This and that: Are two MnSCU personnel changes related to credit-transfer issue?

The MnSCU vice chancellor who’s had her hands full with the system’s credit-transfer issues — a sore subject for students and some legislators — is taking a job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Linda Baer, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, will become a senior officer with the Gates Foundation’s Post-Secondary Success Initiative. The Gates Foundation has been spending a lot of money on college readiness and post-secondary efforts across the country — unlike the budget-slashing in public higher education — so it stands to reason such a job would be attractive.

Baer’s move was announced Thursday.

But, in another credit-transfer development,  MnSCU Chancellor James H. McCormick announced early this week that he was appointing Anoka Technical College President Anne Weyandt as a senior fellow for academic affairs who will  “focus on credit transfer and student success issues” starting July 1, according to a news release.

I interviewed Baer in early May about the credit-transfer issues. “We have … commitments from our board of trustees that transfer is a very high priority for them,” Baer said at the time. “We have over half a million credits transferring every year and of those, 90 percent are accepted. So, there’s a high level of exchange of these credits already and much of it is working. We’re also committed to continually improving what’s going on.”

Scott R. Olson, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at Minnesota State University, Mankato, will be recommended to MnSCU’s board of trustees as the interim vice chancellor of academic and student affairs, McCormick said. The board meets later this month. Olson, the provost since 2003, is a former dean of the College of Communication, Information and Media at Ball State University in Indiana.

McCormick, who is retiring next year, has nice things to say about Baer and Olson in this press release.

The University of Minnesota this week received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to set up the nation’s 33rd Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

According to the announcement, the center will focus on three themes: emerging markets, environmental sustainability and less commonly taught languages. The U plans to match federal funding it receives over the next four years.

The center, which will be based in the U’s Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis, initially will serve businesses and educators in Minnesota. But it’s also expected to become a resource for Iowa and the Dakotas.

“This grant will build on and leverage what we’re already doing to further benefit companies, educational institutions and other units within the University,” said Michael Houston, Carlson’s associate dean of international programs and the U’s CIBER director.

A search is under way for a managing director. The center is expected to open in the fall. This press release offers more details on center offerings.

Century College in White Bear Lake is hosting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mobile Fab Lab in June. Starting today, the Fab Lab (or fabrication laboratory) will be parked on the East Campus near the new Science/Library building and open for visits until noon Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

The lab is in a large trailer that “houses a computer-controlled design and machining shop for people who want to design and build almost anything,” according to a press release from Century.

The idea is to “promote and apply” science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). More details about the lab’s interesting history here. [PDF]

Please send news and links (when possible) to press releases to cselix[at]minnpost[dot]com.

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