Weekly Update

Despite the unseasonably beautiful weather, this last week of October will be difficult.  The college administration has shared with many constituent groups the challenge the college faces in crafting a balanced budget for the 2015-2016 academic year.  October 31 is the first deadline that must be met in taking steps to assure that Northland remains fiscally healthy and able to serve the communities of northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota.

To quickly reiterate:  Northland must reduce its budget by $1.1-$1.6 million.  This deficit is due to four factors:  reduced state allocation, frozen tuition, inflation and compensation increases, and reduced enrollment.  Although we anticipate that the legislature will favorably consider MnSCU’s proposal for increases to the allocation, we do not believe that the legislature will allow public colleges to raise tuition.  Inflation dictates increases in expenditures.  Finally, Northland is actively working to increase enrollment despite the robust regional economy that provides ample employment opportunities.

As we approach decisions, we are adhering to four principles:

  • Focus on programs and services that link the college and the region to the future.
  • Our finances don’t allow the college to retain all existing programs and add new programs that meet emerging community needs.
  • We need programs that attract investment; tuition alone will not support high tech innovation.
  • Grants, partnerships with business & industry, and philanthropy are essential to the future of the college.

We all need to remember that Northland is a phenomenal asset to the region – we are a POWERFUL partner in our communities.  And, we are committed to retaining this position of strength.  It is time to clearly emphasize our strengths:

  • Aerospace:  We have had an eight-year arc of change within this area.  In 2007, we nearly closed the program because of lack of enrollment.  Then, reinvestments were made and growth occurred.  In 2010 and 2011, a total of nearly $10 million in grants were received allowing the development of new programs.  These developments have transformed the college technologically and have attracted industry partners and bonding funds to construct a new building.  With the strong regional commitment to developing the unmanned aerial systems industry and to the emergence of autonomous technology in agriculture, Northland will propel students into high wage career positions in UAS, Big Data, and Precision Agriculture.
  •  Agriculture: There is a revolution occurring in agriculture.  We are working to diversify our focus from only Farm Business Management to high tech developments in precision agriculture, high school/college/university articulations in general agriculture, agri-business, and agricultural education.  We are in the right place at the right time.  We have the talent to go in these directions and we have the unique assets of the UAS, Imagery Analysis, and Geospatial Intelligence programs to support them.
  • Health Care:  We are the premier provider of education for health professions in our area.  Hundreds of our graduates staff regional hospitals, clinics, and care facilities.  The enrollment in these programs will remain strong because degrees and certificates are required for employment, demand for employees will continue to be high, and wages are attractive.
  • Trades and Mechanics: Northland has strong trades and mechanics programs.  However, we have continued to offer our programs in traditional academic patterns – day-time from August to May.  We may able to leverage our programmatic strengths by diversifying the length of programs and the schedules at which they are offered.  Greater flexibility may serve the needs of more potential students and employers.
  • Liberal Arts – Transfer:  The Liberal Arts offerings at both campuses provide the foundation for transfer.  We need to remember to emphasize that we provide the first two years of a university degree – and we have many universities to which our students transfer successfully.  Additionally, the liberal arts can be the foundation for career programs in business, management, and human services.  The Academic Master Planning process should reveal options for the college to develop in the future.

So, with all of this positive reflection, why have I said that this last week of October will be difficult?

The first deadline we reach for making decisions that will affect our academic mix and our budget is October 31.  The Minnesota State College Faculty (MSCF) contract requires that any faculty who might be affected by a lay-off be notified by this date.  This gives affected faculty members seven months to consider other options.

Based on several years of program review, several lay-off notices will be issued this week.  The reviews have been based on metrics related to enrollment, student success, student-faculty ratios, and cost of the program relative to tuition revenues.  Programs where notices will be given have been in a “sustainability” process for several years.

Lay-off notices at this time do not automatically mean that the programs will no longer be offered.  The college is committed to working with individual faculty members and the faculty association to ascertain if there are changes to programs that would make them more successful and/or reduce program deficits.

October 31 is the first milepost on the decision-journey toward a balanced budget.  From November to May, the following activities will be occurring:

  • The Academic Master Plan will be completed and will form the basis for program decisions, academic additions, and grant-seeking in the future.  The AMP will identify what are the strongest and/or most unique opportunities, what are the unique characteristics of each campus, and what program mix best meets the needs of our communities.
  • We will continue to work to restructure our agricultural offerings so that they have broader reach and attract a broader audience of learners.  Through this work and our association with AgCentric – the Northland Center of Excellence, we will respond to the evolution in agricultural technology and tie agriculture in with other college areas of expertise.  And, we will respond to the growing shortage of agricultural educators through articulations with university partners.
  • We will work with our faculty to hold on to existing programs – even those with challenges – through considering options for program length, methods of delivery, and alternate schedules.
  • We will work to develop greater connections to business and industry through advisory groups and customized training.
  • We will consider all other aspects of college performance, organization, and staffing.  Greater efficiencies will be employed wherever possible.

We will be connecting with community advisory groups, media, and internal audiences to assure that accurate information about decisions and future activities are shared.

I hope you will have a good week!

Upcoming College Events

Monday, October 27, 2014
·         5:30 PM – EGF Campus Wide Advisory Meeting – Commons

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
11:00 am – Why Treaties Matter : Guest Speaker – Dr. Jack Haymond – EGF Rm 250
·         9:00 PM – Halloween Rock ‘n Bowl – TRF Family Bowl

Thursday, October 30, 2014
·         10:00 am – Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence: The Role of Community and Culture – TRF Commons

·         10:00 am – Why Treaties Matter Exhibit – TRF Art Gallery

·         7:00 PM – Movie Night — The Purge: Anarchy – TRF Campus Theater

Friday, October 31, 2014
·         5:00 pm – Volleyball @ Regional Tournament

Saturday, November 1, 2014
·         TBD – Men’s Basketball @ Dakota College at Bottineau Tournament vs Candadien Mennonite

·         9:00 am – Wrestling @ Yellowjacket Open

Sunday, November 2, 2014
·         TBD – Men’s Basketball @ Dakota College at Bottineau Tournament vs University of Winnipeg

Monday, November 3, 2014
·         12:30 pm – Mayville State University Transfer Visit – TRF Theater Commons

·         12:00 pm – Why Treaties Matter : Guest Speaker – Dr. Jack Haymond – TRF Theater

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

·         11:00 am – 2:00 pm – “Charting the Future” Gallery Walk – EGF Campus

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
·         12:00 pm – Why Treaties Matter : Guest Speaker Jim Jones – TRF Theater

·         12:00 pm – 3:00 pm – “Charting the Future” Gallery Walk – TRF Campus

Thursday, November 6, 2014
·         6:00 PM – Choral Works Concert – TRF Theater

Saturday, November 8, 2014
·         10:00 am – Wrestling @ Bison Open

·         12:00 pm – Women’s Basketball vs. Alumni Scrimmage – TRF Gym

My Schedule this Week

Monday, Oct. 27 – TRF – Community Advisory Committee, NCTC Foundation Annual Meeting

Tuesday, Oct. 28 – TRF – Exec Committee, Donor Recognition, SGC Small Group meeting

Wendesday, Oct.  29 – EGF – North Valley Career Expo, Valley Prosperity Partnership Meeting

Thursday, Oct. 30 – EGF

Friday, Oct.  31 – EGF – Northland Aerospace Foundation Board meeting

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Weekly Update

This week, a very important event begins at the campuses of Northland Community and Technical College.  Why Treaties Matter – Self-Government in the Dakota an Ojibwe Nations is a traveling exhibit that is a collaboration between the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  The exhibit is presented in a series of tall posters that leads the viewer through the history of treaties between the indigenous people of this region and the American government.

The tribal government sovereignty that exists today was retained through the treaty process – not granted by the federal government.  The exhibit presents a deep look at relationships, the importance of the land, family ties and business interests of the Ojibwe and Dakota people.

To take full advantage of the exhibit, you might want to visit the supplemental website that includes several videos, including one that features Erma Vizenor, chairwoman of the White Earth Nation and a new member of the MnSCU Board of Trustees.  The web address is: http://treatiesmatter.org/about

The exhibit opens on Monday, October 20 in the front foyer of the East Grand Forks Campus.  It will move to the Thief River Falls Campus on Thursday, October 30 and will be available in the Art Gallery across from the Library until Nov. 7.

Other Activities and Happenings

We are having a lot of contact with the public in both Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks.  Last Monday, we had a second meeting with the TRF Community Advisory Committee.  During that meeting we took a deep dive into the factors that are affecting Northland’s financial conditions.  Information related to state allocation, tuition, inflationary factors, and enrollment was presented.  This was a good opportunity to share the difficulty of developing a solid budget in the midst of many moving pieces.  The group will meet again on October 27 to discuss options as we move forward.

Another topic discussed with the TRF group was the restoration of football. The recruitment announcement for a head coach has been distributed with a first review of applications to occur on Nov. 7. A housing committee comprised of college personnel and interested community members will have its first meeting on Thursday, October 23rd.

On Thursday, October 16, more than 150 people gathered in the EGF Commons for my final “State of the College” presentation.  We reviewed the strengths the college shares with the community, the challenges we face, and how we are fit to meet the challenges.  Carey Castle provided an overview of the Academic Master Planning process.  Probably the highlight of the event was the brief presentation from Amy Jenson and Sarah Vierzba, two students in the Physical Therapist Assistant program. They have conducted research (along with Aubrey Johnson) that has been selected, for presentation at the Combined Sections Meeting (CMS) to be held in Indianapolis, IN, February 4-7, 2015.  They told a powerful story about the value of their education at Northland, the opportunities for professional development, and their prospects for the future.  A similar event will be held in Thief River Falls later in the fall.

This week and next week we have the autumn technical advisory committee meetings. These are large group meetings at both campuses. Program advisory committees meet together for dinner and brief presentation and then divide into programs for deeper discussions.  The advisory committees are a truly valuable asset to our programs, providing up-to-date advice on what programs should cover, what equipment should be used to prepare students for employment, and employment prospects for our students.

Behind the scenes of all of these events are our wonderful employees who tend to the details and make them happen smoothly.  My deep thanks to Sheila Bruhn, Chad Sperling, Katie (Jurvelin) Jones, Matt Brenden, Rita Lealos, Colleen Kukowski, MaryJo Bydal, Lori Johnson, our facilities professionals on both campuses, and many others.

Charting the Future

The presidents of all MnSCU institutions have come together in a letter of commitment to the “Charting the Future” initiative.  The letter is attached to my email; please take time to look at it. One paragraph captures the commitment:

Through Charting the Future, we are taking proactive steps to meet the changing needs of our students, our stakeholders, and our communities.  This unprecedented collaborative effort provides us an opportunity to build on those things we do best, to identify areas for improvement and redesign, and to reconnect with the needs of our stakeholders.

We have scheduled Gallery Walks on both campuses to give all of our stakeholders an opportunity to see the work and suggestions of the first four implementation teams.  Interested people can come in, walk around, read the posters, and talk with team members. There will be an opportunity to provide feedback.  The walks are scheduled for Nov. 4 in East Grand Forks and Nov. 5 in Thief River Falls.

Have a great week!


Upcoming College Events

Monday, October 20, 2014
·         10:00 am – Why Treaties Matter Exhibit Opening – EGF Front Foyer

·         12:00 am – Why Treaties Matter : Guest Speaker – Jim Jones – EGF 280

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
·         9:00 am – CNA TESTING – TRF Rm 701

Friday, October 24, 2014
·         2:00 pm – Volleyball vs. Hibbing CC

Saturday, October 25, 2014
·         12:00 pm – Volleyball vs. Rainy River CC

Monday, October 27, 2014
·         5:30 pm – EGF Campus Wide Advisory Meeting – EGF Commons

·         6:00  pm – NCTC Foundation Annual Meeting – TRF Evergreen Eating Emporium

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
·         11:00 AM – Why Treaties Matter : Guest Speaker – Dr. Jack Haymond – EGF 250

·         9:00 PM – Halloween Rock ‘n Bowl – TRF Family Bowl

Thursday, October 30, 2014
·         10:00 am – Why Treaties Matter Exhibit Opening – TRF Art Gallery

10:00 am – Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence: The Role of Community and Culture – TRF Commons
·         7:00 PM – Movie Night — The Purge: Anarchy  – TRF Campus Theater

My Schedule this Week

Monday, Oct. 20 – EGF – Staff Advisory Council, Execuitive Committee

Tuesday, Oct. – TRF – SGC Small Group

Wendesday, Oct.  – EGF

Thursday, Oct. – EGF

Friday, Oct.  – Mentor – Impact 2020 Leadership Retreat

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Weekly Update

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote my last Weekly Update.  During that time, the Northern Plains has had its first hard freeze, we’ve announced the restoration of football at Northland, and I’ve become certified as a “peer reviewer” for Higher Learning Commission accreditation.  We are continuing to help students forge successful futures and to refine and communicate our understanding of budgetary challenges.

Today, I’ll touch briefly on several of these issues:

  • Community Advisory Committees
  • Higher Learning Commission Peer Review Corps
  • “State of the College” Events
  • Northland Athletic Programs
  • Budgetary Process
  • Why Treaties Matter

Community Advisory Committees

We’ve started our academic year with two positive and engaging meetings of the Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks Community Advisory Committees on August 27 and September 23, respectively.  At Northland, we are so fortunate to have great interest in our campuses from our communities.  Together, more than 50 people have been involved in these meetings this fall.

On October 13, a second meeting of the TRF group will be held.  Over the past several months, it has become clear that there is concern about the future of the campus; consequently, we are devoting time and attention to insure that the community has the information it needs.  MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone visited Northland’s campuses on Sept. 29 and 30 as part of the presidential search process and stated “unequivocally” that there is no plan to eliminate either of Northland’s campuses.

This second TRF meeting will concentrate on the factors that continue to challenge the college budget.  A third meeting will be held on October 27 to take input from committee members on budget reduction strategies.  Committee members are committed to understanding challenges and serving as advocates for the college.

Higher Learning Commission Peer Review Corps

In early October, I had the opportunity to be trained and certified as a peer reviewer for HLC accreditation processes.  The HLC has invited retiring presidents to serve in this capacity for two reasons:  current presidents are often too busy to be involved in this important collegial activity and retired presidents have the experience and time to contribute meaningfully to this process.  The training was superb and provided me with a wonderful overview of all of the accreditation and review services offered by the HLC.

“State of the College” Events

For the fifth year, the college is working with The Chamber – Grand Forks & East Grand Forks to present the “State of the College” event on October 16 in the Commons of the East Grand Forks Campus.  This year, the theme of the event is “Your POWERFUL Partner;” it will focus on the contributions the college and its graduates make to the life of the community, regional economic success, and the preparation of the workforce.

A similar event in Thief River Falls will be scheduled and announced shortly.

Northland Athletic Programs

On October 8, I released the decision related to the football program at Northland.  In brief:

Northland Community and Technical College will start today to work toward the restoration of the football program.  We believe that this decision will increase enrollment at the Thief River Falls Campus.  Financial analysis that has been vetted by the Finance Division of the MnSCU System Office indicates that the program will contribute to a modest positive cash flow, if assumptions for enrollment, revenue and expenses are accurate.

It is the college’s intent to field a team for the fall, 2015 season.  This is an ambitious goal that will not move forward unless two crucial conditions are met.  If these conditions cannot be satisfied in the very near future, football will be reinstated for fall, 2016.  The conditions are: 1) the college will immediately commence a search for a head coach who will work during the current year to recruit student athletes for fall, 2015, and 2) an affirmative solution to the acute unavailability of affordable housing in Thief River Falls must be found.

On another note, I want to congratulate the Women’s Volleyball team, coached by Abdul Chamma and Courtney Nordby.  The team is now ranked #4 in the NJCAA National Poll.

Budgetary Process

Over the course of the past several weeks, the Northland administration has shared a packet of information with the faculty, the support staff, and the Cabinet and will now share it with Community Advisory Committees.  This packet summarizes the budgetary challenges that the college still faces.

Four factors have conspired to create a difficult deficit scenario for Northland Community and Technical College as it plans for fiscal year 2016 (FY2016).  These factors are loss of state investment over the past decade which has shifted the majority of college support from state funds to tuition, a tuition freeze enacted by the Minnesota State legislature, compensation increases and inflation, and enrollment declines that have led to decreased tuition revenue.

Why Treaties Matter

Information from minnesotahumanities.org/treaties:

“Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nation” is a nationally recognized, award-winning, traveling exhibit made in partnership with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

More than 46,000 people have engaged with the exhibit in over 30 locations, including: elementary and high schools, colleges, the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Transportation, and the Minnesota state capitol. Today, the exhibit has expanded to include seven educator guides of innovative classroom material as well as an enhanced virtual exhibit.

We are very fortunate to have this exhibit scheduled for Northland’s campuses: Oct. 18-28 in East Grand Forks and Oct. 31-Nov. 9 in Thief River Falls.


Upcoming College Events

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
6:30 pm – Volleyball @ Fond du Lac TCC
Thursday, October 16, 2014
10:00 AM – CNA Testing – EGF Campus
Friday, October 17, 2014
·         3:00 pm – Men’s Basketball @ Scrimmage Central Lakes

·         7:00 pm – Wrestling vs. Legends Dual

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
·         9:00 am – CNA TESTING – TRF Campus Rm 701

·         9:00 am – CNA TESTING – TRF Campus Rm 701

Friday, October 24, 2014
·         2:00 pm – Volleyball vs. Hibbing CC

My Schedule this Week

Monday, Oct. 13 – TRF – Community Advisory Committee

Tuesday, Oct. 14 – TRF

Wendesday, Oct. 15 – EGF

Thursday, Oct. 16 – EGF – State of the College event, Cabinet meeting

Friday, Oct. 17 – TBD

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Weekly Update

This week’s column is written by Dr. Stephen Nelson, philosophy instructor at the Thief River Falls campus. He has been a part of the Academic Master Planning process since its beginning in January 2014 and is providing an update on our progress.

NCTC’s Academic Master Plan Progress

By December of this year, Northland Community & Technical College intends to have an Academic Master Plan (AMP) in place. The AMP will lay out a vision of where NCTC wants to be by the year 2020 with respect to academic programs and all the various elements of the college that support academics.

The AMP project began last spring with a steering committee that developed the overall structure and focus of the plan. The AMP Steering Committee articulated key values that are central to the mission and vision of NCTC, and through these values, it identified three central goal areas for the college. In the next few months, the expanded AMP Committee (composed of a variety of faculty, staff, and administrators, from both campuses) will be writing the plan, articulating a host of specific, measureable goals within the three central goal areas.

Goal Area One, “Quality Education and Student Success”, includes goals towards improving NCTC’s programs and curricula, enhancing professional development programs for faculty and staff, and furthering the college’s commitment to support students and help them meet their academic goals.

Goal Area Two, “Internal Community and Student Life”, includes goals that center on the campus community, both of NCTC in general and of its multiple individual locations. Goals in this area range from student-centered (activities, athletics, student needs) to utilitarian (facilities, fiscal responsibilities).

Goal Area Three, “External Community”, includes goals that look outward, toward the communities to which NCTC belongs. These goals focus on enhancing partnerships with local businesses and industry as well as enriching relationships with community groups and members. Since the AMP sets a vision for 2020, this goal area will be particularly sensitive to potential changes in community needs.

In planning for the AMP, the primary value that kept coming up was the importance of providing a Quality Education, which the committee considers to be the key theme of the plan. This theme encompasses many different interpretations of what exactly counts as “quality” when it comes to education; some may focus on getting a good value for their tuition, others may focus on being able to choose from a diverse group of programs and classes to choose from, and still others may focus on feeling supported and encouraged throughout the process. All of these perspectives (and many more) are considered by the diverse AMP Committee while putting together this plan.

Another common theme that permeates the AMP is the notion that as a public community and technical college, NCTC plays a vital role in its surrounding communities. The college is a public service that enriches the communities, teaches necessary skills for businesses and industry, and helps students of all ages achieve their goals. To provide an excellent public service, the college listens to the community while also taking initiative to lead and innovate. The AMP goals will reflect these commitments, and in this spirit, it should also be noted that the AMP process is quite open and welcoming of suggestions and feedback (see the AMP website for more at http://www.northlandcollege.edu/amp/).

After completing the AMP in December, NCTC intends to make use of the document in several different ways. The specific goals articulated in the AMP will include timelines for completion, as well as recommendations about implementation strategies and success metrics. Also, NCTC will use the AMP as a cornerstone around which to do other significant planning, such as updating the college’s Strategic Plan and Facilities Plan. There may be tight budgets, stiff competition, and other competing interests, but by anchoring other planning around the Academic Master Plan, NCTC will retain its commitment to academics as the central focus of a college.


Upcoming College Events

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
·         9:00 AM – Minnesota Education Fair – TRF Gym

·         12:00 pm – Hispanic Heritage Month: Tres Vidas – TRF Theater

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
6:30 pm – Volleyball vs. Itasca CC
Friday, October 3, 2014
6:30 pm – Volleyball @ Mesabi Range CC
Saturday, October 4, 2014
12:00 pm – Volleyball @ Vermilion CC
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
·         11:00 AM – Nursing Club Annual Blood Drive – TRF Gunderson Commons

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
·         6:30 pm – Volleyball @ Central Lake

Saturday, October 11, 2014
·         10:30 am – Volleyball vs. Alumni Games

My Schedule this Week

Monday, Sept. 29 – EGF, Lunch with Chancellor Rosenstone

Tuesday, Sept. 30 – EGF, Drive to MSP,

Wendesday, Oct. 1 – Chicago – HLC Training

Thursday, Oct. 2 – Chicago – HLC Training

Friday, Oct. 3 – Chicago – HLC Training

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Weekly Update

I so enjoyed being outside this past weekend.  The first color changes of fall are emerging along the river.  We saw five eagles soaring very high, appearing to just be enjoying flight and the air currents.  It’s probably time to pull up all of the summer flowers, but I decided to give them at least one more week.

So far this fall, we have been concentrating on many things.  As soon as we start one year, we begin planning for the next one.  I want to bring you all up to date on several things:

  • Consultations
  • Mandatory Staff Training
  • Aerospace Capital Project

Consultations

The administration has met formally with several groups to provide opportunities for input and to consult these groups regarding important issues for the college.  The groups include the two student senates at our two campuses, the faculty Shared Governance Council, the Support Staff Advisory Council, the President’s Cabinet (all supervisors), and the two community advisory committees.  It has been gratifying to see the interest and attention of these groups to the issues at hand.

The first issue we have discussed are the challenges of finance and enrollment.  There are four major forces that are putting pressure on Northland’s resources:  state allocation declines, a state-wide tuition freeze, inflation and compensation increases, and enrollment declines.  We are committed to informing the groups we consult with as we plan for the next year’s budget.

We have also talked about the opportunities ahead.  Northland has been very active in applying for grant funds, increasing efficiencies, managing our finances rigorously, and looking for areas to grow.  The Academic Master Plan that is being developed this fall will guide our actions into the future.

We are also consulting with all of these groups on the issue of the restoration of football as an athletic offering.  We have provided the recommendations of the college/community group that worked through the summer to examine the issues that led to the suspension. Most of the groups have provided their input and recommendations.

We have really appreciated the active engagement of all of these groups.  It seems that our college communities – both internal and external – are truly committed to supporting the college and planning for a sustainable future.

Mandatory Staff Training

As a MnSCU institution and as an institution that is eligible for federal financial aid, Northland must assure that its faculty members and other employees are adequately trained for constant and emerging demands of their positions.  At Northland, we are very fortunate to have Julie Fenning serving as our Safety and Training Officer.  She has provided great organization to the training system.

Over the course of the year, several training modules are provided online.  Employees are provided with access information and timelines for completion.  There is a profile for each employee which details the training that is appropriate and required for that position.

Right now, all employees are completing “Employee Right to Know” training that provides information on safety issues.  Additionally, in accord with new federal regulations, all employees and new students are required to have training on sexual violence, harassment, and creating positive environments to decrease the incidents of these behaviors.  Some employees must have training on dealing with blood-borne pathogens, workplace ergonomics, or handling special hazards.

Aerospace Capital Project

I mentioned in an earlier update that the capital project that has been approved for the TRF Aerospace site has been delayed because initial bids came in much higher than the funds available.  In the past couple of months, Northland personnel have been working closely with architects to rescale the project and prepare for letting the project out for bids in the fall.

We are hopeful that a fall bid schedule will be more favorable to a successful bid.  This project will provide connectivity between the classroom building and the Swenson Hangar and will replace obsolete hangar and lab space with technologically modern and secure space appropriate to the new technology that is taught in this facility.

I hope you all have a great week!


Upcoming College Events

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
·         5:00 PM – CNA Class #66- Hybrid – EGF Campus

Saturday, September 27, 2014
·         10:00 am – Volleyball @ Mesabi Range CC

·         11:00 am – Volleyball @ Gogebic

·         1:00 pm – Volleyball @ Vermilion CC

·         12:00 pm – Volleyball @ Itasca CC

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
2:00 am – Hispanic Heritage Month: Tres Vidas – TRF Campus Theater
·         9:00 AM – noon – Minnesota Education Fair – TRF Gym
My Schedule This Week

Monday, Sept. 22 – EGF – UND guest lecture

Tuesday, Sept. 23 – EGF – Community Advisory Committee, Perham – Ag COE mtg

Wednesday, Sept. 24 – Bemidji – NW Coop Mtg

Thursday, Sept. 25 – EGF – Altru Corporate mtg

Friday, Sept. 26 – EGF Support Staff In-Service

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Weekly Update

As always, there are exciting things happening at Northland! This week, I’ll highlight:

  • 3-D Printers
  • NECA Donation to Construction Electricity Program
  • Northland UAS Grads Placed Internationally
  • Minnesota Education Fair
  • MnSCU Leadership Council Retreat


3-D Printers
– I ran into Andrew Dahlen in the hallway in Thief River Falls last week and he was full of excitement about the new technology he had just installed into his electronics lab.  Two 3-D printers have been received by Northland through its partnership with 360° Center of Excellence in Manufacturing Technology.  Students had already begun producing items by programming the printers to deliver precise amounts of plastic to build up the three-dimensional objects.  It is a fascinating process!

Andrew is Northland’s nominee for the MnSCU Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2015.  As the year progresses, he will develop a portfolio that demonstrates his teaching prowess and other activities that make him stand out as an excellent instructor.


NECA Donation to Construction Electricity Program
– The Dakotas Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) presented the Northland Community and Technical College Foundation with a check for $25,000 to benefit the Construction Electricity program. Dakotas Chapter NECA has 40 members; it is the collective effort of each of the members that made this donation possible.  Ed Christian, Dakotas Chapter NECA Executive Director stated, “We look forward to employing, through the NECA Contractors, our future industry leaders presently enrolled in the Construction Electricity program at Northland. The opportunities for program graduates within the Dakotas and western Minnesota area will allow them numerous choices for a successful future.”


Northland UAS Grads Placed Internationally
– We got a great note from Bruce Jinneman, HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) Enterprise Manager at Northrop Grumman.  He was reporting on five recent Northland graduates from the Unmanned Aerial Systems maintenance program.  Ryan Sternisha, Eric Anderson, Adam Smith, and Mike Kjensrud will be working at the NG maintenance base in Guam.  Josh Konakowitz has accepted an offer to work for NG in Sigonella, Italy.

Mr. Jinneman wrote, “Looks like Guam is being taken over by NCTC graduates!  Thanks again for producing such high caliber graduates.  It certainly makes my job easier when trying to fill openings.”


Minnesota Education Fair
– Northland will host the Minnesota Education Fair on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at Northland’s Thief River Falls campus gymnasium. The education fair provides students and parents an opportunity to explore a variety of options for continued education, technical training, or military service after high school.  Representatives from over 60 educational institutions from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Manitoba will be available to answer questions and provide important information for post-high school planning.

The fair is sponsored by the Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling (MACAC), which also hosts the National College Fair each fall in Minneapolis, Minn. The fair is open to high school students, transfer students, parents, and those interested in continuing their education.


MnSCU Leadership Council Retreat
–  I spent two full days in a MnSCU Leadership retreat last Monday and Tuesday.  The Leadership Council is comprised of the MnSCU college and university presidents and the Chancellor’s cabinet members.  It meets monthly throughout the year.  There were many sobering topics of conversation.  All of MnSCU’s colleges and universities are concerned about enrollment.  Analysis at the state level indicates that enrollment is closely tied to volatility in employment rates.  As employment improves in the state, fewer students are choosing to enroll.  Additionally, concern over rising student loan indebtedness appears to be driving more students to part-time status while they continue to work.

Although official enrollment statistics for fall term will not be available until the 30th day of the semester, Northland’s proximity to the robust economy of North Dakota and NW Minnesota certainly affects our enrollment.  Weekend articles in the media indicate real growth in enrollment at regional elementary schools; but, it will be some years before those students will be ready for higher education.

MnSCU’s biennial request to the Minnesota legislature was also discussed in detail.  The MnSCU Board of Trustees will be meeting in the next week and will finalize the request.

I hope you all have a great week!

Upcoming College Events

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
12:00 PM – Anonymous People – DVD and Discussion – TRF Campus Theater
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
·         12:00 pm – Hispanic Heritage Month: Tres Vidas – EGF Campus Commons

Thursday, September 18, 2014
·         10:00 AM – CNA Testing – EGF Campus

Friday, September 19, 2014
·         6:30 pm – Volleyball @ Rainy River CC

Saturday, September 20, 2014
·         12:00 pm – Volleyball @ Hibbing CC

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
·         5:00 PM – CNA Class #66- Hybrid – EGF Campus

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
·         6:30 pm – Volleyball vs. Fond du Lac TCC
My Schedule This Week

Monday, Sept. 15 – TRF – Multi- Events Center Board mtg, Staff Advisory Council, Capital Project mtg

Tuesday, Sept. 16 – TRF – Exec. Comm, TRF Advisory Committee Exec Group

Wednesday, Sept. 17 – EGF, NW MN superintendents’ mtg, Red Lake Falls

Thursday, Sept. 18 – EGF – morning, TRF afternoon – Cabinet mtg, Open House for new TRF Hospital

Friday, Sept. 19 – Vacation

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Weekly Update

Well, it was a busy first week of fall semester at Northland’s campuses! Students continued to enroll throughout the week and many classes and programs were filled to capacity. We’re still anticipating registrations from Farm Business Management – so, our enrollment projections are still not firm.

State-wide, enrollment at MnSCU colleges and universities has dropped. In our region, where so many jobs are available, there is stiff competition for the time and attention of prospective students. One clear trend is that many more students are enrolling part-time rather than full-time. This may indicate that many students have jobs while they are in college. We will continue to watch enrollment trends carefully.

This week, I will highlight the following:

  • Fall Scholarship Ceremonies
  • Pennies for Part-timers
  • Northland Loses Long-time Friends
  • TRF Advisory Committee
  • Football Consultations

Fall Scholarship Ceremonies

The NCTC Foundation will distribute scholarships this week. The ceremonies are scheduled at noon to encourage attendance of faculty members and supportive students. The Foundation is a steady friend of Northland’s students. Annually, around $150,000 in scholarships is distributed. The Thief River Falls Campus ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 2 at in the Gunderson Commons. The East Grand Forks Campus ceremony will be held Thursday, Sept. 4, in the Commons.

Pennies for Part-timers

In other great scholarship news, Art faculty member John Leopold renewed the “Pennies for Part-timers” bike trip across northern Minnesota. John organized and accompanied ten riders – students and alumni – who raised contributions that recognized their efforts in riding 262 miles from East Grand Forks to Duluth in June. Several other college staff contributed personal time and support, including training, driving, cooking, and donating. In all, over $6,000 was raised to support students.

Northland Loses Long-time Friends

During the past couple of months, Northland has lost a couple of long-time friends. Just last week, the “Voice of the Northland Pioneers,” Don Jorstad, passed away. Don worked in radio and television for many years, was active in many NW Minnesota sports and service organizations. The last time I saw Don was at the community welcome for the National Championship Women’s Basketball team last spring. His distinctive voice boomed out through the Northland Gym – a great welcome for well-deserving athletes. Don will certainly be missed.

Roger Peterson, an instructor of electronics and computers at Northland for thirty-six years, died in June. Although Roger retired from full-time teaching in 2006, he remained active as an instructor in Digi-Key University, a collaborative program between Northland and Digi-Key, in which incumbent workers receive additional targeted training. Even though his health prevented continuing in teaching, Roger still often attended the celebrations of Digi-Key graduates. He was a wonderful, kind man.

TRF Advisory Committee

A great group of about 35 community members gathered together with college personnel for the first Community Advisory Committee meeting of the year in Thief River Falls. A similar meeting will be held in East Grand Forks in late September.

This meeting concentrated on reforming the group and recommitting to communication and support. We invited representatives of many organizations, governmental entities, businesses, and schools to join us in planning the future of the campus. This coincides well with the Academic Master Planning process that is going on in the college this fall. Advisory group members were asked the following questions:
• What are your expectations as a member of this group?
• What about Northland is important to you personally or to your business/industry?
• What about Northland is important to the Thief River Falls Community?
• We are facing difficult enrollment and economic challenges. How do you think the college can best communicate difficult decisions with the community?

The group will meet again in September to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the college and to provide input for decisions. A member of this group will also represent the community in the presidential search advisory group.

Football Consultations

During the summer a Project Action Team, composed of community members, college faculty members, students, and college staff met to examine the factors that contributed to the suspension of the football program at the time that the former head coach resigned in December, 2013. After six in-depth meetings where such issues as housing, Title IX compliance, and community support were discussed, a set of recommendations was developed and delivered to me in late August.

Because many of the recommendations contained in the document have implications for employee time, general funds, or student life funds, they will be discussed with several governance groups within the college community. I have already met with Northland’s head coaches and will have scheduled the following consultations that will lead to a final decision about the restoration of the football program by the end of September:

• Student Senates – as soon as they are organized for the year
• Faculty Shared Governance Council – Sept. 10
• Northland Cabinet – Sept. 18

I really appreciate the time and thoughtful consideration given to the many complex issues by the members of the Project Action Team.


Upcoming College Events

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
• 3:00 PM – Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter – TRF 605
• 6:30 pm – Volleyball @ Itasca CC
Thursday, September 4, 2014
• 12:00 PM – Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter – TRF 605
Friday, September 5, 2014
• 6:00 pm – Volleyball vs. Dakota College of Bottineau – TRF Gym
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
• 3:00 PM – Understanding How to Budget Your Money – TRF 605
• 6:30 pm – Volleyball vs. Central Lake – TRF Gym

My Schedule This Week

Monday, Sept. 1 – Labor Day Holiday
Tuesday, Sept. 2 – TRF – Fall Scholarship Ceremony
Wednesday, Sept. 3 – EGF – Student Senate Rep Meeting
Thursday, Sept. 4 – EGF – Fall Scholarship Ceremony
Friday, Sept. 5 – EGF – Exec Comm

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