JUST A FEW YEARS AGO, TWO-year public colleges had the option of becoming entrepreneurial institutions. No longer. Eroding state support combined with increasing enrollments and demand for greater accountability have forced these schools to seek alternative funding sources and use innovative technologies to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, all while providing greater value to their students and other constituents. My institution, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, is no different.
When I first came to the Winona campus 25 years ago, it was a much different institution. It was known then as Winona Technical Institute, and its mission was to provide local students with the workforce skills to fill local jobs. Over the years, my role within the college has changed, just as the institution has evolved. Along the way, we consolidated with Red Wing Technical College in 1992.
I assumed the presidency of the college in 1995, when we were just entering into Minnesota's "mega merger," in which all public two-year community colleges, technical colleges, and universities were merged into one system of governance. This system is called Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
The 1995 merger has made for an interesting transformation. I think what the merger has done for technical colleges in Minnesota is raise our perceived …