Step aside for innovative problem-solving

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Earl H. Potter III

We talk a lot about “making a difference” at St. Cloud State. In the way our faculty, staff and students perceive the world and their place in it. In the confidence and ability our students develop to make responsible, positive choices for their lives. In the cultural and economic wealth and health of our community.

We encourage tackling issues and challenges with creativity and enthusiasm. We foster leadership without imposing barriers or restrictions on innovation. We enable progress without impeding a free flow of ideas. And in recent months we’ve witnessed some striking examples of the kind of activist problem solving that we hope will thrive in a climate that empowers people to make a difference.

When the students in the St. Cloud Times story reprinted on the next two pages felt the sting of racist words scrawled on their class poster, they offered an innovative way to send their “no more” message to any purveyors of hate on our campus. The members of Professor Yolanda Lehman’s “Race in America” class represented a groundswell of productive defiance.

These students stand on the shoulders of many on our campus who broke barriers fighting for social justice and freedom from discrimination and disrespectful treatment. For decades St. Cloud State activists have rallied efforts to create a more welcoming, safe and comfortable environment for all our students, faculty and staff.

But this diverse group of students took outrage and defiance to a new level with a remarkably expedient response. Faculty, staff and administrators stood aside in respect, allowing these students to invest their passion. They made headlines. They made a difference.

The campus community has found other remarkable ways to overcome familiar challenges in the past year:

  • By taking a proactive approach to educating our students about responsible choices about alcohol use and other behaviors that could affect their health and well being, the UChoose program has become a positive, high-profile response to a common campus problem. More importantly, it has resulted in positive changes among our students and in the way our students are perceived.
  • University alumni and friends, led by former St. Cloud State Student Government president and local attorney Brian Schoenborn ’92, have been the driving force behind the exciting campus/community partnership that has unleashed unprecedented enthusiasm for supporting the National Hockey and Event Center expansion with ambitious fundraising goals.
  • In these challenging economic times, this year’s annual campus fundraising campaign had a 14 percent increase in participation from faculty, staff and emeriti over last year’s. The 2009 Faculty/Staff Campaign raised a grand total of $250,000, which translates into a 20 percent increase in dollars raised.

These examples of how we’re living up to the greater expectations we’ve placed on ourselves as a campus community, as well as the many stories on the pages of this issue of Outlook, indicate increasing pride in St. Cloud State both internally and externally.

They reflect our vision of a culture whose success is greatly measured by how and how much we make a difference, individually and collectively.

Earl H. Potter III, President

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