College president deserves support

  • Article by: HOWARD ORENSTEIN
  • Updated: December 29, 2012 - 4:16 PM

The faculty union's vote at Minneapolis Community and Technical College was unfortunate.

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Student on the campus of Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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A recent article indicated that some faculty at Minneapolis Community and Technical College were unhappy with the college's president, Phil Davis ("'No confidence' vote on MCTC leader," Dec. 20).

I have known and worked with President Davis for more than 25 years and believe he is one of the most talented and creative public officials in our state.

As a state representative many years ago, I served on the higher-education funding committee and was the chief House author of the legislation creating the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Since then, the percentage of public funding has fallen dramatically, and as a result, our higher-education leaders have needed to act decisively, shaking up the status quo so that quality and access could be preserved and enhanced for our students.

Davis and MCTC have been in the forefront of providing opportunities for thousands of students every year to learn and train for the changing workforce.

Davis was a driving force in conceiving and implementing the groundbreaking Power of You program, which through private support has enabled every graduate of St. Paul and Minneapolis public schools to attend college without the barriers of high tuition.

More than half of MCTC's students are students of color or low-income students, and many are immigrants, and they inspire us by succeeding to a remarkable degree. The number of faculty members of color has increased significantly.

Take a walk around the campus, and you will see the future of our region working and studying with great teachers and getting a first-class education. It is no wonder that MCTC has won many awards under Davis' leadership for its prudent financial practices, innovative partnerships, job training and academic excellence.

Let's continue to support this important institution, its leadership, faculty, staff and students as they help our community rise to our many challenges.

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Howard Orenstein is a St. Paul attorney.

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