Board of Trustees Approves Intention to Merge Accreditations of the NHED Colleges

Posted: January 29, 2020

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 29, 2020 – The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has approved a motion expressing support for the intention of merging the accreditations of the five colleges of the Northeast Higher Education District (NHED) into one accredited college. The action paves the way for the District to proceed with comprehensive planning to merge the accreditations, and subsequent action by the Board of Trustees will be required to approve this plan. There are no plans to close any of the NHED campuses. 

“Restructuring our five colleges into one accredited institution with six campuses will have many long-lasting benefits for our region,” said Michael Raich, interim president of NHED. “We will create seamless learning experiences for students across the region, expand academic programming regionally, strengthen regional employer, university, and K-12 partnerships, and improve operational efficiencies. Operating our six campuses under a single accreditation will allow us to leverage the capacity and flexibility of a larger, cohesive college while still maintaining the important individual campus identities that our communities have grown to trust.” 

NHED consists of five colleges: Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College, and Vermilion Community College. The district has a total of six campuses in Ely, Eveleth, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, International Falls, and Virginia. The total credit enrollment of the district is approximately 6,000. According to Raich, district-wide strategic planning, regional academic planning, and numerous campus meetings involving multiple stakeholder groups helped guide this decision. 

For next steps, NHED leadership will work with the Higher Learning Commission, the organization that accredits the colleges and universities of Minnesota State, to determine the necessary steps and application process for merging accreditations. 

Raich continued, “The process will be evolutionary and will take several years to reach full implementation.  We have set a goal of operating under the new model starting in Fall semester of 2022.” 

“I appreciate Interim President Raich’s leadership regarding this work, as well as all those who have participated in the collaborative conversations to bring this recommendation forward,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor for Minnesota State.  “Their efforts will result in more dynamic higher education options for the students and communities in northeast Minnesota.”


Minnesota State includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 350,000 students. It is the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.