New Board, New Beginnings
By: Vice Chair, Lexi Byler
I’m the type of person who naturally has an abundance of energy. I love adventures, spontaneity, and being around people. The amount of energy I had for this board meeting was unprecedented. Although my term started in July, there was something about the first board meeting that really fired me up for the upcoming year. There’s just something special about having representatives from all seven state universities in one room. As soon as the board members started to arrive, I could tell I wasn’t the only person motivated and energized. Everyone brought positive vibes and was excited to be working together.
After the small talk of updating each other on our summer endeavours, we jumped into the meeting. Near the top of the agenda was reports and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing what each director is working on at their campus. One recurring topic during reports was textbook affordability. Like most students, the rising costs of textbooks has hurt my bank account one too many times, so I was pleased to hear about how many campuses are addressing this issue.
Here are some of my favorite things from each report:
Bemidji: They’ve just approved the creation of a diversity center and will be working on the foundation for that.
Metro: They’re working on obtaining prayer mats for students.
Mankato: They’re working on creating a festival of nations event to celebrate diversity on campus.
Moorhead: Their enrollment has increased for the first time since 2013.
St. Cloud: They're working on establishing a bias response team.
Southwest: They created an action plan for textbook affordability.
Winona: They created a food pantry on campus.
Following the reports, we took care of our first meeting duties by completing our legal training and reviewing this year’s budget and financials. We then moved on to a more exciting topic - the 50th anniversary celebration! The director of programs and alumni outreach, Carlee Diggins, gave a wonderful presentation on the event and asked the board to help get university sponsorships.
We then discussed the idea of hosting a gubernatorial debate, featuring each of the candidates for the governor of Minnesota. Everyone thought this was a great idea and a good chance to question the next potential governor of Minnesota on higher education issues. The staff is going to move forward with this idea and begin looking into the logistics of making it happen.
Near the end of the meeting is when we discussed our goals for the upcoming year. We had a good debate on what we as a board would like to work on and accomplish. After a long discussion, we decided on the following:
Upholding the responsibilities of the board agreement
Having each university President sign the carbon commitment
Have each university have an affirmative consent policy
Create a textbook affordability plan for each campus
Overall, we had a productive meeting. The energy and motivation in the room was contagious. With the hard work and dedication of each member, I know this year will be a success. I’m excited to have the privilege to work alongside this group of intelligent, young scholars.