Stephanie Hammitt, interim president of Cloquet's Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, has been named president. The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities announced Hammitt as the new president Nov. 20. Hammitt took the interim position when the previous president, Larry Anderson, retired in July 2018.
Hammitt has worked for the college off and on beginning in 1990. Most recently, she was the vice president of Finance and Administration from 2016-18. She was chief financial officer for eight years before that.
“I am thankful to have this opportunity,” Hammitt said. “I believe in what we do and our mission.”
While she worked for the college for many years, there was still a learning curve when she took the interim position.
“I learn something new every day,” Hammitt said.
Hammitt said she depends on those around her to work together to get things done.
She constantly multi-tasks working on immediate and longer-term projects at the same time. She said she believes in listening closely when someone comes to her with an issue that needs solving and working together to solve it.
The biggest challenge since she took over was the college accreditation. She is waiting for the final review to come back for the accreditation to be official.
Hammitt is already working on the next big project. She is following the strategic plan for the college, which is out to 2025. Part of the strategic plan is to evaluate how the plan is working and if any changes or adjustments need to be made.
“We have to prioritize and figure out where to go,” Hammitt said.
Enrollment has been down for the last few years and Hammitt would like to change that. She is working on a few ideas to improve enrollment as well as possibly creating new certificates and classes.
“We need to be responsive to the outside world,” Hammitt said.
One of the projects is with the elementary education program. The college is partnering with Fond du Lac Reservation and looking into several possibilities including grants.
Native American people are a small percentage of the overall teachers at all levels. Hammitt said she's excited there will be eight graduating from FDLTCC. Because FDLTCC is a two-year program, it partners with Winona State University so the students can receive the four-year degree here.
“About 20% of the students in the Cloquet School District are Native,” Hammitt said. She hopes the teachers will help meet the students' needs as well as serve as positive role models.
While she enjoys the challenges the president position brings, she also enjoys watching the students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.
“It is one of my favorite days,” Hammitt said. “It validates what we do.”