The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

July 29, 2013

SCC president shows vision, promise

Why it matters: With Annette Parker's background and vision, South Central College has a promising new leader.

Annette Parker only took over as the new president of South Central Collge earlier this month, but she's already been on a whirlwind listening tour and is wasting no time developing an ambitious vision for the college's future.

Parker brings a good mix of experience and talents to the community and technical college. The Michigan native has experience in the automotive industry and was most recently at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Since 2007 she has served as system executive director, National Center of Excellence in Advanced Automotive Manufacturing and system director, Workforce Education. Prior to KCTC, she served from 2002-2007 as department chair, Manufacturing Engineering Technologies at Lansing Community College in Michigan.

SCC, which serves more than 6,000 students on campuses in North Mankato and Faribault, has long proven itself to be responsive job trends and in establishing partnerships with regional businesses and industries, from linking nursing students with medical facilities to manufacturers giving mechatronics students hands-on experience.

With her deep experience in public/private partnerships, expanding collaborations at SCC is a natural goal for Parker, who says she constantly looks for ways to expand partnerships by creating win-win situations for all involved.

She's also aggressive in seeking grants and other funding opportunities — a vital ingredient for colleges in these days of tighter public financing and higher student tuition.

Parker wants to see SCC recognized as a "center of excellence" in a number of academic fields, similar to SCC's role in the Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence.

And Parker, recognizing the massive presence of agribusiness in the region, hopes to raise the level of partnerships and build on the already strong agribusiness program at SCC. The ag industry is a natural and rich sector for SCC to increase participation. The area is home to ag processing giants such as CHS and ADM and is one of the largest soybean processing centers in the country. Three statewide farm organizations —representing corn, soybean and hog producers — are based here, as is the Dupont Pioneer corn seed research center and upper Midwest business office. International ag giant Davisco Foods is in Le Sueur and countless farms and ag businesses dominate the region.

Outgoing SCC President Keith Stover, during a long career, left the college in strong shape. Parker's background, drive and vision should provide a strong future ahead for the campuses of SCC.

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