Starting this fall, Dakota County Technical College (DCTC) and Inver Hills Community College (IHCC) will commemorate 50 years of providing higher education in Minnesota. As we reflect on our history, I am reminded of the special role that community and technical colleges play in higher education.
I participate in many community conversations, and increasingly I hear leaders express the need to create more equitable and inclusive organizations and communities. We will never be less diverse than we are today, and that is why these conversations, and this work, are so important. At Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College, we have been working on equity and inclusion for several years, but we too recognize the need to intensify our efforts.
A new year often inspires us to set goals for personal improvement — in my case, to spend more time outdoors and less time in front of a computer. For others, the goal is more ambitious — to improve their job prospects or transition to a new career. At Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College, we support many adults who have returned to school for a fresh start. Coming back to school can be intimidating, but it can also change the direction of your life.
We all know that the holidays can be stressful. Winter travel, family responsibilities, holiday preparations, short days and long nights can leave us feeling a bit overwhelmed. College students, including students at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College, have the additional stress of completing their courses and getting ready for next term. This time of year hits some of our learners especially hard because they are already dealing with insecurities in food, housing, clothing, child care and transportation.
Workforce development is a critical issue in Minnesota and in our region. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota had over 82,000 job vacancies in the second quarter of 2018; that is 8,200 more than reported this time last year. At Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College, I see the critical role of two-year colleges in promoting economic development through close partnerships with employers and other community agencies.
Civic engagement is an essential part of the college experience. As interim president, I am proud of the engagement students at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College have shown. As Election Day approaches, our student senates are leading Get Out the Vote efforts to encourage students to vote Nov. 6.
At Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College, the new school year has begun. As interim president, I am excited to see the many transformations that will happen for students throughout the academic year. At DCTC and Inver Hills, we are committed to helping students realize the most from their education. Alumni Matthew Repke represents the manifestation of that mission well. Matthew, an Apple Valley resident, sought a college education at Inver Hills after working for 10 years post high school. He chose to study biology.