Expanding collaborative discourse with students and community a top priority
Michael Berndt has served in his new role as interim president of Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College for seven weeks. During that period, Interim President Berndt has worked to engage his leadership team in priorities for the next year and to engage community members around the Inver Hills Community College mission: Dedicated to the power and promise of education, we inspire students, build careers and strengthen communities.
“Organizations are people coming together to achieve something larger than themselves,” Berndt said. “We have ambitious goals—developing learners to their full potential, growing the communities we serve, and connecting students to new employment opportunities that will improve their quality of life. That needs all of us at the colleges doing our best work, and that needs us partnering with community leaders, area employers, service agencies, K12 institutions and nonprofit community organizations.”
The interim president has been reaching out to the community extensively to learn about their needs and discover ways to collaborate in support of the Inver Hills and DCTC missions. “I’m continually impressed by how much community leaders value our two colleges,” he said. “They want us at the table as they develop our communities.”
Berndt reported that he has also been reaching out to areas within the college to learn more about ongoing operations. He noted that one essential goal of his interim role is creating a strong foundation for the incoming president.
He added that he achieved a milestone during the month of July. “I can leave my office and find my way back from anywhere on the two college campuses.”
High-level priorities for Inver Hills over the next 10 months
The college’s strategic plan, enrollment plan and academic master plan set multiple goals for the institution. “In the year that I’m here,” said Berndt, “I would like us to focus on a smaller set of priorities.”
Inver Hills has been doing work in developmental education, adult recruitment and other areas. “We have opportunities to support students through two critical transitions, points where we lose many of our students—fall to spring and spring to the second fall,” said Berndt. “I’m looking forward to seeing where the college can focus its efforts in the next year.”
Equity and inclusivity
Interim President Berndt has been working with Katie Nelson, anthropology faculty at Inver Hills, and Harold Torrence, business faculty at DCTC, to intensify efforts to make the Inver Hills campus increasingly equitable and inclusive. In the short term, the college is expanding support for multiple-language learners, creating more inclusive classrooms and developing more culturally-responsive services. The college is also going to look at ways to sustain this work over the long term.
“If we recruit and retain more students,” said Berndt, “we will stabilize our budget and create more resources to reinvest in programs and services. The colleges also have an opportunity to evaluate our work of alignment and to set a vision for our alignment going forward.”
Three words that describe you as a person:
CREATIVE. COLLABORATIVE. GENUINE.
More about Interim President Berndt…Before starting his term as interim president, Michael Berndt served four years as vice president of academic affairs at Century College. He will return to his CAO duties at Century when he completes his year-long assignment.
Interim President Berndt served as dean and vice president of planning and institutional effectiveness at Normandale Community College for four years before going to Century. He also worked at Normandale as assistant to the president for strategic initiatives for two years and an English UFT faculty member for six years. He taught English as an adjunct at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg University, and he worked as an ABE instructor in southern Illinois.
Berndt has a Master of Arts (M.A.) in English Language and Literature from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, Morris.
Originally from Hutchinson, Minnesota, Berndt commutes to Inver Hills and DCTC from Eden Prairie where he lives with his wife, Suzanne, and their two children, Reid and Paige.
I am grounded in the idea of service to our students and our community. That service is the moral compass that guides us. We need to listen to our students and make sure they feel included when we are making decisions that affect their college experiences.
— Interim President Michael Berndt
Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College
Michael Berndt Q & A
What do you consider your most important responsibility as interim president of Inver Hills?
Setting the right tone for the institution. Our mission and values are realized every day in our programs, processes, and services. Accomplishing our mission is based on our capacity to grow people and grow communities. That mission must be reflected in how we operate.
What is your greatest strength as an administrator?
I take an inclusive approach to my leadership role. I like to see more people at the table. The Cabinet, for example, has been talking about ways to distribute leadership more broadly across the colleges. We need everyone’s creativity and energy.
What is our college’s greatest challenge?
We are challenged by our financial model to manage costs and maintain enrollment. This includes both recruiting and retaining students. Fortunately, it is the same goal of many employers and community service agencies. We need to create pathways to meaningful employment and advanced education, so students and their families, employers, government agencies, and community-based organizations can thrive.
What is the greatest strength of our campus communities?
We have so much talent in our colleges—so many bright and motivated people. I am always excited when I get to work with professionals who care about what they’re doing.
To learn more about Inver Hills and DCTC Interim President Michael Berndt, contact:
Inver Hills Community College
Dakota County Technical College