'Paving the path to the American dream': Northland Community and Technical College turns 50

College has grown from just four full-time faculty members at its founding, to offer over 80 degree granting programs

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Sandy Kiddoo, President Northland Community and Technical College, presents Tim and Coleen Tweten a card to replicate a plaque that will be placed near apple trees in the courtyard at the East Grand Forks college in honor of Tim's father, Henry Tweten, a longtime champion and advocate of the school during a 50th anniversary celebration Friday, April 28, 2023 at NCTC.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

EAST GRAND FORKS – Community members gathered to celebrate Northland Community and Technical College’s role in what Minnesota's state chancellor called 50 years of "paving the path to the American dream," during a ceremony at the college on Friday.

The college — which opened its doors in 1972 with four full-time faculty members — has grown to offer more than 80 degree programs. Additionally, Northland has a transfer program, allowing students to complete their first two years of a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in a four-year institution.

In addition to its East Grand Forks location, Northland has a second campus in Thief River Falls, along with satellite campuses in Roseau and Warroad, Minnesota.

Sandy Kiddoo, president of Northland since 2021, said the college’s mission is to train its students to meet the needs of the region's workforce.

“I think back to the impact that Northland has on its communities — providing access to affordable higher education opportunities, and providing our local economy and employers with the workforce they need to be successful,” Kiddoo said. “All of this together ensures a vibrant, strong economy.”


Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra called Northland a “strategic asset” for the community — one that has enhanced the lives of countless students.

“You have always paved the path to the American dream,” Malhotra said. “Very often, to segments of populations coming from low income families, coming from first generation students. You have become the catalyst for upward economic and social mobility. We as campus leaders not only take our commitment and stewardship of the educational experience of our students seriously, we also take our stewardship of the region and communities we serve very seriously.”

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Tom Spoor and Karen Bolstad join others in a show of hands of former staff at Northland Community and Technical College during Friday's 50th anniversary celebration in East Grand Forks.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Anne Temte, who served as Northland’s president from 2006-2015, praised the college’s commitment to offering its students a holistic education.

“I think there are three letters that really exemplify all that you do here — K, S and A knowledge, skills and ability,” Temte said. “We have very strong technical programs, but also in the liberal arts. Whether you are in a technical field or a liberal arts field, you need to know how to read, write, do calculations and estimates and plan. All of the students who have gained knowledge, skills and ability are ready to go out and contribute to the world.”

The ceremony also honored Henry Tweten — a mainstay in East Grand Forks politics and visionary behind Northland’s founding — who died in 2021 at 97. The college presented Tweten’s son, Tim, with a plaque commemorating his contributions, and also named its apple orchard in his honor.

Dennis Bona, who served as president from 2015 to 2021, said Tweten was an invaluable advisor during his tenure.

"Every time I'd make a decision around here, Henry would weigh in on it," Bona said. "I'll always be appreciative to have been able to know him and his stories, and the advice he gave freely and often. He was a wonderful asset to this community and college."

Banish covers news pertaining to K-12 and higher education, as well as county commission coverage.
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