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Task force to look at ‘new future’ for NTC; Group will study all aspects of college

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BEMIDJI — A task force has been formed to imagine a “new future” for Northwest Technical College in Bemidji.

Dr. Richard Hanson, president of Bemidji State University and NTC, convened the 10-person Reinvention Task Force, which will make recommendations about the school’s academic mission, including all programs, as well the use of its physical facilities.

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The task force is comprised of NTC faculty, staff and administrators and a student representative.

Bill Maki, vice president for finance and administration for BSU and NTC, will chair the task force. The task force will meet as a working group, and will also seek input from regional employers, community stakeholders and higher education experts, according to a press release.

School officials anticipate the task force will recommend changes to some program offerings, as well as personnel levels, but details will not be released until the task force delivers its recommendations to Hanson in the spring, according to the release.

The task force will consider all aspects of NTC, said Scott Faust, director of communications and marketing for BSU and NTC.

“Rather than just say ‘What should we add or subtract?’ let’s start from the ground up,” Faust said in an interview. “If we were essentially going to create NTC from scratch tomorrow, what would it be.”

The plan calls for draft recommendations to be completed by April, before setting NTC’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

BSU and NTC began aligning programs and services several years ago and both are part of the Minnesota State College and University System.

Enrollment at NTC has declined by about a 5.6 percent annual average since 2010, from 943 to 783 students in fiscal year 2013, with a projected 4.2 percent decline this school year. With state funding for higher education being reduced in recent years, which puts an increased reliance on tuition for revenue, the continued “loss of students creates an unsustainable financial situation for the college,” according to a press release.

“The stakes are very high, not only for the college but also for its employees,” Hanson said in the release. “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.”

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