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Ryan Johnson, Published June 29 2012

MSCTC’s Moorhead provost says departure ‘bittersweet’

MOORHEAD – After nine years of leading a campus that has more than doubled in enrollment and changed its mission, Provost Jerry Migler said he’s facing a “bittersweet” departure from Minnesota State Community and Technical College as he heads to Arizona for a new job.

Migler, 58, became the lead person on the Moorhead campus in 2003, when it was squarely a technical college with an enrollment of about 1,500.

But at the time, the school was transitioning from one of five Northwest Technical College campuses in the state to one of four sites of the newly formed MSCTC.

Migler said that change shifted the Moorhead school from its four-decade technical mission of preparing students to enter the workforce after one or two years of training to an institution that now has between 800 and 1,000 students each year who are working on an associate in arts degree that they can transfer to a four-year university.

“We continued to add and grow our technical programs, but the most significant growth has come from the liberal arts transfer side simply because we hadn’t had that before and there was a lot of demand in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” he said.

Enrollment on the Moorhead campus has climbed steadily since 2003, increasing to 3,700 students by last fall. Migler said the administration has kept up with that growth by adding 50 full-time faculty and staff members and investing about

$15 million in five major building projects.

“There’s been a lot of change on the Moorhead campus,” he said.

But Migler said the school’s new mission is in place now, and the campus is “in a good spot” for him to leave for a new job as provost and executive vice chancellor for Pima Community College.

He said the five-campus college based in Tucson, Ariz., often is one of the country’s 10 largest community colleges with an annual enrollment of 60,000 to 70,000 students.

Migler said he was “very impressed” with the school when he visited it as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission, the accreditation body for community colleges.

But he said he will miss the “fantastic group of faculty and staff” in Moorhead he has worked with for nine years.

“It is bittersweet because I have really enjoyed the people that I’ve worked with here,” he said. “But I’m at a point where we’ve accomplished a lot of the major goals that we had for the Moorhead campus, so it was a good time in my career to look at some new opportunities.”

Migler’s last day as the Moorhead provost is July 20, but he will be on campus for the last time next week.

He said MSCTC will not hire a replacement Moorhead provost after he leaves, and instead will shift his responsibilities to other administrators already on the campus.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587