The interim president of five community colleges in northeast Minnesota that are in the process of merging into one institution has agreed to stay on permanently.

Michael Raich, who's served as interim leader of the "Northeast High Education District" since 2019, was officially named its president Wednesday.

The Minnesota State system also named new presidents to lead two other colleges.

The Northeast Higher Education District includes Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College and Vermilion Community College.

The schools, which collectively serve 5,600 students annually, are set to merge after years of declining enrollment and revenue losses.

Their separate campuses will remain, but they will operate under the umbrella of a single college that is expected to be operational by fall 2022.

"With Dr. Raich at the helm, the Northeast Higher Education District is well on its way to charting this collective, shared future," Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra said in a statement.

Minnesota State named Sandra Kiddoo the next president of Northland Community and Technical College, which has campuses in Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks.

Kiddoo has served as chief academic officer at Hazard Community and Technical College in Kentucky since 2018.

There she helped create a long-term facility plan, obtain millions of dollars in grant funding and add new manufacturing programs, among other things. Her appointment takes effect July 1.

Marsha Danielson was named the next president of Minnesota State College Southeast, which has campuses in the river towns of Red Wing and Winona. Her appointment is also effective July 1.

Danielson has worked at South Central College, a community and technical college with campuses in Faribault and North Mankato, since 2007.

She has been the college's vice president of economic development since 2016.

She is also a racial justice proponent who was the founding director of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council.

Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234