Colleges of the Northeast Higher Education District Receive Final Approval to Merge

Posted: March 16, 2022

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

       Dr. Trent Janezich, Minnesota North College,, 218-969-0045

ST. PAUL, Minn., March 16, 2022 – The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has voted to approve the merger of the five colleges of the Northeast Higher Education District, including Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College, and Vermilion Community College, into a single accredited institution with six campuses. The merged institution will operate under the name “Minnesota North College” starting May 23, 2022. All six campuses will remain open under the new structure.  The merger was also recently approved by the Higher Learning Commission, Minnesota North College’s regional accrediting body.  

“Operationally merging our institutions leverages the resources, talents, and marketability that comes with a larger, regional college yet maintains the long-cherished individual campus identities and community connections,” said Michael Raich, president of Minnesota North College.

“Students will benefit from a seamless educational experience along with expanded access to courses, programs, support services, and the team of experts that serve our six campuses,” Raich continued. “Working regionally, Minnesota North College will be able to provide a comprehensive response to our business and industry partners, which aligns with our new vision of being a catalyst for regional prosperity. The credit for our progress in this merger goes to the faculty, staff, students, and community members that have been engaged in our planning process.  I can’t thank them enough for their commitment and guidance.”

“This has been an extraordinary lift for the entire Minnesota North College community,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State, “and I commend President Raich and his team for all the hard work that was put into making this vision a reality. Visiting the six campuses of Minnesota North College is a wonderful experience because, while each one of them has a distinct personality and is unique geographically and programmatically, they all share a passionate commitment to students and their success.”

The merger provides several key benefits, the most important of which is improving services to students and stakeholders. Under a one-college model, students will have access to a more robust selection of courses and career programs, which will be accessible across six campuses with a single application and one transcript. Essential student services, such as registration and financial aid, will be simplified while still providing local, on-campus support.  A single college will lead to more clear and consistent collaborative efforts with regional K-12 and industry partners as well. The single-college model will lead to improved operational efficiency allowing resources to be better focused on mission-centric functions and improving long-term financial sustainability.

While today’s board action paves the way for the merger of the five colleges to become effective in May, fully operationalizing consolidated services will be an evolutionary process that will take additional time to reach maximum potential.

“We will pilot our systems over the summer and welcome the first full cohort of Minnesota North students in fall semester of 2022,” said Raich.


Minnesota State includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 340,000 students. Following the merger of five colleges in the Northeast Higher Education District, which goes into effect May 23, 2022, Minnesota State will operate 26 community and technical colleges. It is the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.