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NCTC president looks to continue college's success

Northland Community and Technical College President Dennis Bona delivers the State of the College presentation Thursday afternoon. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

Northland Community and Technical College President Dennis Bona wants to move the needle and take his college to the next level.

Though the role of a community and technical college is always changing and faces a number of challenges, Bona said he wants to build opportunities for both the students who attend the school and the community as a whole.

"Everytime I think of a challenge, I think of an opportunity," he said. "That's what they really are."

At the state of the college address Thursday at NCTC's East Grand Forks campus, Bona said he wants to improve the school through areas of opportunity in workforce development, transfer education, service learning and community development.

For instance, Bona said he hopes the college will soon launch a graduation requirement for every student to spend somewhere around 20 hours of community service in order to graduate and receive their associate degrees. Such a program would allow the community to get some of the help it needs and also teach students to be good citizens within the community.

NCTC has made progress in a number of areas, Bona said, including the school's enrollment increasing for the first time in six years and its job placement numbers rising "off the charts."

While the school continues to teach students many technical skills, it also provides students with their first opportunities for a post-secondary education.

The college, Bona said, presents opportunities for many different types of students.

"For a lot of very valid reasons, many people are not able to go on to professional degrees and go straight into college and universities out of high schools," he said. "It's wonderful that we have the opportunity at this community college for students who can start those tracks right here. If you want to be a doctor or an engineer or lawyer, but yet you don't have the resources or don't have the ability at this point in their life coming out of high school to go straight to a university after high school, you can start here."

Thursday was Bona's second time giving the state of the college address, an annual event hosted by NCTC and the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Bona has been at NCTC for a little over a year, taking over the office in July 2015 after Anne Temte retired.

NCTC has a campus in East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls and served 4,875 students in fiscal year 2015, according to the school's website.

Wade Rupard

Wade Rupard is a reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. Rupard is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is originally from Normal, Ill. 

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