From: Margaret Schild
I was saddened to hear of Dr. Dorothy Duran’s resignation from Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical.
But I was surprised and confused by Rep. Gene Pelowski’s comments after she resigned. He said that Dr. Duran “was never a good fit … The technical college has always been very in touch with this region and its businesses, particularly those businesses that need workers to be trained. That focus was not as intensive these past three years.”
That’s not what I’ve seen in working with Dr. Durand for three years on the Winona Workforce Development Board. She has routinely worked with the board’s business-sector representatives to find ways to create training programs based on employer needs and employer feedback. While doing that work she openly discussed with her fellow board members the challenges SE Tech faced and the strategies she and her staff were working on to address those challenges. She was diligent in looking for ways to increase enrollment through outreach to area high schools and area veterans and to provide support for at-risk students to increase retention.
Under Dr. Duran’s leadership, the region has seen the following:
• Retention among at-risk students increased by 10 percent thanks to a new advising program.
• Among new courses offered are prototype engineering AAS, computer engineering technology, automotive technology fundamentals, welding certification and an integrated electronics program.
• An Associates of Arts degree was created for students wanting to pursue a four-year college or university degree.
• A scholarship program was added for past and current military.
• Twenty-two high schools between Red Wing and Winona work with SE Tech to offer PSEO to high school juniors and seniors.
• Close to 1,000 area juniors and seniors attended an on-campus career expo featuring 78 businesses.
• Boy Scouts aged 12-18 could choose from 26 classes to earn merit badges.
• Summer boot camps helped students in math, English and/or success strategies as they progressed in their majors.
On top of all that, Dr. Duran was recently selected president of the 7 Rivers Alliance effective January 2018. The alliance is a tri-state leadership council dedicated to regional economic growth by fostering collaboration in Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa.
Besides being innovative and effective professionally, she was, at a personal level, generous and gracious in acknowledging the contributions of everyone who was part of a project.
The Winona area has lost a strong leader, one genuinely concerned with the wellbeing of the Red Wing and Winona communities, one who embraced collaboration and had a vision that would have taken Minnesota College Southeast Tech to even greater accomplishments. And that would have benefitted us all.