It’s official! Anoka Technical College in Anoka and Anoka Ramsey Community College in Cambridge and Coon Rapids have joined forces by officially becoming an aligned institution, July 1, 2011. This alignment creates the largest community and technical enterprise in Minnesota, serving more than 16,000 students annually.
Former Chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, James McCormick explained the decision to align these two schools in a November 2010 press release stating, “After a careful review, I am convinced that aligning programs and services in Anoka and Isanti counties is in the best interests of our students. Restructuring the two colleges will create efficiencies in administration and better coordination of programs for students. Partnerships with business and industry in the area also will be enhanced.”
McCormick also said, “each college will retain its own name, mission and accreditation. It is essential that the colleges retain their identity and distinct nature as they serve differing student populations.”
Sharing a president was the first restructuring move for the aligned institutions. Dr. Jessica M. Stumpf, Interim President of both colleges, is leading the beginning stages of the alignment process, and describes how, “staff and faculty from Anoka Technical and Anoka-Ramsey are just beginning to know and understand one another by respecting the other’s culture, history and unique ways of serving students. Serving the higher education needs of the north metro and East Central Minnesota regions is the reason we are here. Every choice we make places students first!”
Next steps include filling open staff positions and sharing college infrastructure services such as information technology, facilities and public safety. The academic departments will remain separate this school year, however faculty are encouraged to collaborate to enhance teaching and learning opportunities. The colleges are also exploring ways to increase/share student life offerings for the student body.
Shifting Fiscal Landscape
The need for alignment and additional cost-saving measures is more pressing than ever. Between decreased appropriations and this year’s declining enrollments, the fiscal landscape is shifting at both Anoka Technical and Anoka-Ramsey along with most public institutions. The education bill for the next biennium resulted in a $1.19 million appropriation reduction for Anoka Technical College and a $1.92 million appropriation reduction for Anoka-Ramsey. Adding to the complexity, both schools are anticipating declining enrollments for fall semester 2011.
“Anoka Tech has experience increasing enrollments in recent years, and Anoka-Ramsey has enjoyed the second fastest growth rate of all MnSCU institutions since 2006, yet this year we anticipated about a 5.5 percent decrease in enrollment,” says Stumpf. “We expected this decrease due to a natural leveling after record high enrollments. We have also identified potential cuts to prepare for this unfortunate trend but continue to adjust and look for ways to increase efficiencies while improving recruitment and retention strategies.”
Nearly all metro-area two-year colleges are seeing a decline in enrollments for fall semester 2011 compared to fall semester 2010.
Stumpf explains several reasons for the enrollment declines at Anoka-Ramsey and Anoka Technical College, including a demographic shift with decreased numbers of high school graduates in the college’s service areas. In addition, there is increased competition from universities, private and for-profit colleges in the area. Anoka-Ramsey also lost about 2% of its enrollment with the movement of an off-campus liberal arts program to St. Cloud Technical College.
“This is a new day for all of us with the opportunity to share new ideas and become a stronger community resource. We enter into this aligned relationship with enthusiasm and with staff and faculty who truly care to place students above all else,” says Stumpf. “Despite fiscal challenges, we remain committed to providing excellence in higher education for the incredible communities we serve.”
ABOUT ANOKA TECHNICAL COLLEGE
Anoka Technical College, founded in 1967, provides innovative career and technical education to help students and communities live and learn well. From the beginning years of offering just five classes, the two–year college has grown to an institution that offers over 35 career and technical, degrees, diplomas and certificates and serves the needs of over 3,500 student each year. The hands-on, structured classes and small class sizes are enhanced by the diversity of the student body, faculty, and staff, who bring a rich blend of ethnicity, culture and age to the college. Anoka Technical College is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.
ABOUT ANOKA-RAMSEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Anoka-Ramsey Community College, with campuses in Cambridge and Coon Rapids, has been a leading provider of higher education and training in East Central Minnesota since 1978 and the north suburban area of Minneapolis/St. Paul since 1965. Annually, the college serves more than 12,000 learners of all ages as they pursue associate degrees that transfer as the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, or certificate programs that lead immediately to rewarding careers. In fiscal year 2010, the Professional Training division provided 2,101 people more than 45,000 hours of courses or training. Anoka-Ramsey Community College is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.