Back to the Jan-Feb 2019 issue

How Is Your City’s Relationship With the Local College?

City Administrator
Canby (Population 1,736)
Canby is an active city with many businesses, a theater that was restored by a community effort, Sanford Medical Center, many parks, and a pool. We are also home to the Canby Campus of the Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

The Canby Campus has been around since 1965 and has the technical programs of dental assisting, diesel technology, electrician, and wind energy technology. There are currently 144 students enrolled at the college.

Good city-college relations

The city and college have a great working relationship. City administrators have been asked to collaborate with the college during their strategic planning sessions. They have also been asked to serve on the college’s Foundation Board.

The college and its students are very involved with the community. The college puts on many community events throughout the year and invites all residents to attend. For example, they host the Harvest Fest week, where the community gets involved in a pumpkin decorating contest. This year, they also brought in a drunk driving simulator and invited the community to come out and try it.

Students are always pitching in to help the Canby community. They assisted the city in assembling the playground equipment at Central Park. They also attend Rotary Club meetings, where they interact with members of the community and get involved in projects that interest them.

Communitywide meeting

The city and college also participate in a quarterly meeting hosted by Sanford Medical Center. These meetings are attended by a few community members and business leaders; city, school, and college administrators; and Sanford representatives. The purpose is to share with each other some of the major projects we’re working on currently and what is on the horizon.

College is an asset

Although college students may have a reputation for causing problems at times, that has not been our experience. The community has benefited from having the college.

The students are a great asset to our community because they volunteer, work jobs while going to school, patronize the businesses in town, and rent homes while they are here. We have greatly enjoyed our work with the college and their students, and we hope to see it grow.

City Administrator
Staples (Population 2,934)
Staples leaders feel very fortunate to have an institution like Central Lakes College (CLC) in our city. We have a very positive relationship, and we work together to make Staples a great community.

Central Lakes College, with campuses in Staples and Brainerd, is one of 37 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities offering excellent, affordable educational opportunities. CLC began when Staples Technical College was established in 1950 in the Staples High School. It was approved as an area vocational technical school in 1959.

A visible partnership

The partnership between the city and CLC is easy to see. The first thing you notice when traveling along Highway 10 are flags welcoming visitors to Staples and Central Lakes College.

Mayor Chris Etzler gives a welcome address to incoming students during the CLC fall orientation. He tells the students about activities and resources available in the area.

The dean of the Staples campus is involved in many community organizations, committees, and teams. This provides college input and creates a great city/college connection.

Partnering on activities

The City and CLC work together on a variety of activities for residents and students alike. For example, there is a community garden on the CLC Agricultural Campus, and it provides corn for the annual corn feed during the community Railroad Days. Also, a multiuse walking/biking trail was constructed by students using equipment from the college’s Heavy Equipment Operations and Maintenance program.

Students add a lot to our community. The CLC Student Senate leads classes at the City Community Center, actively promotes voting, and is involved in the annual “Paint the Town” program.

Partnering on safety services

The city/college partnership also focuses on safety. CLC contracts with the city to have a student resource officer who addresses public safety needs and helps educate students about appropriate behavior.

Students are educated about fire safety as well. The volunteer Staples Fire Department has training sessions at the college campus and in the CLC controlled burn facility.

The presence of CLC in the community is very positive. The college provides employees for local business and industries. The students make great contributions to the community and the local economy. Together, we can do more.