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I'm sitting in the Student Union at Minnesota State University in Mankato. It's orientation day and my son Gio is in a session for students only, where he is choosing his classes. After that, we'll begin the 5-hour trip back north to Bemidji.

I went to this university in 2006-7, when it was still called Mankato State. Since then it has grown to become the second-largest campus in the state, after the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus. We just had lunch in the new dining commons, which was excellent. The fountain between the Union and the Library is sparkling in the sunlight. I'm vicariously very excited for Gio, and although it's hard to be sure I hope he is too.

There are seven universities in the Minnesota State system along with 31 Community and Technical Colleges. That makes it one of the largest systems in the US, along with SUNY and Cal State. Like the rest of higher education, the system is currently facing a number of challenges including demographic changes (fewer high school graduates), the after-effects of COVID, and even more recently, generative AI. Over the next 2 to 5 years, quite a bit could change. My suspicion, which I've mentioned a bunch of times lately, is that in the long(ish) run, the disruptions of technology will shift the emphasis (value? job prospects?) back toward activities that are truly human. That could be a boon to people in the Humanities, including me and Gio. In any case, it's an interesting time to be in higher ed, either as a student or a teacher.