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NTC 2023: Technical college leaders working on a new strategic plan

Darrin Strosahl, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northwest Technical College, speaks Monday at the beginning of the public forum on strategic planning for the school. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 3
Faith Hensrud, Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College President, introduces the public forum for strategic planning at NTC on Monday at the school. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 3
About 50 people attended a public forum to discuss strategic planning for the future of Northwest Technical College on Monday at the school. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 3

BEMIDJI—Darrin Strosahl, new vice president of academic affairs at Northwest Technical College, gestured to a row of placards depicting the college's range of curricula: nursing, automotive service, and so on.

"We have to figure out: are these the right programs?" Strosahl said. That question, which he posed at a conference for high school counselors last week, will be one of many NTC administrators hope to answer as they work on a new iteration of the school's strategic plan for 2018-2023. "Are these really aligned to the employment that fits this region? We're a public institution, so we should be serving our region."

At a Monday public forum to discuss the strategic plan, attendees from a variety of Bemidji-area businesses and Bemidji Area Schools in turn characterized the tech school as a great asset for area businesses that could still do more.

Warren Larson, Sanford Health's director of public affairs, said NTC's healthcare programming is one of its strengths, but that he'd like to see it grow more and enroll even more students.

Several attendees said they hope the school stays abreast of changing job market needs and industry tech. Others warned that technical jobs could be increasingly important as Baby Boomers retire out of the workforce.

About 50 people attended a public forum to discuss strategic planning for the future of Northwest Technical College on Monday.

NTC leaders will use the opinions collected at Monday's forum to inform their new strategic plan.

"We're looking for the things that are are gonna make the biggest impact," Faith Hensrud, president of the college and Bemidji State University, said. Hensrud said the school's state-provided resources are "declining" and that staff there are working to enroll more students to compensate. "So we really are looking at ways we can attract more students, graduate them, and then ultimately populate your businesses."

Strosahl and Hensrud toured a series of area businesses and asked what each needs from the tech school. They plan to tour several more.

"We are this community's technical college," Hensrud said. "We want to be able to meet your need."

Administrators at BSU, meanwhile, are putting the finishing touches on a strategic plan for that school. A draft of the plan there calls for a more diverse student body and staff, plus a greater emphasis on "themes of place" that reflect the university's location, culture, and so on.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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