MnSCU Trustees Approve New College Partnerships in Northeastern Minnesota

Posted: May 15, 1996

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

The nine community and technical colleges in northeastern Minnesota got the go-ahead today to form several new partnerships aimed at cutting administrative costs, improving academic programming and service to students and maintaining close ties to their communities.

The plan was recommended to the Board of Trustees of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) after extensive discussion with the affected communities. The board approved the recommendations today during a regular meeting in St. Paul.

The action will eliminate four campus president positions and reduce administrative costs by at least $300,000 annually. Key elements of the plan, which takes effect July 1, include:

--Vermilion Community College at Ely will join a multi-college district with the soon-to-be consolidated Mesabi Community College at Virginia and Range Technical College-Eveleth. The president of this district will oversee one campus, and there will be campus administrators at the two other sites reporting to that president.

--The soon-to-be consolidated Hibbing Community College and Range Technical College-Hibbing will form a consortium of colleges with Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids and Rainy River Community College in International Falls. The colleges will develop a plan to integrate and coordinate programs and services. The consolidated Hibbing college, Itasca and Rainy River each will have its own president.

--Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College will develop a strong program relationship with Lake Superior College, a consolidated community and technical college in Duluth.

--The Arrowhead Community Colleges, a central office with authority over six community colleges in northeastern Minnesota, will not continue in its present form. It will become an Arrowhead/Range Service Center and will continue to assist the colleges.

"This new alignment of colleges will ensure that the people of northeastern Minnesota have access to enhanced higher education programs," said Chancellor Judith Eaton. "We will save money, and we will put that money back into academic programs that address student needs and regional priorities."

The board previously had approved the consolidation of the Hibbing colleges (to be called Hibbing Community College, A Technical and Community College) and of the colleges at Virginia, Eveleth and Ely (still to be named). Those consolidations also take effect on July 1.

Harry Peterson, MnSCU deputy chancellor, noted that the recommendations reflected the community sentiment expressed at public forums last November in Hibbing, Eveleth, Ely, International Falls and Grand Rapids. Community members urged that the colleges in their cities have a strong identity.

He said the new administrative structure seeks to balance an interest in retaining the colleges' identities and the need to achieve administrative savings and program improvements.

The colleges in northeastern Minnesota serve more than 7,000 students in a seven-county area with a population of more than 300,000 people.

In other action today, the Board of Trustees:

--Rescinded layoff notices that had been sent to 54 technical college faculty members. The notices had been authorized in March, but the board restored the positions, based on recommendations from the college presidents.

The board also acted to lay off 204 technical college faculty members because of expected funding shortfalls and reduced enrollments. Those notices also had been authorized in March, but required final action.

Today's action involved non-probationary faculty. At its March meeting, the board also authorized layoff notices for approximately 290 probationary faculty.

Also today, the board authorized layoff notices for 41 technical college faculty members at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, which was not included in the first round of layoff notices. And in a related move, the reduction or suspension of 20 programs at the college was approved.

The layoffs are being authorized at this time to comply with a deadline in the state law governing technical college instructors' employment rights. Layoff notices must be sent in the spring to any faculty members being laid off for the coming fall quarter. Some of those receiving notices are part-time employees, and others are being cut back in hours, but not losing their jobs.

The campus presidents recommended the layoff notices based on worst-case budget projections for the coming fiscal year. Past experience suggests that 50 to 60 percent of faculty members receiving layoff notices may be reinstated by fall quarter.

--Elected Trustee David Erickson as the new treasurer of the Board of Trustees. Erickson, a Mahtomedi resident, replaces John Mulder, who recently resigned from the board.

--Approved new academic programs. Mankato State University will offer a new bachelor of science in aviation with emphases in professional flight and aviation management. Rainy River Community College in International Falls and Confederation College in Fort Frances, Ontario, jointly will offer a new associate of applied science degree in international business.