Meet the Interim President: Michael Berndt

President Michael Berndt
President Michael Berndt

Expanding collaborative discourse with students and community a top priority

Michael Berndt has served in his new role as interim president of Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College for seven weeks. During that period, Interim President Berndt has worked to engage his leadership team in priorities for the next year and to engage community members around the DCTC mission: Providing collegiate-level education for employment.

“Organizations are people coming together to achieve something bigger than themselves,” Berndt said. “We have ambitious goals—developing learners to their full potential, growing the communities we serve, and connecting students to new employment opportunities that will improve the quality of life for them and their families. That needs all of us at the colleges doing our best work, and that needs us partnering with community leaders, area employers, service agencies, K12 institutions and nonprofit community organizations.”

The interim president has been reaching out to the community extensively to learn about their needs and discover ways to collaborate in support of the DCTC and Inver Hills missions. “I’m continually impressed by how much community leaders value our two colleges,” he said. “They want us at the table as they develop our communities.”

Berndt reported that he has also been reaching out to areas within the college to learn more about ongoing operations. He noted that one essential goal of his interim role is creating a strong foundation for the incoming president.

He added that he achieved a milestone during the month of July. “I can leave my office and find my way back from anywhere on the two college campuses.”

High-level priorities for DCTC over the next 10 months

Student success

We need to focus on what the college can do to continue improving student retention and completion. One significant goal will be following through on the college’s five-year, $3.2 million dollar U.S. Department of Education Title III grant—Adult Learners: Service, Success, & Growth.

Equity and inclusivity

I have been working with Harold Torrence, business faculty at DCTC, and Katie Nelson, anthropology faculty at Inver Hills, to intensify our efforts to make the DCTC campus increasingly equitable and inclusive. Creating more inclusive classrooms and developing more culture-responsive services are two key approaches. Harold and Katie have already teed up ideas to make this happen. Our goal during the coming year will be establishing the means to sustain our advances over the long term.

Financial sustainability

One of my most important objectives is bringing more and more members of the campus community into the decision-making process. We can achieve more success by receiving a full range of input when managing issues such as budget and facilities. We will be looking for ways DCTC and Inver Hills can work together to streamline our operations and sustain the financial health of our institutions.

Three words that describe you as a person:

More about Interim President Berndt…

Michael Berndt

Michael Berndt

Before starting his term as interim president, Michael Berndt served four years as vice president of academic affairs at Century College. He will return to his CAO duties at Century when he completes his yearlong assignment.

Interim President Berndt served as dean and vice president of planning and institutional effectiveness at Normandale Community College for four years before going to Century. He also worked at Normandale as assistant to the president for strategic initiatives for two years and an English UFT faculty member for six years. He taught English as an adjunct at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg University, and he worked as an ABE instructor in southern Illinois.

Berndt has a Master of Arts (M.A.) in English Language and Literature from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Originally from Hutchinson, Minnesota, Berndt commutes to Inver Hills and DCTC from Eden Prairie where he lives with his wife, Suzanne, and their two children, Reid and Paige.

Professional philosophy

I am grounded in the idea of service to our students and our community. That service is the moral compass that guides us. We need to listen to our students and make sure they feel included when we are making decisions that affect their college experiences.

— Interim President Michael Berndt
    Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College

Michael Berndt Q & A

What do you consider your most important responsibility as interim president of DCTC?
Setting the right tone for the institution. Our mission and values are realized every day in our programs, processes, and services. Accomplishing our mission is based on our capacity to grow people and grow communities. That mission must be reflected in how we operate.

What is your greatest strength as an administrator?
I take an inclusive approach to my leadership role. I like to see more people at the table. The Cabinet, for example, has been talking about ways to distribute leadership more broadly across the colleges. We need everyone’s creativity and energy.

What is our college’s greatest challenge?
We are challenged by our financial model to manage costs and maintain enrollment. This includes both recruiting and retaining students. Fortunately, it is the same goal of many employers and community service agencies. We need to create pathways to meaningful employment and advanced education, so students and their families, employers, government agencies and community-based organizations can thrive.

What is the greatest strength of our campus communities?
We have so much talent in our colleges—so many bright and motivated people. I am always excited when I get to work with professionals who care about what they’re doing.

To learn more about DCTC and Inver Hills Interim President Michael Berndt, contact:

Angela Burns
Marketing Director
Dakota County Technical College
Inver Hills Community College