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Legislative Audit Commission Meeting

Minutes

March 16, 2009

Members Present:

Representative Michael Beard Senator Don Betzold
Representative Rick Hansen Senator James Metzen
Representative Bill Hilty Senator Ann H. Rest
Representative Mary Liz Holberg Senator Claire Robling
Representative Ron Shimanski  
Representative Steve Simon  

Members Absent:

Senator Joe Gimse
Senator David Hann

 

Senator Ann Rest, Chair, called the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC) meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.  The purpose of the meeting was to release the evaluation, MnSCU Occupational Programs.

Senator Rest introduced Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor.  Mr. Nobles gave a brief overview of how two-year colleges within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system make decisions on which occupational programs to offer.  Mr. Nobles introduced Jody Hauer, manager for the MnSCU evaluation.  Ms. Hauer explained that the definition of “occupational program” through MnSCU includes Associate in Science degrees, but excludes Associate in Arts degrees.  She said that the colleges often did a good job assessing the economic conditions and workforce needs for their programs, but were inconsistent in determining job prospects or analyzing job forecasts for occupations related to their programs.  It is also unclear how well students get needed information on careers and job prospects.  Ms. Hauer said the evaluation’s key recommendations are the following:  1) colleges should assess labor supply and demand when reviewing programs; 2) MnSCU should explore improvements to its graduate follow-up survey to get more accurate information; 3) MnSCU should consider local economic conditions when reassessing enrollment caps on construction electrician programs; 4) colleges should improve the program advisory committees that are not fulfilling their potential; and 5) the MnSCU Board of Trustees should by policy require colleges to ensure the information on job opportunities is getting to students who need it.

At 9:37 a.m., Senator Rest recognized the commission had achieved a quorum for the record.

Senator Rest introduced two representatives of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities:  David Olson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and James McCormick, Chancellor.  Chancellor McCormick said that MnSCU fully embraces the seven recommendations made in the evaluation.  He said there are three areas that he wants to specifically address:  1) the advisory committees are clearly an area that needs improvement, 2) the relationships MnSCU has with the employers, and 3) MnSCU is committed to full disclosure about job prospects to the students and will work on improving how colleges communicate information to them.  Mr. Olson stated that the Board is after the Presidents to get out and talk to the employers in their community to get information about what’s going on locally. 

Steve Claypatch, an unemployed electrician who graduated from Anoka Technical College, asked to address the commission.  He expressed concerns about the objectivity of faculty members to speak on the behalf of students once they have graduated.  He suggested that MnSCU talk directly to the graduates, find out if they are still employed, and if not, find out why. 

Mr. Nobles asked members to encourage their colleagues to submit their topics by March 19th.  Senator Rest reminded members to take time to stop by Hennepin Technical College’s display in the Great Hall downstairs in the Capitol.  With no further discussion or comments, the meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m.

 

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Senator Ann H. Rest, Chair

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Shelly Watterud, Recording Secretary

 

Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155