Standing before hundreds of employees in Ritsche Auditorium, Summer Vogl credited support systems for her matriculation to, and success at, St. Cloud State.
“Each one of you is a support system for all the students who come to our university,” the Student Government president told an Aug. 19 Convocation audience. “When a student succeeds, we all succeed.”
The junior from Walnut Grove’s remarks paved the way for a discussion of Our Husky Compact, a shared commitment to a St. Cloud State education that sets students apart and prepares them to be global citizens in the 21st century.
Our Husky Compact: Dimensions
- Think Creatively and Critically
- Seek and Apply Knowledge
- Communicate Effectively
- Integrate Existing and Evolving Technologies
- Engage as a Member of a Diverse and Multicultural World
- Act with Personal Integrity and Civic Responsibility
President Earl H. Potter III outlined six dimensions of Our Husky Compact (PDF), noting that they speak to student’s need for relevance, the need to understand why something is important. Our Husky Compact, he said, gives students and employees the ability to talk about the distinctive character of a St. Cloud State education.
“In order to keep that [Husky Compact] promise, what kind of place do we have to be? What capacity do we have to create? What does our curriculuum look like?” Potter said. “It drives a conversation that bring us to the very core of why we are here.”
Kristian Twombly, an associate professor of music, was part of a team of employees that, among other things, reviewed responses from three student focus groups. Twombly noted that students viewed their college degree as more than “a degree means a job.”
“They spoke passionately about having a sense of belonging … to choose their own pathway, to be creative, to be ethical,” said Twombly. “These voices — student voices here at St. Cloud State — speak powerfully to the value of a liberal education.”
Among the strands of implementation are a year-long focus on the Communicate Effectively dimension of Our Husky Compact. The 2016-17 academic year will bring an emphasis on the Think Creatively and Critically dimension. Our Husky Compact will be critical to the re-accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission, which begins November 2016.
Potter pushed back on a national narrative that suggests the liberal arts education is no longer relevant.
“It’s too easy to listen to the media and think the message is that we are in the business of technical training. We are not,” Potter said. “We are in the business of preparing people for success in life, work and citizenship in the 21st century. And, that means the ability to do jobs that don’t exist today, answer questions that haven’t yet been asked.”
Convocation (PDF) workshops and meetings continue through Aug. 21. Fall semester day and evening classes begin Aug. 24. Commencement is Dec. 18.
Standing up for newcomers
In an aside to his formal remarks, Potter addressed recent anti-immigrant/anti-newcomers speech and vandalism in the St. Cloud area.
“We believe in free speech. People have to be able to say what they believe, even if we find it objectionable,” said Potter. “But, on the other side, we also have the right to say we find it objectionable. And, we have the right to call upon our community to stand up and say what we feel.”
Recent incidents include racist comments on social media, directed at Hmong Americans and Somali Americans, as well as vandalism to cars owned by Somali Americans.
Potter hailed campus and community leaders for their support of immigrants and newcomers, notably citing the work of Department of Communication Studies faculty members Roseanna Ross and Jeff Ringer. Ringer and Ross were honored this spring for their work at the St. Cloud Conflict Resolution Center and for their community conflict resolution services.
Said Potter: “Immigrants are good for the United States.”