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Minnesota State College Southeast
A Technical & Community College
MSC Southeast

Winona Post Guest Column: Winona colleges team up on technical education

by Scott R. Olson, WSU president
July 7, 2021

Everyone I know in Winona is grateful to Larry Lundblad for his service as interim president of Minnesota State College Southeast (MSC Southeast). I’m in full agreement!

The college is poised for great success in the future, thanks to Larry, of course, but also thanks to the many community partners who have supported MSC Southeast’s mission, including Pat and Jerry Papenfuss.

It’s wonderful to have such support for higher education in our community.

Winona State University (WSU) is especially pleased to have worked with Larry and MSC Southeast on the Technical Education Training project, which will help shore up gaps in skilled workers in Minnesota. The project was born at the Winona Mini-Session in 2019 and shepherded by Rep. Gene Pelowski in the Minnesota House and Sen. Jeremy Miller in the Minnesota Senate.

There is a huge and worsening shortage of skilled workers. Just look at all the "help wanted" signs in town as proof of this shortage. The project we worked on together would help address this shortage.

Part of the shortage in skilled workers is that many high schools no longer have teachers to offer Industrial Arts and Sciences programs — or what we used to call "Vo-Tech" programs when I was in high school. A major reason schools don’t have these programs is that colleges of education in Minnesota no longer prepare Technical Education teachers to teach those classes. No teachers, no programs; no programs, no pipeline of workers.

Teaming up with MSC Southeast, we envisioned a new approach to preparing these teachers. In our plan, teacher candidates take two years of courses in advanced manufacturing and the trades at MSC Southeast, then transfer to WSU to earn their teaching license.

The Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate has passed the Jobs, Economic Development, and Labor Budget bill that includes $400,000 for the Technical Education Training program at WSU and MSC Southeast. A special thank you to Rep. Pelowski and Sen. Miller for their support. Now with the governor’s final signature in the books, we look forward to building off of our already strong partnership between MSC Southeast and WSU and addressing the long-term needs of employers in Greater Winona.

The task of delivering the first two years of the Tech Teacher program will fall to MSC Southeast’s new president, Marsha Danielson, and I have no doubt she will be successful.

I've worked with Marsha Danielson for 18 years and know that Winona and the college will flourish under her leadership. She comes to Winona from South Central College in North Mankato, Minn., which is where Larry Lundblad spent most of his career.

As I saw firsthand during my own time in Mankato, Marsha is a terrific community booster. She is smart, strong, bold, and responsive, and has an unwavering commitment to workforce development. I predict she will be a visible and integral part of the Winona community, taking MSC Southeast to new heights.

We were blessed to have Larry at the beginning of the project, and we will be blessed to have Marsha through the rest. And she is blessed to have a great community like Winona as her new home!

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