Metropolitan State University President Ginny Arthur, Leading the Way for the Common Good

“I’ve come a long way from the scared, first-generation college student, who had no idea how to navigate the alien world of higher education and cried herself to sleep nearly every night of my first semester, annoying my very confident and worldly roommate.” That student is now Metropolitan State University’s seventh president, Virginia (Ginny) Arthur, a leader dedicated to the “daunting but sacred responsibility” of supporting “the hopes and dreams of many traditionally underserved students.” In her inauguration speech on April 7th, Arthur emphasized the importance of “nurturing and developing rich but under-utilized talent” to the continued health and vitality of the Twin Cities and the state, as well as to students and their families, noting with pride that Metropolitan State University is the top-ranked Minnesota institution on CollegeNet’s Social Mobility Index.

Arthur described partnerships as “our most effective strategy for achieving our mission.” She cited many examples, including the East Side Economic Growth Initiative, the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership, the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota, and academic partnerships with local community and technical colleges. Opening the ceremony with North Hennepin Community College students singing music from many cultures and a Dakota blessing by Virgil Mountain Blacklance—then serving food prepared by Saint Paul College culinary students at the reception—also showed such partnerships in action.

According to Metropolitan State’s founding statute, “the campus of Metropolitan State University is the seven-county metropolitan area.” Arthur celebrated that vision, “which holds that knowledge takes many forms and is situated in the communities in which we are embedded. . . . We are proud that our faculty collaborate with community partners to offer more than 400 course sections with the ‘community engagement’ designation, meaning that students are learning from, with, and alongside community experts who are deeply knowledgeable.  Through this engagement our students are prepared for success and leadership in their careers and with an understanding of the responsibility of an educated citizen to apply their knowledge and skills in service to the public good.”

In closing, Arthur pledged to lead in the spirit of a John Quincy Adams quote, shared with her by a soon-to-be-alumnus: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” That commitment was evident not only in the inauguration’s theme—Leading the Way for the Greater Good—but its contents and participants. Minnesota Campus Compact is grateful for Ginny Arthur’s deeply civic-minded leadership at Metropolitan State University and in this coalition.