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MnSCU picks Rosenstone as chancellor-elect

ST. PAUL — University of Minnesota vice president Steven Rosenstone was chosen Wednesday to lead Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, a sprawling system of 32 colleges and universities.

After two days of public interviews, the system's trustees chose Rosenstone, 59, the university's vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs, in a 14-1 vote. The trustees picked Rosenstone over the other finalist, 63-year-old William Sederburg, Utah's commissioner of higher education and a former college president.

The chancellor-elect will take the MnSCU helm at a time of declining state support, growing enrollment and worries about rising tuition.

If he accepts the job, Rosenstone will start Aug. 1. He would replace Chancellor James McCormick, who is retiring after 10 years on the job.

More than 200,000 degree-seeking students attend the system's colleges and universities this year, a record high and the fifth straight annual increase.


Enrollment has been soaring in the system at the same time state support as a share of the overall budget has been falling. McCormick, the outgoing chancellor, has said that while state appropriations covered about 66 percent of the system's costs in 2002, it was only about 43 percent this year.

As a result, the system has initiated several rounds of layoffs and clamped down on various expenses, including travel and equipment purchases. The number of courses being offered is shrinking and class sizes are rising.

Tuition is going up. Last year, the trustees raised tuition an average of 4.4 percent at the system's 25 state and technical colleges. Undergraduates at the system's universities saw their tuition bill go up 4.8 percent.

Scott Thiss, chair of the board of trustees, said Wednesday morning the system hadn't agreed on a compensation package without either candidate. McCormick is paid a base salary of $360,000 with up to $50,000 a year in performance bonuses.

In response to questions from the trustees Wednesday, Rosenstone said over the next 10 years he would focus on pushing to improve the quality of the education the system provides. "That is fundamentally what the people of Minnesota were counting on when they authorized the system," he said.

At the same time, he said, the system needs to find a financial structure that will allow it to function long term. That means controlling costs and finding new ways to teach. The system also needs to become more collaborative, both among its own schools and with the K-12 school system that feeds into it.

Rosenstone said getting there will take ideas from everyone, not just the chancellor's office in St. Paul. "The approach has to be to engage the best minds across the system," he said. "My vision of leadership is that it's a team sport."

Rosenstone has been vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs at the University of Minnesota since 2007. He came to the university in 1996 as dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He started climbing the academic ladder at Yale University, where he was a professor before leaving for the University of Michigan in 1986.

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