December 2017 newsletter
Learn about new majors offered by Bethel University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota — as well as how the College of St. Scholastica is increasing retention of students who are at a greater risk of dropping out. Then explore the ways that Gustavus Adolphus College is welcoming students of all religious faiths.
At first glance, it may appear that electrical engineering, product design and public health have little in common. But the new majors at Bethel University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota are all designed to spark innovation. These are just a few of the new majors that became available this year at Minnesota Private Colleges.
Name an invention in your lifetime. Now, try naming an invention that doesn’t rely on electricity. It’s tough.
That’s because most new consumer products — think Fitbit, electric-powered bikes, Bluetooth-enabled speakers — are powered by electricity. “There’s not a lot that isn’t electrical,” said Karen Rogers, an associate professor at Bethel University in St. Paul.
Which is why Bethel has made it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s in electrical engineering without leaving its St. Paul campus. In past years, Bethel offered a 3 + 2 dual-degree to earn a bachelor’s degrees in physics and electrical engineering in five years. A student’s freshman through junior years would be spent at Bethel, followed by a transfer to another institution for the final two years. But many students wanted to stay at Bethel.
So this fall Bethel began offering an electrical engineering degree, allowing students to immerse themselves in physics and electrical engineering. And they can do it in four years, not five. To make this happen, Bethel constructed two new electrical engineering spaces, outfitting the lab with specialized equipment. And it hired Rogers.
Rogers has been immersed in the field since enrolling at the General Motors Institute at age 17. After graduating with an electrical engineering degree, she jumped into graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. For the past 22 years, Rogers served as a professor of electrical engineering at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.
Bethel’s programs are practical, not just theoretical. Students will be required to complete an engineering project that involves adding a new feature to an existing product, developing a new invention or designing instrumentation for a physics experiment. Rogers plans to have the students collaborate with physicists in the department and engineers at local technology firms for this capstone design course.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
To develop products, Minnesota-based companies like Medtronic, Polaris and Ergotron rely on product designers to imagine, craft and create new stuff. But there aren’t enough talented Midwest designers to satisfy the needs of employers.
“They’re having trouble keeping people and are eager for homegrown talent,” said Gabriel Ruegg, an associate professor at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. “There’s definitely a demand for designers.”
So MCAD is starting a new product design major and has hired Ruegg, a graduate of Pratt Institute, to lead the effort. Before moving to Minneapolis in 2017, Ruegg lived in New York and designed new products. These included a rotary cheese grater, an inflatable castle-like playspace for kids and a colorful cutlery block.
MCAD is ramping up its product design offerings in 2018. In January, Ruegg will begin teaching an Introduction to Production Design course. In September, the college will add three courses: Drawing for Design, Digital Design and Product Design Studio. The goal is to add 10 to 15 students every year.
Every MCAD product design major will be required to take several entrepreneurial studies courses. Said Ruegg, “The broader goal is to help students understand how practical business constraints impact their work.”
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Students enrolled in Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota new public health program want to help people make better lifestyle choices. And after graduation, it’s likely they’ll find jobs. The number of health educators and community health workers is expected to jump 16 percent in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Saint Mary’s public health program, launched in September, is designed for working adults. Classes are eight weeks in length and meet once a week for four hours.
Todd Reinhart, Saint Mary’s dean of Sciences and Health Professions, said public health students are taught how to design and implement programs focused on reducing obesity, encouraging infant immunizations and other worthy goals. And they learn how to do it in a culturally appropriate ways.
“The person who delivers the public health message and what they say matters,” said Reinhart. Some of his career has focused on HIV/AIDS research; he is a graduate of Hamline University and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
At Saint Mary’s he wants students to gain practical experience. “We want to do more than just deliver content,” he said. “We want to provide students with the skills to make them immediately effective in the workplace.” Those jobs are likely to be at local or state government agencies, nonprofits or health care systems.
More than 140 majors are offered by the 17 institutions that are members of the Minnesota Private College Council. You can see a list of the current majors here; majors are also searchable using our website’s College Finder, which allows you to include arts and sports offerings in your query.
By Todd Melby
Colleges are continually looking for new ways to increase the retention of their students — especially students who may be at a greater risk of dropping out. The College of St. Scholastica has created a new program to try to do just that: Academic Plus supports incoming freshman who have slightly lower GPA and ACT scores.
“We wanted to support these students in an intentional way that can help them adjust and be successful at St. Scholastica,” said Lindsey Lindstrom, academic advisor and transfer student specialist.
The Academic Plus Program is a combination of academic support services designed to give students strong academic habits early in their college career. The program, which is entirely elective, includes logged study time in designated locations, academic coaching from a student affairs professional and habit-building assignments from their coach. If the students complete the requirements and keep a certain GPA, they will receive an academic scholarship.
“St. Scholastica offers its students a lot of scholarships to help make college more affordable,” said Jessica Johnston, academic advisor and coordinator of the Center for Academic Success and veterans services. “This program allows students to show the college that they have that academic potential, bumping up their academic aid.”
That recognition of academic ability is awarded to the students the second semester of their first year to reward them for the work they have done, Johnston said. “The student continues to receive the scholarship and isn’t expected to continue the programming as long as they stay in good academic standing,” she said. “The scholarship shows the students that we are committed to them and are investing in helping them succeed.”
Although the program is relatively new, the outcomes of the first participants are encouraging. The retention rate of the students who completed the program in the fall of 2015 was 97 percent in the beginning of spring semester — nearly 10 percentage points higher than students who were eligible but did not participate in the program. At the end of the academic year the retention rate was 91 percent — nearly 20 percentage points higher than students who were eligible but did not participate.
“Now we’re in the phase of looking long-term, down the road is this program benefiting the students?” Johnston said. “The outcomes from the first two years are positive and now that we have students who are juniors we can see how they have benefited.”
By Tom Lancaster
Many Minnesota Private Colleges have Christian affiliations that run deep, stretching back to when they were founded. At the same time, these institutions seek to welcome students with other religious beliefs and ensure they feel at home as well. That’s clear at Gustavus Adolphus College, which has strong ties to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
Chaplain Siri Erickson sees Gustavus’ Lutheran values driving the institution’s work around serving the needs of people from diverse religious backgrounds. While this takes many forms, one example was the recent opening of a multifaith, non-denominational space for students.
“Bonnier Multifaith Center, which opened this year, grew out of students’ need for a space to engage in a variety of religious practices,” Erickson said. “The center is used for Buddhist and mindfulness meditation, Muslim prayer, yoga and interfaith dialogue. It truly is a place where people from many different backgrounds feel welcome.”
Along with Christ Chapel, Bonnier Multifaith Center will be a meeting point on campus for everything from interreligious text studies to personal prayer and reflection. The center was designed to be a comfortable and welcoming space where everyone can practice their religion and where people can learn about the traditions and practices of other religions.
Meeting the spiritual needs of students also occurs outside of this space. One way is through access to a variety of religious communities’ places of worship.
“For example, we help our Muslim students get to mosque during Muslim holidays such as Eid,” Erickson said. “A mosque opened in St. Peter this year, and they have been very welcoming to our students.”
Speaking up about students’ needs is another key component to serving students of diverse faiths.
“Before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we communicate to faculty and administration that Jewish students, faculty and staff may ask for time off or need to miss class for their religious observances,” Erickson said. “We also help support students who have dietary practices related to their religious identity. To support Muslim students, our dining services has some regular halal options available, and we make special plans to accommodate food-related religious practices, such as fasting during Ramadan.”
Gustavus, like many private colleges, has an academic religious requirement that is designed to work with students’ varied interests and backgrounds. “There are a variety of courses that students can choose from to fulfill this requirement — our religion department focuses on the academic study of religion,” Erickson said. “The department is diverse. We have professors with expertise in Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, and we’re in the process of hiring a full time endowed Jewish Studies professor.”
Gustavus is focused on diversity, including religious diversity, Erickson said. “To do this well, we need to keep learning about one another’s traditions and practices and pay attention to specific things that are important to people of each tradition. We want to make sure our students have everything they need to practice their religious tradition during their time at Gustavus.”
By Tom Lancaster
When comparing college costs, one needs to weigh how long it will likely take to earn a degree.
For the 17 institutions in the Minnesota Private College Council, the four-year grad rate for first-time, full-time students is 66 percent; this compares to 52 percent at the U of M system and 23 percent at Minnesota State universities. This means that our students are more likely to graduate on time, stop paying tuition and start working.
Looking across sectors, our four-year grad rate is about the same as the five-year grad rate at the U of M. At Minnesota State, the six-year grad rate is still below our four-year grad rate, but is the best point of comparison. When it takes longer to graduate, there are additional costs to factor in. These include the one or two additional years of tuition, the loss of State Grant for those years and the opportunity cost of forgone earnings — averaging $35,529 per year for students who graduated in 2013-14.
Sources: IPEDS graduation rate and financial aid data for 2010 first-time, full-time cohort; lost earnings of $35,529 based on data from Graduate Employment Outcomes Data from MN DEED for 2013-14 graduates second year after graduation.
1. Fall 2009 cohort data was used for Minnesota State Universities because fall 2010 cohort data was not available.
2. Assumes same net tuition for first four years. Net tuition for fifth and six years based on same data but excludes State Grant due to four-year eligibility cap.
St. Kate's graduate behind monthly "Come Together" prayer service and peace walks
St. Catherine University alumnae Bonnie Steele '07 wants to spread healing, love and hope to neighborhoods across Twin Cities.
Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s ranked among top study abroad schools
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University are ranked among the top baccalaureate schools for the total number of students who studied abroad.
Lakota Language Initiative at Pine Ridge
Carleton College’s Sydney Botz '19 and Haley Grable '20 interned at the Lakota Immersion Childcare, developing educational curriculum for the next generation of fluent speakers.
After internet fame, Max the banned library cat meets with Macalester president
Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg and the very popular feline had a sit-down, and both agreed to record their cat chat.
Saint Mary’s launches new online business program
This January Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is launching a master’s degree in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics. In excess of 30 students will be enrolled in the fully online program.
Augsburg's Hagfors Center opens for courses January 8
Augsburg University's largest academic building embodies Augsburg’s commitment to student learning, urban placemaking and thoughtful stewardship.
Bethel student makes history and raises awareness for people with disabilities
Bethel University BUILD student Mikayla Holmgren ’18 became the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA state pageant.
University of St. Thomas kicks off $200 million scholarship drive, announces $50 million gift for GHR Fellows
The University of St. Thomas has set scholarships as priority one for fundraising with a goal of infusing $200 million in support for students over the next eight years.
CSP student-athletes achieve outstanding academic success rate
Concordia University, St. Paul student-athletes achieved a four-year 92 percent Academic Success Rate and are one of 32 NCAA Division II institutions to earn the Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence.
St. Olaf ranks No. 1 in study abroad for ninth straight year
St. Olaf College once again sent more students to study abroad than any other baccalaureate institution in the nation, according to the Open Doors 2017 Report on International Educational Exchange.
Civic-minded private college students hold winter conference
The Minnesota Association of Private College Students held its winter conference at St. Olaf College to discuss mental health on college campuses, the importance of the Minnesota State Grant Program and student senate transparency.
Winter issue of parent newsletter now available
A new issue of The Bridge: Parent News, our college planning e-newsletter for parents of a middle or high school student, is now online. Please consider sharing this useful resource with parents you might know — or sign up yourself!
Council graduation rate report now available
The report examines graduation rates for our member institutions compared to other sectors in Minnesota and nationwide averages.
New Council report on six-year graduation rates by need released
The report analyzes the six-year graduation rates by financial need indicators, including Pell Grant recipients, using new IPEDS data for the fall 2010 first-time, full-time cohort.
Job and Internship Fair scheduled for Feb. 27
Undergraduates students from our member institutions will meet and interview with employers at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the 42nd annual Minnesota Private Colleges’ Job and Internship Fair. More than 2,000 students attend each year.
Minnesota Private College Fund releases annual Donor Report
The 2016-17 report includes scholarship recipient profiles, information about the Minnesota Private College Fund and a list of donors.
Digitalization and the American workforce
The Brookings Institution, Nov. 2017
Minnesota higher-education leaders raise alarms about GOP tax plan
Star Tribune, Nov. 14, 2017
Poor girls are leaving their brothers behind
The Atlantic, Nov. 27, 2017
FAFSA goes mobile
Inside Higher Ed, Nov. 29, 2017
On their way? A portrait of young adults
The Brookings Institution, Dec. 1, 2017
Senate passes tax bill with major implications for higher ed
Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 4, 2017
GOP seeks to shift accountability for colleges
Inside Higher Ed, Dec. 4, 2017