Presentation staying until 2021

FAIRMONT — Presentation College is maintaining its presence in Fairmont but only through May 2021.

Diane Duin, vice president for academics at the college, was in Fairmont in late November to meet with Fairmont city administrator Mike Humpal. It was decided then that the college would renew its lease at the city-owned Southern Minnesota Educational Campus through May 2021 so that all current sophomores can finish their programs.

Presentation College in Fairmont made a decision not to accept any incoming freshmen when classes began in the fall of 2018 because of a low number of applications. Since then, the status of the college’s future has been a topic of speculation, given that its current lease at SMEC expires in June.

In December, the Presentation board of directors asked Duin to put in place teach-out plans for the roughly 50 students attending the college at the Fairmont campus, so that Presentation could work with the students through their programs. Each of the students attending classes at the Fairmont campus has met individually with faculty and the deans about completing their programs successfully.

“We’re not stopping any programs,” Duin said. “We’ll always offer nursing and radiology technology. We’re just not going to be offering it at that location in a face-to-face format.”

While Presentation has closed several other campuses, including its Sioux Falls and Eagle Butte, S.D., sites, its main Presentation College campus in Aberdeen, S.D., is doing well, according to Duin. Presentation also has an online virtual campus.

“There will be still opportunities for students who wish to pursue an education with Presentation College,” Duin said.

Presentation College has been the main occupant of SMEC since 2005. Duin said deciding to leave was not easy but was necessary.

“We discovered that we have met our mission in Fairmont,” she said. “What we started there 15 years ago was something different and unique. Now there are many players in this game, there’s so much competition. There’s opportunities for online learning. The reasons we went over there to do our work are no longer valid in that area. There’s many other opportunities for students and they’re apparently deciding to do them.”

Duin said she visits Fairmont every few months and will continue to touch base here to make sure everything is running smoothly. Faculty and staff at Fairmont’s campus know they will have another few years here.

“Even though we won’t be doing the delivering of the programs in the Fairmont location, we will still use our clinical sites because we’ll still be offering nursing on our PC campus and online so we’ll still need clinical sites,” Duin said. “Our plan is to continue to use the sites we have in that area so you’ll still see PC students in Fairmont.”

Presentation’s decision to extend its lease until 2021 is good news for the city. The college has been paying about $40,000 per year for its space at SMEC, or about half of what it costs the city to operate the facility.

Nearly two decades ago, the city acquired the site from Fairmont Area Schools for $1 before spending $1.2 million to rehabilitate the building. In addition to having housed different colleges, SMEC is used by community groups and others for meetings and seminars.

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