Dr. Richard A. Hanson, president of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, has convened a Reinvention Task Force of faculty, staff, administrators and students to explore and identify a new future for Northwest Technical College.
This task force will fundamentally re-examine what the college should be in terms of its educational mission, the array of its academic programs and the use of its facilities.
“Our expectations for transformation are so high that we are calling it a reinvention of the college,” Hanson said. “We intend to make strategic and substantial improvements in both our academic programs and community partnerships in order to much better meet the needs of our constituents and much better connect NTC to the region.”
Since 2010, enrollment at Northwest Technical College has been steadily declining, with an average annual drop in full-year equivalent enrollment of approximately 5.6 percent — from 943 in fiscal year 2010 to 783 in fiscal year 2013, with a 4.2-percent decline projected for fiscal year 2014. During a time when state funding for higher education has fallen dramatically, leading to an increased reliance on student tuition as a primary source of revenue, the continual loss of students creates an unsustainable financial situation for the college.
Rather than exploring a series of small fixes to incrementally address the decline, President Hanson is calling for a complete re-imagination of what the college is and what services it provides.
The Reinvention Task Force is chaired by Bill Maki, vice president for finance and administration. In addition to Maki, the task force includes 10 members chosen from NTC’s faculty, staff and administration with one student representative. Members were selected to provide an array of perspectives and expertise in a group small enough to be manageable and nimble.
Between now and spring, the task force will assess Northwest Technical College’s strengths and weaknesses, listen to regional employers and community stakeholders, and consult with higher education experts regarding ways the college can become a regional center for exciting and strategically important programs and services.
Then, it will recommend to Hanson a plan for ensuring that Northwest Technical College remains highly attractive as an educational institution and highly relevant as a training institution.
The task force’s work plan calls for draft recommendations to be completed by April. The president’s timeline is aggressive, in part to create a sustainable structure for the college for fiscal year 2015 —which begins on July 1, 2014.
It is anticipated that the task force will recommend changes to the college’s program offerings and personnel levels, although specific details will not be available until the task force delivers its recommendations to the president this spring.
“The stakes are very high, not only for the college but also for its employees,” Hanson said. “Whatever is done will be the result of deep study and careful consideration, but with the highest priority on what is best for the future of the college.
“Our commitment to the future is simple. The institution known as Northwest Technical College will maintain a strong and independent identity. It will have a healthy and sustainable financial model grounded in educational relevance. And it will meet the changing needs of students of all ages while preparing graduates who are ready to contribute to northern Minnesota’s economy.”
• Scott Faust, director of communications and marketing; (218) 755-2041
About Northwest Technical College
Northwest Technical College, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, is an open, inviting technological learning organization. For more than 40 years, the college has valued life-long learning and the worth and dignity of all people. Its open-enrollment policy, affordable tuition and high-quality education have attracted a diverse group of learners; today, the College serves more than 1,200 learners. The college offers more than 40 degree programs in areas such as business, health, human and protective services and environmental and industrial technology career programs. Classes are offered on the Bemidji campus, online, or as a combination of both. NTC is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. For more, visit ntcmn.edu.