Letters to the Editor: Flagship for Whom?

Readers weigh in on the student article

Note from a former Kittson County student
As a J School graduate during the Dark Ages (Elizabeth “Betty” Smith, 1958) and a then resident of Kittson County, one of the most remote of the counties, I gather from your article that nothing has changed. Sad but not surprising.

Actually, we would have been startled if anyone from The U cared enough about our class of 25 to visit. It was probably amazing that my friend and I did endure the 9-hour Soo Line ride to attend. It was a given I would attend college and the U was the only choice discussed - I believe Duluth had the only satellite campus at the time.

The quote from the Kittson County representative was rather sad - maybe not inaccurate as most of these young folk probably still grow up in rural settings without much intellectual stimulation or guidance. And realistically, how do towns like cold, dreary Hallock and Lancaster recruit many highly qualified teachers to prepare kids to pass current entrance tests and requirements. We had decent elementary educations but high school left us so unprepared.my friend Carolyn Peterson and I were still reading aloud to our senior classmates.

My daughter Rebecca Patterson is in the Finance Board of Directors at the University of Florida and has told me of University difficulties balancing all the obligations and expectations to meet financial and statical needs on all fronts - attracting students from our large, sprawling state is not one of them. Students are turned away in large numbers after failing admission requirements. The whole state cheers the Gators and wants to be part of the program. So why can’t UMN create this kind of appeal? I know Minnesota isn’t as stodgy as it was in 1958 when I fled to Hawaii to report for the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

Obviously it has to be a cumulative educational program with these young people getting better basic educations so they can cope with college. Then even appealing mailings to them (even as e mails ) should start in their sophomore years if it is unrealistic to send reps  to all these schools. How exciting for them to get a metropolitan experience after life in Kittson County!!! I know I could hardly wait to leave!!!
I hope you do a follow up article- I really enjoyed this one!
 - Elizabeth (Betty) Smith Patterson

Choosing the Morris campus
This is my first commentary on your excellent publication. "Flagship For Whom?" grabbed my attention as no other feature has. The fact of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities' elite R1 status and the continually rising high bar for undergraduate admissions has caused it to gain a seemingly mythological stature that apparently has alienated prospective students--and not just from greater Minnesota.

My daughter, a 2012 Mounds View High School magna cum laude graduate, was accepted by both Twin Cities College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and University of Minnesota - Morris. Preparing to major in biology she had applied to the College of Biological Sciences, understanding that if she was not accepted to that program (she wasn't) she would still be admitted to CLA (she was). 

Comparing the two campuses, our daughter found Morris to be, for her, a perfect setting of rural agrarian tranquility; ecological sustainability; historical recognition; architectural preservation; and ethnic and cultural student diversity. It was the ideal antidote to her super-competitive suburban high school that one of her fellow graduates had termed, "Dog-eat-dog."

As a Morris Scholar our daughter had slightly less than half of her four-year tuition covered by the scholarship, a sum which probably would not have been available to her at the Twin Cities campus. (The four-year Morris Scholarship is widely available to academically qualified students--a huge incentive to attend U of M, Morris.) Our daughter found the Morris sciences curricula extremely challenging. She and her roommates were a great support system for each other as they took all the sciences required in the pre-med sequence. Her roommates had come from farming communities within a two-and-a-half-hour radius of Morris. 2016 graduates with their BAs in biology, these girls have become life-long friends as one pursues a U of M Ph.D. in entomology, one is in medical school at U of M, Duluth, and our daughter pursues a master's degree in education. 

The Morris campus student body numbered around 1,800 - the same size as Mounds View High School in 2012. My daughter has no regrets about her choice and has expressed that her college experience was everything she could have hoped for personally and in preparation for meeting her career goals. 
 - Leann Johnson Paulson, BA 1982

To submit a letter to the editor, send it to murphrep@umn.edu.