- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Two faculty unions have pulled out of a long-term planning process within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The unions notified MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone this past week that they won’t participate in the “Charting the Future,” expressing concerns about “trust and transparency.”

Charting the Future aims to promote collaboration among campuses, modernize academic programs and spend money more efficiently, among other reforms. Some of the first innovations are expected to roll out in the spring.

The union presidents - Jim Grabowska of the Inter Faculty Organization and Kevin Lindstrom of the Minnesota State College Faculty - said in their letter to the chancellor Thursday that their organizations still embrace the values of Charting the Future, but that faculty concerns have been largely ignored and that the process is leading to predetermined results.

Among other things, the faculty unions are upset that Rosenstone was not upfront about the participation of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which did free work on the project two years ago and was quietly hired for $2 million this year.

“Change is hard, and is always accompanied by high emotion and complication,” Rosenstone said in a statement Friday. “While the heads of the unions may have made the regrettable decision to walk away from the table, their seats will be there for them whenever they decide to return.”

The unions represent over 8,000 faculty members at the 31 two- and four-year schools in the MnSCU system, which is separate from the University of Minnesota.

Lari Cooper, president of the Minnesota State University Student Association, said four-year student delegates will discuss Charting the Future next month. She said that during a steering committee meeting earlier this month, Rosenstone aggressively rejected her request for greater student representation in the process. But she said students on the project’s implementation teams have reported positive experiences.

“There will be a discussion about how everyone else feels about how the process is going and how we’ll participate,” Cooper said. “As of now, we’re still involved, and our students will keep working on the committees.”

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