Former Inver Hills student Craig Morris meets with Teacher Education students
Craig Morris, the senior planner and director of the PK–16 Teacher Recruitment and Retention Initiative (TRRI) for the University of Wisconsin System, attended Inver Hills Community College from 1976 to 1978, taking general education courses before transferring to the University of St. Thomas. Morris returned to Inver Hills, Thursday, March 20, 2014, to meet with students in a Teacher Education class taught by Heather Bandeen, Ph.D. He shared his knowledge regarding the pressing need for quality teachers at all levels of education, from preschool to college, as well as how students looking ahead to teaching careers can best attain licensure.
“For us, it’s an absolute privilege for Craig to come back to Inver Hills to share his perspective on education,” Bandeen said. “Having our students meet with and learn from important people in higher education is essential for advancing their careers in the teaching profession.”
Originally from St. Paul, Morris was an eighth grader when his family moved to Red Wing, Minn., in 1968. As the only African-American student at Red Wing High School, he was worried about how he could find his place in an almost entirely white student body. As it turned out, Morris had no trouble gaining acceptance and making friends in school. He got involved in football, choir and student government, graduating in 1973. Thirty-nine years later, he was inducted into the RWHS Wall of Honor.
After high school, Morris was appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., an experience that led him to the 934th Airlift Wing based out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Joint Air Reserve Station. As an aircrew member, he logged thousands of hours in a variety of aircraft, including the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop transport.
Morris looks back on his time at Inver Hills with fondness. “The campus only had three buildings,” he remembered, “and parking was no problem. I was able to earn nine credits from my prior learning experience.”
Morris went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Business Economics from St. Thomas and a Master of Science in Organizational Development from Cardinal Stritch University. He was elected mayor of Lakeland, Minn., in 1986, earning recognition as Minnesota’s first mayor of color. He served as mayor for 13 years. In 1991, he was appointed to the Metropolitan Council by the governor. Listed as a qualified neutral on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Roster, he owns and manages Valley Mediation Services LLC, which provides education and family mediation services in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In his current role with the UW System, Morris works with university campuses across Wisconsin to enhance diversity in the state’s teacher education programs while growing the system’s capacity for preparing teachers for high-demand licensure areas. He also works with colleges like Inver Hills to build connections that make the process of becoming a teacher easier for students to understand and navigate.
“When I talk to students who want to be teachers, my job is to both educate and motivate,” Morris said. “The need for highly qualified teachers has never been greater.”
For more information about Teacher Education programs at Inver Hills Community College, contact:
Heather Bandeen, Ph.D.
Teacher Education Instructor