Category Archives: Faculty & Staff

Mathematics professor Cindy Kaus receives prestigious award

Dr. Cindy Kaus, professor of mathematics at Metropolitan State University, has been named recipient of the Mathematical Association of America’s (MMA) North Central Section award for Distinguished University Teaching of Mathematics.  John Zobitz, mathematician at Augsburg, nominated Cindy for this award. The Distinguished University Teaching of Mathematics award is based on the following criteria:

  • Be widely recognized as extraordinarily successful in their teaching.
  • Have teaching effectiveness that can be documented.
  • Have had influence in their teaching beyond their own institution.
  • Foster curiosity and generate excitement about mathematics in their students

Cindy received her award at the Spring 2017 Meeting  on April 21-22 at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.  In addition, the North Central Section will forward Dr. Kaus’ name as a nominee for the national award.

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.

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.

President’s Circle of Engagement recognizes faculty for engaged teaching strategies

Each year, through the President’s Circle of Engagement, Metropolitan State University’s president recognizes faculty members for the use of community-engaged teaching and learning strategies, calling attention to the importance of this approach to student learning and its relation to the university mission of “commitment to community partnerships through curriculum, teaching, and scholarship.”

Faculty members in the President’s Circle of Engagement are invited to attend a reception hosted by the university president where they are acknowledged for their efforts, and learn about select community-engaged projects being led by their faculty colleagues.

Do you wish to be included in the 2017 President’s Circle of Engagement? RSVP at this link.


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Dr. Meghan Coleman appointed to the Minnesota Board on Aging

meghan coleman

Dr. Meghan Coleman of Metropolitan State’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Human Services, Aging Studies/Gerontology, has been reappointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to the Minnesota Board on Aging.

The mission of the Minnesota Board on Aging is “To ensure that older Minnesotans and their families are effectively served by state and local policies and programs in order to age well and live well.”

This is a four-year appointment. Coleman currently serves as co-chair of the MBA’s policy committee.

Meanwhile, backstage at commencement…

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

Slideshow: 2017 Employee Awards

At the Employee Awards event on April 14, awards were given to employees of the university for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service. See below for photos and details about each recipient.

Awards are also given for several categories of outstanding service. Recipients were nominated by their colleagues based on their accomplishments and efforts in their departments.

Stanley Hatcher, College of Individualized Studies – Academic Advisor

Stanley is a highly respected advising professional who nurtures relationships by interacting with a broad spectrum of university colleagues and students; and, not to mention his humorous/playful demeanor which makes him an absolute joy to work with. His perseverance and pain-staking efforts with students continues to impress his colleagues across Metropolitan State University. His in-depth knowledge of the University’s curriculum, policies, and resources is very valuable to those he serves and enriches the quality of the student’s advising/learning experience.

Stanley is excellent in demonstrating intellectual competence and personal understanding. He is the go-to person for CIS advisees who come from families who are the first to attend college; they seek him out because of his intellect, strong interpersonal skills, and his nurturing as he guides them through the maze of academia. No student is ever turned away, he always responds with a “can do” attitude toward students, he is always ready and willing to help answer or solve a problem even at 5:00 p.m. when the student shows up at his door. He is very hardworking, sincere and dedicated towards his responsibilities to students while maintaining a cool, calm and collective demeanor.

Valerie Geaither, Faculty Anti-Racism Legacy Award

Valerie has been unwavering in her commitment to challenge institutional racism at Metropolitan State and has demonstrated leadership by currently serving as co-chair of the Anti-Racism Leadership Team, being a member of the Anti-Racism Leadership Team for several years, the 2011 Campus Climate Report and Presentation Team, and Racial Issues Graduation Requirement Task Force that proposed the new requirement and developed the criteria that gained Faculty Council approval.

Valerie’s community involvement includes:

  • Member and national representative, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
  • Member of Afro-Eco Environmental group
  • Co-chair, Minneapolis National Council of Negro women chapter


Photos by Kevin O’Connor

Nominations for Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Advising awards

Is there an instructor or academic advisor who has had a positive impact on your academic journey at Metropolitan State University?  Someone who made an extraordinary difference to you?  You can thank that advisor or instructor for making a difference by nominating him or her for these awards:

• Excellence in Teaching
• Carol C. Ryan Excellence in Advising

Based on your student nominations, the outstanding teachers and advisors are chosen and recognized each year for their contributions. They receive their awards at the annual Fall Faculty Conference.

mail to:
Center for Faculty Development
Metropolitan State University
700 East Seventh Street
St. Paul, MN 55106

Questions?  Email

Birtukan Abebe honored with nomination for Minnesota State Board of Trustees Professional Excellence in Service Award

Birkutan Abebe

Birtukan Abebe was recently recognized for her years of dedication and service as an academic advisor in the Information and Computer Sciences department by being chosen as Metropolitan State’s representative nominee for the Minnesota State Board of Trustees Professional Excellence in Service Award.  Although she was not chosen at the awards ceremony, Abebe feels it was an honor to be recognized.

“It was an honor to be nominated among six outstanding Metropolitan State University staff for the work we do.  Being recognized at the state level was truly amazing.  It made me feel that my contribution has made an impact to our students’ growth and to help them achieve their goals.  It is always a pleasure working with students and see them accomplish so many things,” Abebe said.

Abebe has been with Metropolitan State for 17 years, and has established herself as a prolific, and influential academic advisor with both students and faculty.  Her life experiences have also helped her to be the dynamic employee she has come to be known for at Metropolitan State.

Supporting Post-Traditional Students in the Digital Age

Metropolitan State University’s Center for Accessibility Resources has created a presentation, “Supporting Post-Traditional Students in the Digital Age,” that will be presented at the National AHEAD conference in Orlando, Florida, the week of July 17, 2017.

The presentation, says Kristin Jorenby, director of Accessibility Resources at Metropolitan State, explores opportunities and strategies to support students with disabilities using a multi-focal lens that incorporates viewpoints related to post-traditional age, highly diverse, urban students at a four-year university. Conference attendees will examine ways to connect with internal and external resources, create balance between compliance and advocacy, and find similarities with traditional age students.

Through their shared experiences, conference participants will highlight strategies for outreach to both internal and external resources that can support students with a wide array of disability types and experiences. Maximizing access to resources is not only critical for student success and retention but it also helps to build a common awareness and ownership of shared responsibility as an institution and society to create environments that are accessible to all.

Jorenby says they will explore how building relationships with internal offices such as TRIO, Veterans Services, Student Counseling Services, and Academic Excellence can help students be successful and build retention rates. Other topics for discussion are on building relationships with external partners such as Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Veterans Administration, partner two-year institutions, and other community resources contributes to student success and retention.

“We will also discuss similarities between traditional and post-traditional students and how we as professionals can create synergies in our service delivery to all types of students we encounter,” Jorenby says. “Metropolitan State University is an urban university and our students often have challenges with resources such as transportation, food and housing security, and access to technology. These challenges combined with disabilities are often experienced by our students no matter their age. We will share how we have worked to be a bridge for student access through provision of loaned technology, our food bank and other student services.

“Lastly, we will review the importance of maintaining the delicate balance between compliance with existing laws and developing the self-advocacy skills of our students. Working in one arena or the other fails to provide the best service to our institutions and our students. We will be discussing steps we have taken to help create this balance within our institution and ask for input from attendees regarding strategies they have found helpful as well.”

For more information on this conference, please see the link below or you may contact Kristin Jorenby at 651-793-1540 or

AHEAD 2017 Registration Info