Posted: July 30, 2007

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Incoming Normandale Community College President Joe Opatz

Joe Opatz

Joseph P. Opatz was appointed president of Normandale Community College in Bloomington today by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees.

Opatz, 55, is currently vice president for academic and student affairs at Central Lakes College in Brainerd. He was the interim president at Central Lakes College in 2005-2006, and he has served as a representative from St. Cloud in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

"Joe Opatz has gained the experience, skill and knowledge to be an outstanding president of Normandale," said Clarence Hightower, the board's vice chair. "This is one of our largest colleges and it has a track record of producing high-quality graduates who go on to four-year institutions or who begin successful careers. I know Joe will build on that success and take the institution to the next level of excellence."

Opatz holds a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree in counseling and student personnel from Kent State University in Ohio and a bachelor's degree in psychology from St. Cloud State University.

Chancellor James H. McCormick, who recommended Opatz' appointment, said, "His experience at several of our colleges and at St. Cloud State University will be invaluable in developing even stronger coordination among our institutions to benefit the people of Minnesota."

The search committee was led by Larry Litecky, president of Century College. "I was really pleased with the commitment and engagement by the college's community in looking at the three candidates. While it is a little unusual to do this during the summer, the community came together and fully participated in the process," he said.

In accepting the appointment, Opatz said, "I'm very excited about where Normandale is now and where it can go in the years ahead. I will put all my energies into moving the college forward."

Before his positions at Central Lakes College, Opatz served as interim executive dean and dean of instructional programs at Anoka-Ramsey Community College; associate vice president for academic affairs at St. Cloud State University; a visiting scholar in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota; special assistant to the president, director of the University Student Center and adjunct faculty member, all at St. Cloud State University; director of the Health Promotion Program at St. Cloud Hospital; executive director of the National Wellness Institute and adjunct faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point; senior personnel administrator for Hennepin County government and director of the Student Center at the College of New Jersey in Trenton.

Opatz, who will replace Katherine Hiyane-Brown, will begin his duties Sept. 17. Bernardine Bryant, formerly the vice president of administrative services at Normandale Community College for 13 years, will serve in the interim as president. Opatz and his wife, Pamela Steckman, have two children. Normandale Community College serves more than 13,000 students in credit courses annually and provides a variety of educational programs and delivery options.