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MnSCU trustee visits Minnesota West

ana anthony/daily globe Trustee James Van Houten (left) and Minnesota West President Richard Shrubb at the Worthington campus Tuesday before the tour.

WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College welcomed a special guest Tuesday. Trustee James Van Houten from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) made his first trip to Minnesota West to see what the college had to offer to communities around rural Minnesota.

A 15-member Board of Trustees governs the 31 state higher education institutions. The board is responsible for "system planning, academic programs, fiscal management, personnel, admissions requirements, tuition and fees, and rules and regulations."

"I've been on the board for five years and this is a campus I've not been to," said Van Houten who is chair of the MnSCU audit committee.

His visit started early Tuesday morning with a meeting with Minnesota West President Richard Shrubb. Following their meeting, Van Houten was accompanied by Worthington campus dean Dawn Gordon for a tour of the Worthington campus.

"One thing that is really special about this college to MnSCU is that it effectively carries out the model of rural campuses orientating themselves toward regional needs," he explained. "The online education program education is very cutting edge and I wanted to see those things and get a feel for it."

In addition to the tour, Van Houten was able to visit the recently built Worthington Area YMCA -- the result of a land lease agreement between the MnSCU Board of Trustees and the YMCA for the facility to be constructed on campus grounds.

"The impact of the campus being part of the community is a really special benefit," he said. "This is as nice as any other 'Y' I've seen in the country."

Gordon stressed that having the YMCA located on campus is indeed a benefit for Minnesota West.

"About 60 percent or more of the students in school are of diverse populations," Gordon told Van Houten about student demographics in Worthington School District 518. "The Y is a great way for us to reach out to these populations."

Van Houten and Shrubb will visit three other Minnesota West campuses -- Pipestone, Canby and Granite Falls, and a fourth location -- Minnesota West Luverne Educational Center for Health Careers.

"Having a trustee visit means that they (Board of Trustees) are paying attention to education in rural Minnesota," Gordon stated. "We enjoyed giving him a picture of the needs of our community and our students."