State legislator championed Inver Hills
Senator James P. “Jim” Metzen passed away Monday, July 11, 2016, at the age of 72 after battling lung cancer. A South St. Paul native and member of the DFL, Senator Metzen represented District 52. Metzen was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1986 after serving 12 years in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He served as Senate president from 2003 to 2011. For more than four decades, Senator Metzen excelled as a state legislator with a reputation for cordiality and consensus building.
Cheryl Frank, former president of Inver Hills Community College (1998–2009), remembers Senator Metzen’s dedicated support of the college’s mission.
“The senator was a huge friend of the college,” Frank said. “He helped Inver Hills secure funding for a number of bonding projects, including the construction of Heritage Hall as well as the Fine Arts building and College Center expansions. He really went to bat for us and his support was critical. Funding for bonding projects is very competitive.”
Frank added that Senator Metzen enjoyed attending groundbreaking ceremonies on campus. In 2010, Inver Hills recognized the senator with a Distinguished Service Award for his decades of leadership on higher education issues.
“Senator Metzen would bend over backwards to make sure Inver Hills could provide the best possible learning environment for our students,” Frank said. “He cared a lot about students both in his hometown of South St. Paul and on the campus of Inver Hills. He will be greatly missed.”
Statement from Chancellor Steven Rosenstone on the passing of Senator Metzen
ST. PAUL, Minn., July 12, 2016 — “Senator Jim Metzen was a great friend of Minnesota State students, faculty, and staff during his years of service in the Minnesota legislature. Senator Metzen had a very special relationship with Inver Hill Community College and his friendship will be missed.”
In 1990, a fire in the Inver Hills College Center caused massive smoke and water damage. Senator Metzen and then Governor Rudy Perpich worked with state legislators on both sides of the aisle to obtain emergency funding to begin reconstruction.
Larry Margolis served as the college’s chief financial officer for three decades before retiring in 2011. He was CFO at the time of the fire.
“The fire started in the roof and proved difficult to extinguish,” Margolis recalled. “Facilities Director Mel Cordes and I walked through the building while water was cascading everywhere. A great deal of the building was destroyed, including the admissions and purchasing areas along with many offices, including mine. Many services had to be relocated. We pulled together as a campus community and got through a tough period in the college’s history.”
“Inver Hills is an important part of the education community in our part of Minnesota, and it’s been an honor for me to work on their behalf for so many years, securing much-needed funding for facilities and programs.” — Senator James P. Metzen.
“Even before the cleanup started, he was in the building with the firefighters, walking through the rubble.” — Representative Joe Atkins on Senator Metzen’s commitment in the aftermath of the College Center fire
Margolis reported that Senator Metzen was instrumental in securing just under $2 million in emergency funding to restore and improve the College Center. “The senator’s help was crucial,” he said. “He made it possible for us to come through the disaster better than we were before.”
Statement from the City of Inver Grove Heights on the passing of Senator Metzen:
“The City of Inver Grove Heights remembers Senator Jim Metzen as a friend and great public servant who tirelessly worked for Inver Grove Heights and the citizens of Minnesota. Because of his dedication to the citizens of Inver Grove Heights, the city was able to obtain funding for such important public projects like Swing Bridge Park, Heritage Village Park, Inver Hills Community College and Veterans Memorial Community Center. He was an accomplished legislator with 42 years of public service. It was a pleasure to work with him and he will be greatly missed.”
Tim Wynes, president of Inver Hills and Dakota County Technical College, expressed his condolences regarding the senator’s passing. “Senator Metzen assisted Inver Hills over the years on numerous important projects,” Wynes said. “He believed strongly in our mission as a community college. Our campus would not be anywhere near as vibrant, accommodating and productive as it is today without his tireless and insightful support. On behalf of the entire Inver Hills community, we have lost a great friend.”
To learn more about Senator James P. Metzen, you can read the following articles:
- “Lifelong friend of hockey Jim Metzen, South St. Paul state senator, dies” by J. Patrick Coolican, Star Tribune
- “Jim Metzen, a legacy that will live on” by Hannah Burlingame, LillieNews.com
- “South St. Paul’s Jim Metzen calls it quits after 40 years in Minnesota Legislature” by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, Pioneer Press
- In Memory of James P. Metzen, Legacy.com