Klobuchar visits Bemidji: Meeting focuses on federal support for BSU programs

Two Bemidji State University programs are examples of the direction in which the country needs to move, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., said Wednesday in Bemidji.

Two Bemidji State University programs are examples of the direction in which the country needs to move, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., said Wednesday in Bemidji.

Klobuchar visited Bemidji Wednesday as part of her Main Street Tour across Minnesota. Her tour schedule also included stops Wednesday in Warroad, Baudette, Itasca State Park, Mahnomen and Ada.

In Bemidji, Klobuchar visited with Bemidji State University administrators and faculty members about federal support for the university's nursing and engineering technology programs.

BSU will receive $584,000 in federal appropriations to support the two programs.

"It's enabling us to create some learning environments that are truly unique," BSU President Jon Quistgaard said.


The funds for BSU are part of an appropriations bill signed into law Dec. 26 by President Bush that included nearly $4 million for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

Klobuchar said the federal funds for the two programs will be good for Bemidji as well as the country. She said the programs set an example of where the country needs to go to be competitive economically at the international level.

BSU will use $243,000 of the funds it receives to increase the number of baccalaureate-trained nurses entering the workforce in northwestern Minnesota and surrounding areas. The funds will pay for curriculum materials and equipment for skills labs.

The other $341,000 will help northern Minnesota companies remain competitive by preparing engineering technology graduates for technical manufacturing processes, according to a press release from BSU earlier in the week. The funds will focus on capital improvements for BSU's engineering technology and industrial technology programs.

A Center for Excellence led by BSU is helping cultivate Minnesota's future manufacturing workforce through a new Seamless Career Pathway Model, launched last fall.

The 360 Degrees Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence is an enterprise of MnSCU that is designed to help people develop the high-tech skills they need to secure jobs in manufacturing and applied engineering and to strengthen Minnesota industry. Based on the BSU campus, 360 Degrees partners with seven two-year colleges across the state.

The Seamless Career Pathway Model shows students up front how they can start their education and then begin working in a career. It also shows people already in the workforce how to advance their education and careers.

"I think it's a great leap forward from where we've been in the past," said Darren Olson, chairman of BSU's Department of Technological Studies.


He said it helps boost enrollment as well as provides a pathway for people interested in pursuing technology and engineering careers or further their education in those fields.

Meanwhile, the federal funds dedicated to BSU's nursing program will help support its emerging four-year-track nursing education program.

"This is a big deal for us," said Jeanine Gangeness, chairwoman of BSU's Department of Nursing.

She said the funds will help the department design curriculum focused on nursing in rural, multi-cultural areas such as the Bemidji area. The new four-year-track program will also help address the nursing shortage, which is felt nationwide, by training more nurses.

"We're trying very hard to meet those needs," she said.

She said BSU's nursing program has strong partnerships with health care facilities in the region, which are among the facilities impacted by the shortage of nurses.

"We're hoping to fill the regional need," Gangeness said.

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