking, as well as educate, empower and create awareness for those survivors.

Five members of the visiting council will meet with survivors in Minnesota, as well as with representatives from the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force, the Minnesota Department of Health, the International Institute of Minnesota, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and state sheriffs and county attorneys. Over the course of the visit, from July 23-25, councilmembers will identify and discuss key objectives for the council’s 2017 report.

The regional meeting will culminate with a public town hall, 1 to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 25, hosted at Metropolitan State University, 700 7th Street East, Saint Paul. Expected speakers include State Senator Foung Hawj of District 67, Saint Paul City Council member Jane Prince of Ward 7, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Anne Saunders of the Minneapolis Field Office, Lauren Ryan, JD, director of Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door at the Minnesota Department of Health, and university President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur. The event is open to news media and will also be livestreamed to the council’s Facebook page.

The council was formed in 2015 under the U.S. Department of State to “provide a formal platform for trafficking survivors to advise and make recommendations on federal anti-trafficking policies to the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF).”

The council is made up of 11 selected volunteers who are survivors of human trafficking. Its purpose is to provide recommendations to the U.S. government to strengthen federal policy and programming efforts that reflect the best practices in the field. The council meets in person three times annually. An initial report from the council was delivered last year.


  • In January 2009, the FBI identified the Twin Cities as one of 13 U.S. cities with a high incidence rate of child prostitution. (source)
  • By very conservative measures, a November 2010 study found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services. This number does not include hotel, street or gang activity. (source)
  • A November 2010 study found that on any given weekend night in Minnesota, 45 girls under age 18 are sold for sex through the internet classified websites and escort services. (source)
  • In 2010, investigators from three states determined that Minneapolis was the home base of a large domestic prostitution (sex trafficking) ring comprised of three generations of one Minnesota family that was prostituting (trafficking) mostly young girls across the United States. (source)
  • About 50 percent of adult women interviewed as part of a 2010 study focused on North Minneapolis stated that they were first traded for sex when they were under the age of 18, with the average age at 13 years. (source)
  • In just one 72-hour sting in summer 2013, an FBI-led operation rescued 105 children and netted 152 pimps in 76 cities nationwide, including four alleged pimps in the Twin Cities.

* “Get the Facts,” Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

Selected nationally, the appointees are from diverse backgrounds and bring personal experiences of human trafficking to the council. They were also selected for their ongoing work and leadership in their local communities against human trafficking.

The council includes Bukola Oriola, a spring 2017 graduate of Metropolitan State University. In 2016, she was appointed to a two-year term on the council. In that year, she attended an inaugural meeting in Washington, D.C., with the council and then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. She also serves as the council’s secretary.

Other councilmembers to attend are:

  • Harold D’Souza; a survivor, spokesperson, and advocate. D’Souza is a senior supply chain associate for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a position he has held since 2008. He is also a co-founder of Eyes Open International, a founding member of the National Survivor Network, and is active with End Slavery Cincinnati.
  • Ronny Marty; an independent consultant and speaker to combat human trafficking.
  • Flor Molina; founding member of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) Survivor Leadership Program and a member of the National Survivor Network. She has advocated for policies to combat human trafficking since 2002.
  • Evelyn Chumbow; a project assistant at Baker & McKenzie LLP. Since 2014, Chumbow has been an advocate with the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST). She was recently awarded the Presbyterian Peaceseeker Award for her efforts to combat human trafficking.

Oriola, a Nigerian-born journalist who came to Minnesota in 2005 to meet her husband for the first time, was instead held hostage and forced into labor in his Ramsey home, and suffered mental and physical abuse over the next two years.

Oriola has spoken about her experience since 2009. In September 2016, she traveled to her native Nigeria to speak out about the problem of human trafficking. Over 11 days, she met with university students and the international media there to tell her story and experience as a victim of human trafficking and to bring a different understanding and dialogue about the forms that human trafficking can manifest.

July 15: Rondo Days

Metropolitan State University joins its community partners to celebrate the 34th Annual Rondo Days on Saturday, July 15. Rondo Days commemorates the rebirth of the Rondo neighborhood following the construction of the Interstate 94 corridor.

On behalf of the Enrollment Management Team, Multicultural Affairs, Institution for Community Engagement and Scholarship Office and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Metropolitan State encourages the university community to participate.

Stop by the Metropolitan State University booth, which will be  located in the tent area D #1, near the stage.

Free transportation to the event is  available through Metro Transit.

Aug. 16: Convocation 2017

Important start-of-semester events, convocation, picnic and all-university sessions will be on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

  • 10 to 11:25 a.m. — Convocation: Auditorium, Founders Hall
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Picnic in the Great Hall, New Main (overflow on the lawn, terrace and Founders Hall, in case of rain).
  • 1:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. — “The Future of Minnesota and Its Higher Education Sector: What do emerging trends suggest for Metropolitan State?”
  • Presentations and table discussions (schedule and location to be determined)

Contact Shelly Heller, assistant to the president, at 651-793-1901 for information.

Interstate 94 East traffic changes begin June 23

Traffic change details

Project milestone: Beginning Friday, June 23, westbound traffic on Interstate 94 will be switched to the newly-paved westbound lanes. This is the first in a series of traffic changes that will occur between June 23 and June 30. The changes are needed to set up the traffic pattern that will allow construction crews to begin resurfacing all eastbound I-94 travel lanes between Saint Paul and Maplewood in early July.

Drivers will encounter the following lane and ramp closures over the next week in the project area:

Beginning June 22:

Lane closure: Starting 9 a.m., June 22, the right lane on northbound Highway 120/Century Avenue will be closed from just south of I-94 to 3M/Innovation Road for approximately three weeks. The closure is needed to provide work space for crews to construct the trail on the east side of the road.

Beginning June 23:

Lane closure: The right lane (local access lane) and all ramps on westbound I-94 between Highway 120/Century Avenue and Mounds Boulevard will be closed through 5 a.m., June 24. During this time, all westbound I-94 traffic will be routed to the far left lane. Once these closures are lifted, most ramps will reopen and motorists will have three travel lanes on westbound I-94.

Ramp closures: The following westbound I-94 entrance and exit ramps will be closed through August 2017, unless otherwise noted. These closures are necessary to maintain a safe traffic flow on I-94 during construction.

Hudson Road to westbound I-94 (the far east entrance ramp in front of 3M) White Bear Avenue to westbound I-94. This closure will be in place through fall 2017.

Beginning June 24:

Crews will be relocating the moveable barrier from eastbound I-94 to westbound I-94 as part of preparing for the next construction stage. From Saturday morning, June 24, through Thursday evening, June 29, there will be three eastbound travel lanes and three westbound travel lanes on I-94.

Beginning June 29:

Lane closure: The right lane (local access lane) and all ramps on eastbound I-94 between Mounds Boulevard and Highway 120/Century Avenue will be closed beginning at 9 p.m., June 29 through 5 a.m., June 30. During this time, eastbound I-94 between St. Paul and Maplewood will be reduced to a single lane of traffic. After these closures are lifted, most ramps will reopen and eastbound I-94 will be set up in the traffic pattern that will be in place through August 2017.

Ramp closures: The following eastbound I-94 entrance/exit ramps are currently closed and will remain closed through fall 2017:

  • McKnight Rd. to eastbound I-94
  • NB/SB Hwy 61 to eastbound I-94

Be prepared to choose a lane

Starting on Friday morning, June 30, motorists on eastbound I-94 should be prepared to choose a lane.

Drivers exiting within the 5-mile project area between Mounds Boulevard and Highway 120/Century Avenue should stay in the right lane and follow the “local access, stay right” signs.

Drivers traveling beyond Highway 120/Century Avenue should remain in the left lanes and follow the “through traffic, stay left” signs.

Watch this brief video before driving in the area.

Closure durations and time frames are all approximate and weather dependent.

Stay connected

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Metropolitan State to welcome first students in Nagasaki University exchange

Metropolitan State University will welcome two students from Japan who will attend the Saint Paul university as a cultural exchange, in a celebration that also commemorates the Nagasaki-Saint Paul Sister City Committee’s fifth anniversary of the Gift of Cherry Trees.

President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur will greet students Ayano Tsuchihashi and Yoshiki Ohgi coming from Nagasaki University to attend Metropolitan State in an inaugural exchange between the universities. A representative from the Japanese Consulate in Chicago will attend, as well as city officials. Special guests include Takayuki Miyanishi, president of the Nagasaki-Saint Paul Sister City Committee.

In February 2017, the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Metropolitan State and Nagasaki University opened opportunities for a cultural exchange of students. The memorandum allows students from Metropolitan State to study in Japan for long and short term sessions. As part of the exchange, Metropolitan State will host an equal number of Nagasaki University students. Metropolitan State students will leave in August 2017 to attend Nagasaki University.

In 2012, the government of Japan donated 20 cherry trees to the City of Saint Paul as part of its Centennial Celebration of the Gift of Trees to Washington, DC. Saint Paul was one of 36 cities in the U.S. chosen to receive them in large part due to its having the oldest Sister City relationship with any city in Japan. The cherry trees line the steps up to the Mannheimer Memorial and form a semi-circle at the top of the hill. Additional trees are planted each year and the grove now numbers 30-plus trees.

The celebration is free and open to the public, and will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 3, at Como Park by the Mannheimer Memorial. It is sponsored by the Saint Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee, with assistance from the Japan America Society of Minnesota, AnimeTwinCities, and many volunteers. The event will end by noon. Free parking is available. Entertainment will include performances of Harisen Daiko drumming, shakuhachi flute by Leo Hansen and Sansei Yonsei Kai dancers.

Saint Paul and Nagasaki became Sister Cities in December 1955. It is the oldest Sister City relationship between a U.S. and an Asian city. In 2015, the relationship celebrated 60 years with a gala year of exchanges and exhibitions. In 2015, Devinder Malhotra, then-interim president of Metropolitan State University, accompanied Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s official delegation to Nagasaki, which led to the exchange agreement between Metropolitan State and Nagasaki University. Tokens of esteem to Japan include two sculptures in the Nagasaki Peace Park, these cherry trees and the Japanese Garden at Como Park are living tributes from Japan to Saint Paul.

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.