Miller Center exterior
In the 1970s, the university’s enrollment stabilized and its population began to expand in diversity and service to older students.
St. Cloud State was then the second largest university in Minnesota and was part of Minnesota’s reputation as a national leader in education. St. Cloud State’s program offerings continued to expand in the 1970s, with the university issuing more degrees for programs outside of education for the first time in 1974.
A final name change to St. Cloud State University in 1975 reflected the university’s growth into a leading educational institution in the state. The university’s growing excellence in programming outside of the field of education was recognized in 1977 when the College of Business earned accreditation from the American Assembly of Undergraduate Programs. More than 40 years later, the Herberger Business School continues to hold accreditation from AACSB International.
With the university’s growing alumni body, the university opened its development office in 1976 and later organized a President’s Club to honor donors and friends of the university.
St. Cloud State closed out the decade by establishing its Center for Continuing Studies to offer learning opportunities for non-traditional students. The program’s enrollment tripled in its first 10 years to serve 3,500 students in evening courses.
The 1970s was also a decade of protest across the nation in the wake of the Vietnam War, and students and faculty members joined in with a march in downtown St. Cloud that blocked traffic on Division Street. The university responded with two days of classes devoted to discussions of the war and other major issues along with a campus declaration for a “Day of Peace” in 1972 and a student march to Lake George where speakers denounced the war.
Expanding diversity at home and abroad
St. Cloud State’s dedication to its expanding diversity of service and student body led to many changes on campus including the establishment of a small business initiative and the university’s first Minority Cultural Center in 1972.
By the end of the decade, the Small Business Administration had chosen St. Cloud State to house one of 16 small business development centers in the country. The LGBT Resource Center opened in 1988 followed by the opening of the Women’s Center in 1989. The American Indian Center was founded on campus in 1993.
The university also sought to better serve younger students with the addition of Senior to Sophomore courses in 1996 that certified high school teachers throughout the state to teach college-level courses in high schools so students could enter college with St. Cloud State credits on their transcripts. This expanded on the Post- Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) population of high school students taking courses on campus following state legislation to provide the option in 1985.
This diversity was seen in the classroom with new requirements beginning in 1988 that new students earn at least 12 credits in courses that expose them to multicultural, gender and minority concerns.
By the 1990s, St. Cloud State’s growing diverse student body recognized the need for additional support with the student group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Atzlan leading a Hunger Strike at the end of spring quarter in May 1995 to call for cultural training for all students and a legal advocate for students, among other demands.
The strike led to the creation of the Multicultural Resource Center, the Student Cultural Center and the Latin American and Chicano/a Studies programs.
In addition to attracting a diverse student body, St. Cloud State worked to diversify its faculty throughout the 1980s by recruiting women and minorities. Administration diversified with President Roy Saigo serving as the university’s first Asian president in 2000 and President Robbyn Wacker serving as the university’s first permanently-appointed female president in 2018. St. Cloud State also increased funding for women’s athletics and worked to provide better access and assistance to students with disabilities.
In addition to welcoming a more diverse body of students and faculty to campus, St. Cloud State expanded outward by beginning its first study abroad programs in the 1970s with the Denmark program in 1973 when students studied abroad in Frederica, Denmark under faculty supervision.
The program later moved to Aalborg, Denmark, and included extensive Western European travels and stays in Danish homes. The program continued until 1992. Another study abroad program started in the 1970s continues to give students new experiences. The Alnwick program began in 1976 and continues to house students in an English castle where students live and study for a semester each fall and spring. The program celebrated 40 years in 2016 and alumni returned for a reunion at Alnwick as part of the Sesquicentennial this past summer.
As the university moved into the 1980s, Professor Donald Sikkink earned a Bush Foundation Grant to internationalize the curriculum leading to the university’s international relations program being established and an increase in both the number of international study abroad programs available and the number of international students attending St. Cloud State. In 2003 Lawrence Hall was reopened to serve as a residential hall for international students and domestic students to live together and exchange culture.
As of fall 2018 more than 1,400 students from 92 nations were enrolled at St. Cloud State.
The university’s study abroad programs expanded outward from Europe to Asia when it became a sister school with Akita University in Japan in 1984. Two years later,
St. Cloud State hosted a Chinese drama troupe from Nankai University in Tianjin.
This was the first time Chinese university students had performed a Chinese play in English in the United States. St. Cloud State reciprocated a year later by bringing a performance of “The Wizard of Oz” to Chinese audiences at the invitation of the Chinese government. This exchange spurred a partnership that continues today.
In 2016 the first cohort of students from Nankai University Binhai College arrived on campus to attend classes at the Herberger Business School through a new 2+2 Bachelor of Science in Finance program. Students in this program complete two years of courses at Nankai University Binhai College and complete their final two years at St. Cloud State to graduate with a degree from both universities.
St. Cloud State’s ties with China also continue to remain strong through the establishment of a Confucius Institute on campus in 2013 that promotes Chinese language and culture. Staying true to St. Cloud State’s original mission as a teacher’s college, the Confucius Institute on campus is focused on the development and sustainability of Chinese immersion programs in Minnesota bringing exchange teachers to teach in Minnesota P-12 classrooms and promoting education abroad in China.
Study abroad expanded to Africa with a partnership with Nelson Mandela University in South Africa in 1998 and is now available on six continents through more than 30 semester and short term programs.
Technology leads to changes
The 1980s brought an ending to St. Cloud State with the closing of the lab school in 1983. St. Cloud State had hosted a lab school since its inception more than 100 years earlier, but, as the focus switched from student teaching and observation to an emphasis on research and experimentation, the lab school was no longer viable.
The school closed with more than 260 students still enrolled. It was the last of its kind in the State University System. After the lab school vacated, the building was re-purposed into the Engineering and Computing Center as technological advancements led to an increasing need for skilled workers in these areas. The center was renovated and became the home of the Electrical Engineering Department, which offered its first classes in fall 1983 with donated equipment from industry partners — within a year the department had achieved national accreditation.
Facilities for broadcasting also expanded in the early 1990s with the expansion of Stewart Hall to add on Ritsche Auditorium and studios for UTVS and KVSC.
Enrollment once again reached a record high in 1990 with more than 17,000 students studying at St. Cloud State. The 1990s were also a time of financial strain for both students and the university as tuition increases outpaced inflation causing students to take out loans to cover their costs and graduate with tuition debts while simultaneous declining enrollments in the late 1990s led to deficits and the need to tighten budgets.
Professional offerings expanded to include St. Cloud State’s first doctoral program in 1994 in collaboration with the University of Minnesota.
Students took courses at St. Cloud State that led to a Doctor of Educational Administration degree awarded by the University of Minnesota. Today St. Cloud State offers two Ed.D. degrees in educational administration and leadership and higher education administration.
In 2009 St. Cloud State expanded its graduate programs to better serve its students from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area with the opening of the Twin Cities Graduate Center and the addition of new programs in medical technology to meet demand for workers with advanced skills in the region’s medical technology industry. The facility moved to Plymouth in 2017 and is now called St. Cloud State at Plymouth.
New facilities and celebrations in sports
St. Cloud State’s athletics offerings expanded after the institution of Women’s Athletics in 1969. Thanks to the influence of legendary coach Herb Brooks, the university’s men’s hockey team entered Division I hockey in 1987-88 and the physical campus expanded to include the 7,000-seat National Hockey Center in 1989. Women’s Hockey began in 1998. Huskies Athletics footprint expanded again in 2004 with Husky Stadium is also the home for Huskies Football and Huskies Soccer.
The former football stadium, Selke Field now serves as the home field for Huskies Softball and is also used by several intramural teams. Huskies Stadium is also the home field for Huskies Softball where they play the first games of the season under a large inflatable dome that covers the field each winter.
Huskies Wrestling brought home the university’s first Division II National Championship in 2015, following it up with additional championships in 2016, 2018 and 2019. The team has been a lead contender in NCAA Division II wrestling for a decade.
Other teams also found success with Men’s Hockey making a Frozen Four appearance in 2013, Softball placing third in the nation after advancing to the NCAA finals in 2004, Women’s Basketball advancing to the Final Four in 2006, Men’s Basketball advancing to the Final Four in 2010, and Volleyball advancing to the Elite Eight in 1995.
Serving new needs
St. Cloud State was an early adopter of the technology that is continuing to transform higher education and the world.
The Learning Resources Center computerized its card catalog in 1982. It was one of the first libraries in the nation to have an online automated library system.
This focus on technology found a new home with the opening of the Miller Center in 2000, which houses both the University Library and IT services.
Centennial Hall was renovated to serve the Herberger Business School, one of several building renovations in the 2000s as the university took the time and effort to preserve its historic structures while ensuring they continue to serve modern needs.
The Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility opened in August 2013 to grow offerings for students in engineering and research. The building houses laboratories and research spaces for engineering, computing, biological and health research, experiential learning and innovation. It offers students and faculty a place to discover solutions to real-world business and STEM research needs.
Enrollment increased again to record levels in 2010 with more than 18,000 students, including almost 2,000 graduate students, studying and learning at St. Cloud State.
Since that record level, St. Cloud State has seen declining enrollment as the university responds to the new realities of decreasing state funding, smaller numbers graduating from Minnesota high schools and new forms of competition from out of state and online institutions.
As the university looked forward to celebrating its sesquicentennial and responding to this new reality, the sudden death of President Earl H. Potter III and the resulting upheaval in university leadership led to the need for change.
Change that continues today under the leadership of President Robbyn Wacker who is re-imagining how the university can best serve the needs of students in the 21st century as the university of choice in Minnesota. Students coming to campus now have a need for lifelong learning and new disciplines as companies throughout the world continue to adapt to globalization and the digital age, and St. Cloud State looks forward to its next 150 years.
This new way of serving students is evident in the re-opening of Eastman Hall this fall. What began as a space for physical education training is now the Center for Health and Wellness Innovation designed to serve the whole student needs of academics, health, wellness and well being.