Posted: August 23, 1996

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Jon M. Harris has been appointed president of a newly created multi-college district composed of Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and Vermilion Community College.

His appointment, which takes effect today, was recommended by Chancellor Judith Eaton of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) and approved unanimously by the MnSCU Board of Trustees on Thursday, August 22.

Mesabi Range Community and Technical College consists of the former Mesabi Community College in Virginia and Range Technical College, Eveleth. The two colleges consolidated on July 1, 1996. Vermilion Community College is located in Ely. Harris will directly administer all three campuses in the two-college district.

Harris has served as president of Vermilion Community College since 1993. He also headed Mesabi Community College from 1993 until the recent consolidation.

"Jon Harris will bring a wealth of experience and wisdom to this position," Eaton said. "He has the know-how and the vision to take advantage of the opportunities created by the new district."

Eaton said she received valuable advice on the appointment from the campus communities during a visit to the region on August 9. She met with students, faculty and administrators from the three campuses and with community leaders and legislators.

Board of Trustees policy calls for the chancellor to recommend one of the incumbent presidents or to propose a search when selecting a president for a consolidated college or multi-college district.

Joe Dennie, CEO of the former Range Technical College, Eveleth, also was a candidate for the presidency of the district. He will serve as dean of occupational education for the two colleges.

"We had two strong candidates for this position, either of whom would have done an excellent job. Jon Harris' deep roots in the community, combined with his exceptional skills, make him particularly qualified for the presidency," Eaton said.

"I am pleased and honored by the appointment," Harris said. "I have enjoyed my responsibilities as president of the Mesabi and Vermilion campuses and look forward to serving the Eveleth campus and its constituencies," he said.

Harris has held administrative positions at Vermilion Community College continuously since 1969, including provost, vice provost, dean of students, co-acting president and administrative assistant. From 1964 to 1969 he held positions with the public schools in Pine City, Minn., including director of the Head Start Program, assistant principal, chairman of the Social Studies Department and history instructor.

Harris has been very active in the community, serving on the Ely Area Development Council; the Virginia Area Development Association; the Ely Legislative Relations Committee; the IRRRB Higher Education Committee; the Ely Chamber of Commerce; the Committee for an International Wolf Center; the North American Bear Center; the Ely Public Schools Planning, Evaluating and Reporting Committee; and the Vermilion Interpretive Center Board.

A native of Biwabik, he attended Virginia and Eveleth junior colleges and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a B.S. in history. He received a master's degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin, Superior.

Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and Vermilion Community College are member institutions of MnSCU, a system of community colleges, technical colleges and state universities serving more than 151,000 students at campuses in 46 communities around the state.