Why public higher education?

Why public higher education?

The buzz in higher education funding is about technical careers (note*). These are entry level positions that often are above minimum wage and may or may not include benefits. These positions are a great way to get to work quickly and many individuals launch their life careers with a technical education. Some of the people who have a technical education choose to step to leadership roles and may need another certification, degree, or credential, which is why connecting technical careers to a solid pathway is essential. Further, it is imperative that we consider the importance of partnering with public institutions for these pathways as they are obligated to a president, chancellor, board of trustees, state legislature, and the public. This is not about an entitlement but how our nation has entrusted the education of citizens to become productive (tax paying) members of our society. “The connections among industry, education, and government are at the core of higher education today—and for the future—and the partnership will have to be about more than just money” (Lambert, 2014). The obligation to educate and partner is considered the primary responsibility of leaders in public higher education institutions.

I believe we need to also consider the cost, benefit and portability of options in higher education institutions. In public higher education, I do not feel obligated to sell you a narrow set of options (McMillian Cottom, 2017); I want to hear about your interests, skills and educate you about choices that fit you and the current/emerging career needs in the region. This takes time and serious respect for individuality. Career availability in our region includes multiple sectors and roles, so I don’t need to determine a career for someone – they should love what they do in their career.

The risks of embarking on a higher education path include the financial, personal time, and the ability to sacrifice those costs to achieve a future benefit. If you are someone who is living paycheck to paycheck, then these risks may not seem reasonable. If you are able to begin your higher education path and then have a life hiccup that requires you to stop out, what is the risk financially and is there an opportunity to step back in? The complexity increases with family needs (children, parents, grandparents) and stability of transportation, daycare, housing, and food security. These are real. I would like everyone to consider the risk and portability options that tend to happen with public higher education institutions:

  1. Less risk
    1. Cost is reasonable
    2. If you take out loans, chances are you will be able to pay them back and not default
  2. More portable
    1. Credits come from regionally accredited institution; these credits are more likely to transfer
    2. The institution is likely to be around if you stop out and come back, so you can step in and not lose credits or years of work.

I think it is fair to reconsider how we advise and see the benefits of a public education.

Lambert, M. T. (2014). How is the historic role of public higher education changing? https://www.agb.org/trusteeship/2014/11/how-historic-role-public-higher-education-changing

McMillian Cottom, T. (2017). Lower Ed. interview heard on Fresh Air. http://www.npr.org/2017/03/27/521371034/how-for-profit-colleges-sell-risky-education-to-the-most-vulnerable

Note * my career path began in high school in a career training course and continued in an area vocational technical institute. I transitioned from career education to bachelors, masters and PhD. A pathway success.

April Showers!

April Showers!

Happy April – the month in higher education that exemplifies “march madness”, even though it is April. We are in the home stretch, getting closer to commencement. I am so fortunate that my colleagues have the march toward commencement expertly managed so I am thinking about fall 2017, and beyond. Thinking 6-24 months ahead is the gift of a strategic/futuristic (Strengths ™). There are a lot of potential opportunities headed WSU’s way in Rochester! The population is growing, including our alumni base, and the workforce needs are on the edge of urgent. Several industries would argue the on the “edge” imagery and say we are already in need of skilled individuals in a wide range of roles in Rochester. We have community need, we have opportunities for higher education, and we have potential partnership expansion.

Community & Individual Needs

Frontline professionals are needed in a broad range of industries in southern Minnesota and Rochester. Further, the small businesses that support the larger businesses are looking for adaptable professionals that have high level application skills. Professional roles that require additional education and focused specialization are being sought by local employers. Everyone wants individuals that engage in their work professionally. A broad range of need and honestly, it is overwhelming to consider the shortage and how to fill the multi-skill level employee needs in our local region.

I believe valuing every individual and their role is essential to attracting and maintaining employees. Valuing individual contributions, valuing their strengths, valuing their future and valuing ways to support growth. Supporting people and their growth may mean they will choose to move up or out of your business – it will also translate into better service while they are with your business.

WSU Rochester Opportunities & Planning

WSU Rochester has been serving Rochester and delivering high quality professionals for over 100 years. We do immersion programming, some examples: teacher education happens in the schools, nursing and social work education happens in the community and healthcare facilities. As WSU engages with community members to address local needs to empower individuals to achieve their career goals, you can assume that immersion education will be central. The best way to stay connected with our community partners is to be industry relevant while helping individuals realize their career dreams.

Below is a list of the current and future plans for WSU Rochester. There are so many opportunities in Rochester and April is the perfect time to consider the nurturing growth for another season, and nurturing the growth of individuals to support our growing community.


To date, WSU provides pathways to baccalaureate degrees through:

  • Path to Purple
    • Teacher Education
    • Nursing
    • Public Health (using BroadField Science)
    • Computer Science
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Human Resource Management
  • Specific Articulations
    • Art (will be replaced by transfer pathway)
    • Explore program pathways for Sports Management/Athletic Training/Exercise Science and Coaching and Physical Education
  • Transfer Pathways. Completion programs offered at RCTC and in Winona
    • Computer Science
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Accounting
    • Elementary Education
    • Art
  • Transfer Pathways. Completion programs currently offered only in Winona
    • Chemistry
    • Communication
    • Criminal Justice/Police
    • Economics
    • Kinesiology/Exercise Science, Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Psychology

Planned programs for the next two years

  • Accounting minor– hybrid projecting 15-25 students per semester
  • Entrepreneurship minor-primarily online projecting 25-30 per semester.
  • Child Advocacy Studies primarily online minorprojecting 30-35 students per semester
  • Early childhood licensure– hybrid projecting 15-22 students per semester
  • Leadership institutes (continuing ed or non-credit)
  • Exploring Data science completion

Graduate Programs offered through WSU Rochester

  • DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Masters in Nursing and certificates
  • Education Masters programs and certificates
  • Multicultural Education certificate
  • Drug and Alcohol Counseling certificate

Potential Future Graduate Programs

  • Master of Social Work projecting 30-40 students per semester
  • Masters in Accounting projecting 30-40 students per semester
  • Doctorate with specialties/emphases projecting 25-30 students per semester
  • 2017 fall Psych/MH Nurse Practitioner certificate projecting 18-22 students per semester