Five northeastern Minnesota colleges merge

Minnesota State

Today the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved the merger of five northeastern Minnesota community and technical colleges. The colleges include Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College and Vermilion Community College. The new college will be called Minnesota North College with campuses in Ely, Eveleth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, International Falls and Virginia.

Many of you know that I teach at Hibbing Community College and now join the much larger faculty of Minnesota North. For many of us and especially our students, not too much will change. For instance, I remain in the same office at the Hibbing campus and will teach the same classes. Courses and technical training will be available in all six of these communities just as before.

This decision has been in the works for two years. It’s no easy task to take five independent colleges with unique systems of organization, governance, and process and turn them into one unified college. Indeed, that work is not yet done. I’ve been intimately involved in this process and that’s one of the reasons, along with my book, that I’ve had to dramatically slow my news reporting here at MinnesotaBrown.

Over the years we’ve watched independent school districts merge across northern Minnesota and rural America at large. Though never popular, these mergers become necessary to keep quality public education available to every child. And just as these local K-12 schools have struggled, so have our colleges in maintaining enrollment amid changing times and declining local school enrollments. But it’s just as important, arguably more important, that we continue to provide advanced career training and a liberal arts education to all who want it. This was the true miracle of the local junior college movement, which began in North Hibbing in 1916 with one of the state’s very first two year junior colleges.

This merger, imperfect thought it may be, will allow the college to better serve the whole region into the future. For example, any student who enrolls in Minnesota North will have the opportunity to take classes at any of the six campuses or online. This opens up the door for many unique opportunities, especially for students who live somewhat near two or more campuses. It will also allow the college to explore new programs or services that might not be viable at one small college but might be in a regional model.

The new college officially launches this summer. A much bigger roll-out of new signs and materials will happen next fall.

Anyway, it’s big news in my world and so I’m sharing it with you. There will be more to come.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.