Monday Moments with President Bergman: February 8, 2021

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on February 8th, 2021 by

When I first transitioned from a career as a biomedical engineer to being President at Gustavus, I knew that much of my work would center on creating and executing a strategic plan, partnering with our faculty and staff to advance the mission of the College, and meeting with alumni and prospective students to talk about the opportunities that exist on the hill. One of the many other things that go into the job of being President—and one I have truly come to enjoy—is advocating to our elected officials on behalf of Gustavus students and private liberal arts education.

President Rebecca M. Bergman

Recently, I have had the honor of testifying to the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives Higher Education Committees on behalf of Gustavus and the Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC). Both of these Higher Education Committees have new members who are either newly elected or have not previously served on the Committee, and they have been making sure that all members are well informed about higher education in Minnesota.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the MPCC, it consists of 17 nonprofit private liberal arts colleges and universities in Minnesota, including familiar names such as Carleton, Macalester, St. Olaf, St. Thomas, Augsburg, and Saint John’s/Saint Ben’s. The MPCC’s mission is to serve members’ shared needs and advocate for public policy that: (1) meets the educational needs of students; (2) Enhances private higher education, and (3) strengthens Minnesota’s economic and civic fabric. One of the main goals of the Council is to advocate for the State Grant program, which is the State’s need-based financial aid program that helps reduce economic barriers to educational success for lower- and middle-income Minnesotans. Minnesota private colleges and universities award approximately 30% of the bachelor’s degrees in the state, compared to 33% from the University of Minnesota system and 33% from the Minnesota State colleges and universities.

Along with several other MPCC Presidents, I had an opportunity to advocate for the importance of private higher education in our state, the value of liberal arts education, and the importance of the State Grant program for many of our students. At Gustavus, we currently have 823 students who receive the Minnesota State Grant, which is 35% of our student body. Like other Minnesota colleges and universities, we view the State Grant program as an investment in the State’s future. Approximately 20,000 Gustie alumni live and work in Minnesota, contributing to their communities and giving back to the state economy through their leadership, service, and tax contributions.

Here was my key message to both Higher Education Committees: “Now more than ever, it is important that we can continue to support students of high aspiration and promise as our institutions continue to deal with COVID-19while also working to equip our students to graduate and serve their communities and the state of Minnesota.”

I also shared a quote from one of our Minnesota State Grant recipients. She said: “The last year has made me really appreciate everything we have and the opportunities that are afforded to us at Gustavus. COVID-19 has made me realize how important it is to be surrounded by people who are supportive and take care of one another.”

This week, take some time to think about your Gustavus experience and the experiences of those who you interact with each day. Whatever your background, remember that each of us are walking our own path even as we move forward together. With this in mind, let us live out that student’s vision for Gustavus. Let us be a place where we surround others with support and take care of one another.

Until next week, Gusties, keep up the good work!

Yours in community,

President Bergman

 

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