Posted: September 22, 1999

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees today approved the creation of the Northeast Minnesota Higher Education District to promote academic cooperation among institutions and maximize educational resources.

The district, beginning Oct. 1, will include Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Mesabi Range Community and Technical College in Virginia and Eveleth and Vermilion Community College in Ely.

Rainy River Community College will become part of the district in the academic year 2001-2002, and Hibbing Community College will join the district when President Tony Kuznik chooses to retire.

One of the key features of the new arrangement is that the colleges will share a single president. An expedited search for the district president will begin soon under the guidance of Inver Hills Community College President Cheryl Frank. A recommendation is expected in December.

"This plan is good for students because it will result in academic sharing and better use of resources for the individual campuses," said Michael Vekich, chair of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees. "The new structure keeps each college's unique identity and maintains strong ties to the individual communities."

Morris J. Anderson, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, said the plan has strong legislative support and broad community support. Questions raised at a July 27 public hearing have been responded to, he said.

"This plan is designed to enhance access and learning options for students," said Anderson. "It will assure students that the resources will be there to meet their needs in the Northeast area."