|The strategic season
At this time of year we're establishing goals and strategies for the next year. We're examining how we came out on the past year's Key Performance Indicators or KPIs and addressing what we need to do for this year's slate. President's Leadership Group is starting up (to get in contact with your rep go to css.edu/plg). The various committees of the Board of Trustees are meeting, and the full Board retreat in late October will bring a lot of clarity on the direction we head as we go into the budgeting process for FY14.
The financiers are liking us
The College has had its bond rating of Baa2 renewed by Moody's. That sets the context for what the College is able to borrow. Of the three grades – investment, intermediate, and junk – we're investment grade. Not the very tippy-top of that category, but still, we're rated as a good risk for lenders.
The 10-day count says…
All in all, considering the climate of higher education, our enrollments are looking pretty good. We're at or near goals in both traditional and non-traditional (Graduate, Extended and Online, or GEO) populations. The main campus census total for full-time traditional students is 2,037 to a goal of 2,056. We have 51 more part-time students attending, so our total main campus population is 2,088. Our GEO population continues to see strong growth. We have 2,056 enrolled, which is 11 percent growth over last year. Our goal was 2,102, but we have term II enrollments to push us up over goal. One caveat is how many credits these enrolled students are taking. This may have implications for the current FY13 budget; we'll address those in the next newsletter.
Our very own MOOC
As you know, there's now a lot of wonderful instructional content available free or at very low cost digitally via Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. The College's response is – be patient with the alphabet soup! – Project ABCD. Each letter of the name addresses one of the challenges the new landscape presents. A = alternative pedagogies; B = big, open, online, credit-optional courses; C = credit validation pathways; and D = a St. Scholastica degree at a $25,000 price point. Concerning A and B, without any real advertising there are already 98 students from around the world taking the College's first free MOOC, Gerry Cizadlo's Intro to Anatomy and Physiology. And one of the registrants is asking us to convert his or her learning to credit, representing the first little trickle of a potential revenue stream.
And concerning C and D...
We had a great response to our announcement at Fac-Staff Institute that we're seeking people to pilot the credit validation pathways designed to lead to a $25K degree. There were more than a dozen inquiries within the first day. The idea is that we combine methods that already exist, such as CLEP tests, St. Scholastica Challenge Exams, portfolio assessment and courses from our community college partners, along with some new ideas such as credit validation of MOOCs so that up to 96 credits transfer in at a low price point. Students finish up by taking at least their final 32 credits with us to earn a St. Scholastica degree.
A splendid time was had by all
Thanks to everyone who was part of the 100th birthday celebration and Science addition ribbon-cutting last week. Who knew that Duluth Mayor Don Ness has so many connections to us, starting with his own Dad? Check out the video of the worship service at which he spoke and read a proclamation, at centennial.css.edu. The site has lots of other new content, and we'll be adding some of the good media coverage we're generating.
Come to the Cloud
If you're free on Oct. 8, come on down to St. Cloud for two big events. At 2:30 p.m. we'll have a groundbreaking ceremony for a sharp new building we'll move into next fall, at 137 23rd Street S. in Sartell. It will offer higher visibility and more space for classrooms, labs and student social areas. At 4:30 p.m. we'll have a celebration of our 10th anniversary in St. Cloud and the College's Centennial, at our current campus at 4150 Second St. South, Suite 330 in St. Cloud. That program will include the unveiling of a mounted piece of bluestone from which Tower Hall is constructed.
An 'A+ school for B students'
US News & World Report's new 2013 "America's Best Colleges" rankings have us 27th in the "Best Midwestern Regional Universities" category. That's down a notch from a year ago. We also show up in a new way, as an "A+ School for B students." The category considers one's performance in the Best Colleges rankings and the average freshman retention rate, that is, the percentage of freshmen who return for their sophomore year. A few notables that also make this list include the University of Iowa (#7 among national universities), Beloit College (#9 among national liberal arts schools), and UMD (#37 in our own regional university category).
The Last Word
President's Staff starts every meeting with a prayer or spiritual reflection. At Tuesday's meeting, Beth Domholdt noted that it was the second day of the Jewish new year. She shared apple slices and honey for dipping – a Jewish tradition – and offered the following reflection taken from "Praying the Word - Illuminated Prayers and Wisdom from The Saint John's Bible":
Hear, O Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
The Shema, the essential prayer of Judaism, proclaims the uniqueness of the Lord God. Jesus also says the same prayer in chapter 12 of Mark's gospel.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself, there is no other commandment greater than these.
In the spirit of hospitality, we invite your comments and questions. Click here.
||Community Day is Oct. 3 and many groups out there need our help to recover from flood damage. The day kicks off with volunteers gathering where high water hurt our campus the worst – our now-good-as-new entrance bridge – before heading out to do good deeds. See you there at 8:30 a.m.