New year, new role as VP

Despite retiring at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, Brenda Flannery is returning to Minnesota State with a new role. 

Announced in early December, Flannery accepted the position of Interim Vice President of Student Success and Engagement. The job comes with ensuring student advising can “be the best it can for students,” according to Flannery. She said her job also oversees MavConnect along with an upcoming student advising academy. 

“Every faculty and staff member that interacts with students is able to take a beginner, intermediate and expert course in advising professional development and there’ll be a certificate associated with that,” Flannery said. “We do a lot of collaboration and coordination with all of those advising resources on campus.”

Flannery heard about the role after an email was sent out to the campus. She received an anonymous nomination for the role and after looking into the description, she said it was “too exciting” for her not to apply. 

“I spent a lot of my fall doing a lot of research and reading about the future of higher ed and I couldn’t stop myself because I’m so passionate about creating the most engaging, learning opportunities for students,” Flannery said. “When this role opened up, I thought, ‘It has three of my favorite things: students, engagement and partnerships.’ I thought I’d throw in my hat for the position and see where it goes.”

Despite her role starting Jan. 2, Flannery said she’s involved in important projects. 

“From talking to President Inch, he’s very focused on the student’s success with this role heavily in support of Destination 2030 and wanting MSU to be a leader in transformational learning,” Flannery said. 

One of the goals Flannery has is to expand high-impact learning and engagement practices. High-impact learning includes study abroad programs, learning communities and internships.

Flannery said she would also like to see more students participate in service learning projects that improve the community during their class. 

“Students provide a service, but still learning and reflecting on what’s happening. Some of my former students in my Principles of Management class did service learning and they helped launch the Campus Kitchen here,” Flannery said.

She said practicing and theory taught together is “the most incredible” learning that can happen for a student. 

“If you have practice, but don’t have a way to reflect on it, the information kind of stays out there,” Flannery said. “When you connect it to theory and reflection and have those conversations with faculty and your students, it gets cemented.”

Another goal Flannery said she has is expanding external partnerships between the campus and the community. 

“I’ll become a bit of a facilitator and a matchmaker so we can begin to have a robust group of external partners, so when a student comes to us, they know we have lots of opportunities and these partnerships in place,” Flannery said. 

Flannery said she’s most looking forward to the combination of engaging with students, working with external partnerships to build President Inch’s vision and redefining who a student is. 

“We will continue to be a partner with you in your learning journey throughout your entire life,” Flannery said. “Transformational learning doesn’t just happen with a bachelor’s degree, it takes place throughout our entire life.”  

Flannery said she plans to take the high-impact practices and strategic planning she gained from her previous position as the Dean of the College of Business to her new one. 

Photo caption – ​​Brenda Flannery is returning to Minnesota State with a new role as Interim Vice President of Student Success and Engagement. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at Emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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