Faculty and staff gather to start off the new school year

With the start of the new academic year, faculty and staff members were present on campus with the kick off of the 2014 Convocation.
Held in Ritsche Auditorium on Wednesday morning, the packed seats were filled with members of the SCSU community coming together to start off the new academic year.
“We are a family. Some may say a dysfunctional family. There may be times we fight with each other. But through thick and thin we are a campus family,” SCSU staff member Laurie Luethmers said.
The 2014 Convocation started with opening remarks from the newly appointed Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Richard Green. Introducing the panelists, the first speaker, SCSU Student Government President Lindsey Gunnerson spoke about her experiences on the campus of SCSU.
Gunnerson spoke about how SCSU had shaped the person she has become, the leader she has become and how the university had left a major impact on her life.
“I’m excited to be here and to have the opportunity to thank all of you here,” Gunnerson said.
Following Gunnerson, German professor Roland Specht-Jarvis spoke about how he has witnessed a shift in the educational system. A shift he described as being positive.
Working with the university since 1983, Specht-Jarvis said the motto of the university would be how the administration could bring in more students. Now the focus has shifted from a faculty and staff centric ideology to one directed toward students.
“What has changed are the needs and expectations of the students,” Specht-Jarvis said.
Throughout his stay at the university, Specht-Jarivs described just how the change has been embraced by the students and also the faculty and staff.
“The students have individual concerns. They want individual attention. They want the faculty to know their name. We need to have the opportunities to work with students,” he said.
Some of the techniques Specht-Jarvis stressed for faculty were to take the time to meet students at their level. Giving students the opportunity to embark on shared teaching and using and incorporating the technology the students are using in the classroom will be key to foster a solid learning program in the classroom.
After two additional speakers, interim provost Green took to the podium to address some of his concerns and expectations for the new academic year.
While currently serving at his post since May, Green said he is ready to help in anyway he can.
“I’m more convinced than ever that I have no time to be new,” he said.
Meeting with staff, faculty and students during the last few months, Green said he has had three main questions he has asked to better orient himself with the specific needs of the campus community.
“My three questions are: What is outstanding about St. Cloud State? What needs improvement at St. Cloud State? And what can I do as provost to help?”
Stressing the importance, dedication and hard work of the faculty and staff, Green summed up his goal for the academic year in four words, “Expect excellence, experience results.”
Turning over the podium to President Potter, the university’s highest administrator talked about some of the issues facing the campus community and the progress that has been made in addressing those concerns.
“This is a time when we can come together,” Potter said. “Whether you have been with us for 2 months, 2 years or 20 years, this time of year is a beginning for us.”
Opening his speech with how the university has initiated steps toward the development of a comprehensive facilities plan, Potter said the university along with the city of St. Cloud and the surround neighborhoods have been working to implement a plan to save space.
Potter also thanked members of the Minnesota legislature present at the Convocation, Representatives Zachary Dorholt and Tama Theis and Senator John Pederson for their work in securing funding for the proposed revitalization project on Eastman Hall.
“There are a lot of years left in that old building. In the new facility there we would like to make it a comprehensive student wellness site,” Potter said. This would include bringing together Student Health Services, counseling services and other resources that focus primarily on student health and wellness.
Potter’s last remarks were about the state of the university and its recent notoriety across the state and the nation as well.
“We have been affirmed by two national magazines as being a great institution. We are in the top 9 percent of the nation’s most affordable colleges. We are in the elite 23 percent of schools with top student academic success rate,” Potter said.
While these rankings are nice ways to attract students, Potter said the real testimony of these rankings is the quality of the graduates that come out of SCSU.
“Our rankings are an indicator of how we are changing,” Potter said.
And while changes will be in store for the faculty and staff at SCSU, one thing that the speakers at the 2014 Convocation all had in common was the commitment to excellence in student learning.
“Our motto is Think. Do. Make a Difference. When graduation rolls around we want students to be able to say they thought, they did, and they have made a difference,” Green said.

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