Campus Visit: College of St. Scholastica
A reflection from Executive Director, Rob Barron
I tell people often that my favorite part of my job is visiting campuses across Iowa and Minnesota. As beautiful as your places to work often are, and as much as the foodie in me likes hunting out fun places to eat, the reason I love these visits is the opportunity to build and sustain relationships within the network. I’m grateful to work for an organization that is sustained by the relationships of community-facing individuals united by good work.
With that in mind, I recently made a visit to Duluth. I spent time in Cloquet discussing College Corps with Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. I found yummy food. And I got to spend half of a day at the College of St. Scholastica. I enjoyed a campus tour and discussion with staff and faculty on CSS’ community engagement work.
In many ways this visit became a reset. Even though CSS was involved in our coalition because their president is an active member of our board and they send representatives to our network gatherings and awards, a staff departure had led to a new point of contact for us. This was not unusual. As our staff built our 2023-2024 Future-Focused Listening Tour, we were struck by how many of our formerly key contacts had moved on after the pandemic. The post-pandemic Great Resignation hit higher education hard and there is evidence that it will continue to affect us.
As has happened on many of your campuses, the staff role that was vacated was not filled. So the dozen staff and faculty I met with were working in committee, alongside their other meaningful roles on campus, to fulfill the expectations of the campus to build an equitable relationship with their community and provide opportunities for students to meet the campus’ Civic Learning Outcome. Towards the end of my half-day visit we had moved towards some practical steps forward for IAMNCC to support CSS including faculty engagement in our Engaged Faculty Institute.
Another practical step forward was honoring CSS’s request for some connections with campuses that are in the same position (navigating a staff departure or position reduction). We’re very happy to play that role and I made some suggestions on the spot. One of the best parts of nurturing this web of relationships is facilitating conversations across campuses. If you are new to your role and would like to connect with someone with experience in a similar dynamic… or if you have a wealth of experience and would like to share it… please reach out to me and we’ll gladly play matchmaker!
I’ll be on several more campuses yet this academic year, so I look forward to seeing you all and finding which of the many avenues of support offered by IAMNCC can support you and your institution.