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Shrubb begins duties at college

WORTHINGTON -- The new president of Minnesota West Community and Technical College will not have a parking place reserved for him on any campus -- and that is exactly the way he wants it.

Richard Shrubb, who officially began as Minnesota West's president July 1, has a collaborative leadership style and believes in lifelong learning and healthy living.

"The college is going well," Shrubb said. "(Former president Ron Wood) left it up and running and going well. Ron was just a great president to follow."

Shrubb praised Wood's leadership and financial savvy, noting how good it was to begin as president in a school with no problems requiring immediate attention and "nothing here that I have to jump on right away."

Despite having a positive outlook on the college's current situation, Shrubb sees several areas for improvement.

He will continue efforts to unite the eight Minnesota West locations as a single college.

Although his first day as president was spent at a conference in St. Paul, Shrubb visited Minnesota West campuses in Granite Falls, Canby, Pipestone and Jackson before he went to Worthington. He hopes to continue spending equal amounts of time at all the campuses, although that may not be possible.

"I feel very strongly that we need to be one college in all campuses equally," Shrubb said.

He is also concerned that enrollment demographics do not align with the demographics of the community.

"I want to recruit more of the Hispanic community here," Shrubb said.

Whether it's the school system or a lack of awareness, Shrubb hopes to get the Minnesota West word out to everyone in Minnesota West's service area -- 16,000 square miles.

"Higher education really is about community outreach now as much as it is about job training," Shrubb said.

He also wants to re-examine the college's programs and ensure that all students can graduate with 60 credit hours -- so that people can finish a two-year degree in two years. Different programs currently have different credit hour requirements, some more than 60.

Another upcoming issue for Minnesota West is its accreditation status with the Higher Learning Commission. Simply being successfully accredited isn't enough for Shrubb, who wants to "blow that accreditation visit out of the water" and show that Minnesota West is an "exemplary school."

Shrubb is enjoying his time in Worthington so far.

"People have been very welcoming," Shrubb said. "We feel like the relationships are going to be strong."