An investment in the public colleges in our community is an investment in the people and area business. Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College offer immeasurable, life-transforming impact on the lives of students and the success of local businesses. For example, 90% of Anoka Tech graduates are employed in a job related to their program of study within a year of graduation.
Another example is the story of Victorine Almo Forch, a mother of five children and immigrant from Cameroon who is transforming her life and the lives of her family members by completing her pre-pharmacy associate’s degree at Anoka-Ramsey. She will transfer to the University of Minnesota Pharmacy program to complete her bachelor’s degree. Forch has a 4.0 GPA and advises others considering college to “not limit yourself. Believe in yourself. Have a dream and go for it!”
We relate this story because it illustrates one of the many powerful ways that Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College provides opportunities for all Minnesotans to create a better future for themselves, for their families, and for their communities. This particular example was possible because of the outstanding work of our dedicated faculty and staff, but also because we had the resources to make it happen. We made an investment in higher education and it paid off.
The legislative session has just six weeks until completion. Legislators are considering many important investments, among them funding for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, which of course includes Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Maybe you've heard about our funding request and maybe you've been wondering what it’s for and why it’s so important. If so, here’s what you need to know.
Our colleges and universities have two primary sources of funding: tuition from students and appropriations from the state of Minnesota. Thanks to the legislature and Governor Dayton, we have frozen tuition for the last two years, making college more affordable for students in East Central Minnesota and the northwest metro region. With the exception of a funding increase last session, over the past 15 years, state support for higher education has been on a steep decline. Since 1999, Minnesota has cut higher education funding by 53 percent. We used to lead the nation when it came to supporting our state colleges and universities but now we lag far behind. Once we were 21 percent above the national average and now we’re 20 percent below. It has become increasingly difficult to offer opportunities like the one Victorine Almo Forch has.
And our ability to offer these opportunities has never been more important. Within five years, fully 74 percent of the jobs in Minnesota will require some postsecondary credentials. At a time when the demographics of the state are such that 70 percent of our growth will come from underserved populations, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is the only resource able to respond: our colleges and universities serve more first-generation students, more students of color and American Indian students, more low-income students, and more veterans than all of Minnesota’s other higher education options – combined.
As you hear about all the many investments being considered this legislative session, I hope you will keep higher education in mind. Making college accessible to all Minnesotans, meeting the future workforce needs of Minnesota, and protecting our ability to deliver the programs necessary to make that happen are all things worthy of our investment.
Kent Hanson, President
Andrew Aspaas, MSCF Faculty President Anoka-Ramsey Cambridge
Mary Falk, AFSCME Staff Anoka Tech
Dana Gangl, AFSCME Staff Anoka-Ramsey
Valerie Knight, AFSCME Staff Anoka-Ramsey
Noel Lutsey, MAPE Staff Anoka-Ramsey & Anoka Tech
Jeffrey Mammenga, AFSCME Staff Anoka Tech
Thomas McCarthy, MSCF Faculty President Anoka-Ramsey Coon Rapids
Shayla McKinney-Buck, Student Government President Anoka-Ramsey Cambridge
Julie Myers, MSCF Faculty President Anoka Tech
Kevin Parker, Student Government President Anoka-Ramsey Coon Rapids
Wendy Walentiny, AFSCME Staff Anoka Tech
Adam Welter, Student Senate President Anoka Tech