Eight months after a name change and new slogan, Optivation is preparing for yet another change.
Optivation, formerly the Center for Research and Innovation/Custom College, will relocate to Bridgeman Hall on the Bemidji State University campus this summer. It will become part of the College of Business, Technology and Communication.
Optivation, an off-campus, for-profit center operated jointly by BSU and Northwest Technical College, offers help to people in the areas of business, technology and marketing. The center also provides programming support for the Natural Resources Continuing Education Consortium, Northern Minnesota Safety Council, Adventures of Lifelong Learning, Regional Employer Support Network and Brown Bag Lunch Series.
Optivation currently has two locations. The north branch is located at 3801 Bemidji Ave. N. The south office is located in the main entrance at NTC, 905 Grant Ave. S.E.
Once relocated to BSU, Optivation will coexist in a consortium of centers within the College of Business. The college currently offers 360 Degrees-Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence, the Center for Career and Technical Education, the Marketing Assistance and Research Solutions Center and the Northwest Small Business Development Center.
During a question-and-answer session Tuesday following an Adventures in Lifelong Learning lecture, Richard Hanson, president of BSU and NTC, fielded questions about budget cuts and the future of Optivation.
"A lot of grant support for Optivation is in serious jeopardy in St. Paul," Hanson said. "Everything in the state budget is being looked at real closely. The vast majority of our budget at Optivation comes from two or three very large grants from the state."
BSU's Adventures in Lifelong Learning, formerly known as the Academy of Lifelong Learning, provides opportunities for continuing education in the Bemidji area. The program is housed within Optivation.
While the future of funding sources for Optivation appears uncertain, Hanson appeared optimistic that BSU's Adventures in Lifelong Learning would continue to operate.
"There is a need for these kinds of things. What we need to have are people saying 'We have to continue this,'" Hanson said.
"If we keep pushing it will happen in one form or another. I'm a fan, and I want to help. We'll find a way."
James Maxwell, dean of the College of Business, said Optivation was relocated because it provides outreach services with businesses in the community, region and state. The College's 360 Degrees, for example, provides similar services to Optivation, but participants can earn a certificate for credit.
"I think it is a very good move for both sides," Maxwell said. "Instead of being an island out there, it brings in business planning and provides efficiencies we didn't have before."
Optivation was one of many entities affected by the recalibration plan unveiled by Hanson earlier this year as way to balance the university and college's budget. While not all faculty members were pleased with the budget cuts, as several staffing positions and several programs were cut, Maxwell said the recalibration effort at BSU and NTC has opened some doors for the College of Business.
"The bottom line is that state appropriation is going down," Maxwell said. "I'm taking a different approach. We have to go through enrollment. We have to figure out how we can participate in online profits to continue to grow and add faculty."
According to Maxwell, the two positions to be added to the business program through the recalibration plan are funded by profits from extended learning, or online class, revenue. This money is also used by all four colleges to help with operational costs.
"I realize (the recalibration) affects people in the community and faculty, but I think it was long overdue that we needed to do something," Maxwell said. "I think the president has made good choices and the university to take us down the 21st century where we need to be."
Maxwell is hoping to unveil a new line of degrees in spring 2012, such as biomedical technology and energy management and a master's in technology management. Currently many of the college's programs are offered online. The Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, specifically, is offered totally online.
"I'm like a kid in the candy shop," he added. "These are great opportunities."