Riverland officials continue gathering input from residents

Published 7:00 am Sunday, October 13, 2013

AUSTIN — Riverland Community College is seeking public input as it moves ahead with plans for the college’s future.

Riverland officials held a town meeting at the Coffee House on Main Friday where residents reviewed six recommended priorities for the college and gave their input on how Riverland officials can best serve students and the region moving forward.

The meeting was the fourth such informational session Riverland officials have held over the past month. The college sought input from Albert Lea and Owatonna residents, as well as from a staff meeting held earlier this month.

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Riverland officials are joining Minnesota State Colleges and Universities officials in discussing how best student needs can be met over the next few years. Riverland president Adenuga Atewologun said community colleges and universities throughout the state are looking at what employers are expecting from college graduates, which includes more focus on workplace skills and less focus on educational pedigree.

“You have to demonstrate competency to deliver,” Atewologun told residents.

Residents felt Riverland could better address student needs by providing more childcare opportunities or alternate class times for nontraditional students, more partnerships with local businesses and expanded agricultural and nursing programs, which some residents felt should include a pig farm technician degree to train future hog suppliers for Hormel Foods Corp.

“There were many good suggestions to take back to MnSCU,” Sandy Forstner, executive director of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, said. Forstner was one of more than a dozen residents to offer input.

Those ideas will be part of Riverland’s report to MnSCU, though Atewologun noted some of those ideas will likely be used as part of Riverland’s strategic planning. Atewologun said Riverland administrators will create a strategic plan for the next three to five years over the next six months.