Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 14
University of Minnesota Libraries win national praise
University of Minnesota Libraries: They're not just for students anymore.
In truth, they never were. But the library system at Minnesota's flagship university has intensified its service to the larger community to such a degree in recent years that others are noticing.
The national Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded the U system its 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. That's a coveted distinction given to five U.S. libraries each year for service to their communities. Only twice before in the award's history has it been bestowed on the library of a college or university.
That affirmation is both well-deserved and timely. The system has been a pioneer among the nation's academic libraries in shifting its focus from amassing a large collection to connecting library users digitally with its own rich resources and those of libraries around the world. "Collections still play a role, but the emphasis has shifted to services" for users, the system's website explains.
Those users are not just university students and faculty. They're medical practitioners, industrial product developers, entrepreneurs, farmers, school and community librarians, and individual library patrons around the state. The Minitex materials-sharing service that the system operates receives and processes a minimum of 1,500 requests per day.
As libraries go digital, their reach increases. But perversely, they also become less visible — and their costs are often less understood. That's what makes this award well-timed. It draws attention to the University of Minnesota Libraries' contributions to the whole state just as a capital campaign is in the works to shore up the libraries' financial foundation. The libraries are seeking $18 million in donations as part of a larger university capital campaign to be launched in September.
That's a modest request for an enterprise that provides what ought to be deemed fundamental infrastructure in an information-based economy. Gov. Mark Dayton called it a "strategic asset" as he proclaimed Monday, July 17, "University of Minnesota Libraries Day" in Minnesota. Minnesotans should know that it's a nation-leading asset that will be at risk if it's taken for granted.
St. Cloud Times, July 15
Trump Jr. just told the world there was collusion
Even viewed from the humble prairies of Central Minnesota, the release of Donald Trump Jr.'s emails last week provides a stunning, unfathomable truth:
Three key leaders of a major presidential campaign colluded with Russia to help them win the highest office in the land.
That a representative of Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr., made false promises to get the meeting does not matter.
What matters is Trump Jr., campaign manager Paul Manafort and President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner all were willing to meet with her because she promised details about Hillary Clinton to help Donald Trump's campaign.
As Trump Jr.'s own email about the possible information stated, he would "love it ..."
His words and the trio's actions undeniably show the Trump campaign was willing to work with another country to win the presidency.
Whether that violates any laws — and if there was any deeper conspiracy — certainly need to be determined through continued investigations.
Already, though, it's fair to say these revelations should shatter any public belief in the endless denials from the president and his team about campaign connections to Russia.
His son just showed the world there was.
And remember, intelligence reports have made it clear Russia was interfering on Trump's behalf in the election. To what extent and whether Trump's team was supportive is still unknown.
That's why these newly unveiled connections must be detailed and then examined in the context of a Constitution drafted by founders who saw impeachment as the penalty for elected officials willing to work with foreign powers at the cost of American interests.
While the ever-bellicose President Trump won't do so, he should stop tweeting excuses, denials and insults and instead fully cooperate with investigators immediately.
His contention Thursday that his son was doing standard "opposition research" is egregious.
Sure, such research is common practice on the domestic front, where there are public records and other credible ways to verify potential sources. Plus, all the players ultimately wear a USA jersey.
Turning to a foreign power — especially one championing polar-opposite values — is abhorrent, perhaps even unprecedented.
Indeed, as The New York Times reported Wednesday, the only similar documented case involving a presidential race came in 1968 when Richard Nixon told H.R. Haldeman (then his top campaign strategist) to interfere in Vietnam peace talks.
To be clear, that comparison for now is only about Trump Jr.'s acknowledgment there was collusion.
St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 16
Steven Rosenstone's laudable work for students and Minnesota
"If leadership were about giving people good news, the job would be easy."
That's a quote from outgoing Minnesota State Chancellor Steven Rosenstone's notes on a book he re-read throughout his tenure, "Leadership on the Line."
There was much on the line when he took office in 2011 — and financial, enrollment and other challenges remain — but Rosenstone is retiring later this month "proud of what we accomplished."
The signature effort of his six years with the sprawling higher-education system — the Charting the Future strategy to boost collaboration, create efficiencies and cut costs — won support on these pages as we look for efforts by public bodies to work smarter to deal with competition for resources and changing demographics.
Early on, he explained, his job — at one of the nation's largest such systems with nearly 400,000 students, 30 colleges, seven universities and 54 campuses — wasn't one for a mid-career academic professional, for somebody on the way up who may have reason to avoid necessary conflict.
"It would be a challenge to get a job after this," he told us as he brings to a close a 44-year career as an educator.
"People do not resist change, per se. They resist loss," authors Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky write, and Rosenstone notes. "You appear dangerous to people when you question their values, beliefs or habits of a lifetime. You place yourself on the line when you tell people what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear."
Rosenstone's tenure at Minnesota State — rebranded last year from MnSCU, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities — reached its nadir in 2014, with student and faculty groups questioning his leadership and some unions withdrawing from the process. Among issues in the rift were concerns about the supposed top-down nature of the implementation, and fears the process would diminish the liberal arts in favor of more focus on career preparation, the Pioneer Press reported. The unions agreed to rejoin the discussion the next year. The trustees stood with Rosenstone, and he remained on the high road; he didn't speak out against disrespectful personal attacks then and won't discuss them now.
In our conversation earlier this month, one of many during his work there, Rosenstone stressed broad consultation and involvement of students, faculty and staff during the process. And he notes that — along with technical skills — employers still want the so-called "soft" ones that help workers think creatively, communicate well and function successfully in a team environment.
Rosenstone also reflected on his vantage point at the junction of education, the workforce and equity. "Solutions are at the intersection of what we do together," he told us, noting that in Minnesota, "we face a perfect storm." Baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, population and labor-force growth are slowing and we're becoming more diverse. It's an environment in which we can't leave anyone behind.
"Every single one" of its students must succeed, says a Minnesota State report on Rosenstone's tenure. "An education that prepares people for high-demand, well-paying jobs will do more to reduce disparities and meet Minnesota's talent needs than anything else our state can do." The report notes that the system serves more students of color and American Indians and more first-generation and low-income college students than all of Minnesota's other education options combined.
Solutions, he told us, happen in collaboration. Among contributions likely to last, Rosenstone has been a leader in aligning education with business needs, with efforts that included 58 formative listening sessions around the state with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Minnesota State also was among partners helping launch Real-Time Talent, a nonprofit public-private partnership to better align education with workforce needs.
Rosenstone, who characterizes his work at Minnesota State as "redesign, rather than reform," joined the system after serving as a University of Minnesota vice president and teaching at Yale University and the University of Michigan. In the wings is Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra, who "will lead with grace, wisdom and dedication," Rosenstone said. System trustees earlier this year didn't find a successor among three finalists and re-opened their search.
A trustees' report thanks Rosenstone, noting his "tenacity in the face of headwinds" and that the system "is in a better position today because the chancellor delivered a vision, ideas and the case for change to strengthen the organization."
A stronger Minnesota State is part of a state better able to meet future workforce needs in the face of dramatic population shifts. We thank Rosenstone for his service. Minnesota should, too.