Here is the Fall Semester welcome message from Minnesota State Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra that was sent to all Minnesota State employees during the first week of classes on August 24, 2017.
As you conclude the first week of the semester, and as my first month of serving as interim chancellor draws to a close, I confess to feeling a bit strange that I’m not starting the academic year on a campus. Even though this can be a nerve-wracking time of year (so much to do!), I have always loved the beginning of the fall semester ever since I first started my academic career as a faculty member. There’s an electricity in the air, and there’s a shared feeling that everyone – especially students new to campus – has a chance for a fresh start.
I take comfort in the fact, however, that although I’m not working on a campus, I have had the incredible opportunity to visit every one of our colleges and universities over the past several months. I’ve met with many campus-level leaders and students, and I’ve heard their optimism for the work we will do together this year. My travels reinforced for me the inherent strengths of our colleges and universities:
- First and foremost, our campuses are where the magic of higher education happens for our students, and it’s the faculty and staff who are the magicians, whether in the classroom or in student service offices, in hallways or student centers. Your dedication and commitment to the success of our students is nothing short of infectious, with the power to transform lives and communities.
- Second, our students are inspiring. I have been deeply moved by the stories our students shared – stories about the challenges they faced before college when higher education seemed like an unattainable dream; about how you, the faculty and staff, have guided them on their academic journey; and about their dreams for a successful career and a bright future.
- Third, our colleges and universities are places of hope and opportunity for students and their families, no matter their race or ethnicity, their income or social status, their color or national origin, their orientation or physical ability. That’s why our campuses advance the economic, social, and cultural vitality of our communities. It’s what makes our campuses economic drivers for business and industry. And it’s why people across the state view the campuses in their communities with enormous pride.
As I traveled the state I was struck by how unique our campuses are. None is like any other, and that’s a great strength for our system. Another strength is the critical aspects our colleges and universities share in common – in particular our focus on the success of our students. This strength allows us to leverage the complementarities that emanate from being part of a network of institutions.
We all have much to be proud of. Our system is one of the state’s greatest treasures. However, we must continue to adapt to an ever-increasing rate of change in higher education, both here in Minnesota and across the country. This will enable us to develop sustainable paths both programmatically and financially. Working with you, I will make sure that we aggressively keep our colleges and universities moving carefully and steadily forward, but I am under no illusion that I can do this alone. I am going to need your help and your best thinking to position our colleges and universities to attain each institution’s strategic goals.
To my mind, three principles have guided Minnesota State in recent years, and they will continue to be our priorities this year: the success of our students, our commitment to diversity and equity, and the financial sustainability of our colleges and universities. Another guiding principle this year will be transparency in communication. I pledge to communicate regularly and openly with you. I can be reached by email at chancellor*AT*minnstate.edu.
One priority is the creation of a broad and consultative process that serves not only to develop a shared understanding of what we need to do to meet the challenges we face, but also to foster a shared responsibility for getting the work done. That process includes students, faculty, and staff as active partners, and it serves the important purpose of enhancing engagement on campuses throughout the system.
I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to serve as interim chancellor of Minnesota State, and I am proud to be your colleague. I know that when I have concluded my service, I will cherish the privilege I have had to work with you.