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Minnesota West starts classes today

WORTHINGTON -- College commences today in Worthington, with roughly 2,000 full- and part-time students sliding into their seats or logging into online classes at Minnesota West Community and Technical College (MWCTC).

WORTHINGTON -- College commences today in Worthington, with roughly 2,000 full- and part-time students sliding into their seats or logging into online classes at Minnesota West Community and Technical College (MWCTC).

“Enrollment is slightly up, and when you take into account all the customized training and PSEO classes offered, we’re serving close to 10,000 people among Minnesota West’s five campuses and two education centers,” noted Dan Roos, interim dean of the school’s Worthington campus.

Five orientation days were offered to new students during the summer months.

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“The last one was Thursday,” said Roos. “This past week has been crazy busy, but we’re hoping our enrollment will reflect some good numbers.”

Tuesday marks the campus’ annual “Getting Connected” day.

“We invite community businesses and organizations to introduce themselves to the students,” said Roos, sharing that the event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the MWCTC Commons and surrounding hallways.

Besides welcoming several first-time adjunct instructors on board this fall, MWCTC has a few new instructors among its ranks, Roos mentioned.

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“Kris Babler is the head men’s club soccer and basketball coach, and he’ll also teach some classes,” noted Roos.

“John Gossum is coaching the women’s club soccer team and teaching, and Mike Cumiskey, who helped set up our law enforcement course many years ago and is Worthington’s former director of public safety, will now be teaching in that department.”

Additionally, long-time MWCTC staff member Angie Hoffman will begin teaching administrative assistant classes after serving many years as an administrative assistant.

Following remodeling efforts at MWCTC’s Center for Career Education (located at the former Worthington fire hall), a new mechatronics program will be offered for the first time this fall, with instructor Ty Bowen at the helm.

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“Mechatronics is a combination of several technical skills, including fluid power and robotics, that industry partners have asked us to help teach,” explained Roos.

“Several area employers and industries are sending workers back to school for this type of training, so we’re now offering mechatronics both in Worthington and at Granite Falls,” he continued.

With a mix of online lectures and late-in-the-day labs, the mechatronics program is more accessible to already-employed workers who need a flexible education schedule to participate, Roos said.

Although MWCTC’s men’s and women’s club soccer teams are new additions to the college’s sports scene, Roos believes they will prove a draw for the region’s diverse students and grow as the school year begins.

“With any luck, we hope to make soccer a varsity sport here eventually,” said Roos.

“I think it’s the right thing to do, especially with our local demographic composition, and the city has been very cooperative in supporting this effort.

And next Monday, a major MWCTC “first” will occur.

“On Aug. 29 we will release to the public an RFP [request for proposal] for housing on our campus,” revealed Roos.

“We’re looking for a project that will include 100 to 120 student beds to be built on the campus, with a Nov. 1 proposal deadline.”

A mid-September, pre-proposal meeting will be scheduled, offering a campus tour and question-and-answer period, among other features.

“Our goal is to have something ready for move-in by the fall of 2018, and according to President Terry Gaalswyk and Vice President of Administration Lori Voss, the college has had several inquiries already -- some from private parties, some from housing groups and public/private partnerships,” said Roos.

“There are all sorts of entities that may be interested in developing this.”

In Roos’ 33 years at MWCTC, on-campus housing has yet to be a part of the school’s equation.

“There will definitely be some challenges with it, but it will be very good for enrollment and overall should be a really positive development,” Roos assured.

“We lose students every year due to a lack of local housing options.”

Hand-in-hand with limited student housing options is the question of how to aid students in getting out and about in Worthington once they are here, Roos indicated.

“We’d like to make some investment in providing transportation of some kind for students who live in apartments that are more than a comfortable walking distance from campus,” Roos said.

“We recognize there’s a real need for that and have heard about this consistently over the last several years. It’s hard for students to get to class, or to get groceries, if they don’t have cars, and many of them do not,” he continued.

“Worthington has an inadequate amount of public transportation, and we’re trying to find a way to fill that gap somewhat, if we can.”

A slight uptick in enrollment, the possibility of on-campus housing in a few years, new soccer and mechatronics programs and the usual flurry of fall activities (such as Homecoming, which is scheduled for Oct. 10-14) have Roos anticipating a full and fruitful 2016-17 academic year for the Bluejays.


Said Roos, “Unexpected things crop up during every first week -- and on most days of the school year, for that matter -- but we’re looking forward to getting things off to a good start this week.”

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