Potency of Bemidji State's mission and vision evident during Trustee visit
President Jon E. Quistgaard
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, Chancellor Dr. James McCormick and key members of the chancellor's staff were on campus last week to begin system-wide planning for the next decade. During their two-day session, they explored the realities of shifting demographics, the challenges of tight budgets and the need to keep pace with student expectations. They reiterated their commitment to increased access for underrepresented students and the need for continued innovation in the teaching-learning process.
They came to plan for the future and while here, they came face-to-face with a glimpse of that future.
The board met Luke Dorman, a mathematics and secondary education major, who exuberantly shared his undergraduate research project with them. His study, first presented at last year's Student Scholarship and Creative Achievement conference, not only demonstrated his mathematical prowess, but also his ability to create new knowledge.
Preserving knowledge was the focus of Dr. Tony Treuer's talk to the trustees. He spoke about the urgency of documenting the Ojibwe language before tribal elders die and the knowledge is lost. He looks to preserve the information and transform it into the first extensive Ojibwe grammar manual. Dr. Treuer, Bemidji State's first Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, will use support from that fellowship, along with grants from the American Philosophical Society and the Bush Leadership Foundation, to further his work.
Meanwhile, Erika Bailey-Johnson, our new sustainability coordinator -- one of a few, if not the only sustainability coordinator in the system -- shared her vision for a campus with a reduced carbon footprint. In addition, Vice President for Administration and Finance Bill Maki described some of our city-university partnerships, including the Outdoor Program Center's move to the waterfront at Diamond Point Park and the free bus rides for BSU and NTC students through our arrangements with Paul Bunyan Transit. Trustees learned about the benefits and efficiencies the University can realize through such partnerships.
In the evening, the group was serenaded by the beautiful tones and passionate voices of opera singers, Dr. Jennifer Swanson, assistant professor, and BSU music student Sara Wabrowetz. Their pianist was another BSU student, Abe Hunter.
Had the trustees had another day on campus, they would have gained another glimpse into the future as nearly 600 participants of the historical trauma conference explored the past as a way to build a stronger future for Native Americans. Keynote speaker Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart challenged the audience to understand the impact of historical trauma in order to begin finding ways to help transcend it.
These brief, yet powerful, glimpses of Bemidji State reflect the potency of our mission and vision. By engaging in new worlds of thought, embracing responsible citizenship and educating for a world that can only be imagined, we progress toward our vision -- shaping the potential of those we serve, so they, in turn, may shape the worlds in which they live and work.
In interviews with our local media, Board of Trustees Chair David Olson and Chancellor McCormick spoke highly of our people, programs and goals for the future. Their praise reflects the work that each of us undertakes daily to make certain Bemidji State University is the very best that it can be. In the midst of our hurried lives, let's take time to celebrate their recognition of our accomplishments.