Big changes on the horizon for M State

Detroit Lakes campus to focus on local workforce needs. Particularly health care, manufacturing and workforce training.

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The M State campus in Detroit Lakes will be building a simulation facility for those training in the health care field. The school will change its curriculum focus to health care, manufacturing and workforce training.
Contributed / M State

DETROIT LAKES — M State is breaking ground, internally. The college will be changing its curriculum offerings over the next two years, with a focus on local workforce needs.

The Detroit Lakes campus will become the M State hub for post-secondary education in manufacturing, health care and workforce training. The changes will include a simulation lab — meant to simulate real-world situations — for those in the health care field, as well as specialized training for manufacturing jobs.

Some of the other programs that are currently offered may be relocated to another M State campus, of which there are four.

M State President Carrie Brimhall said notifications to students will begin next week if their program is set to be transferred to another campus in coming years. She emphasized the college was mindful to prevent students from “being caught up” in changes to programs. For example, if a student is in a program that is transitioned to another campus before they graduate, a travel stipend may be offered.

“We will give students options, and we will work with them,” she said.


An annual assessment is taken in regard to program enrollment. Programs currently offered at the Detroit Lakes campus that have “historically low enrollment” and continue to struggle may transfer to another M State facility, Brimhall said.

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The M State campus in Detroit Lakes may offer classes during the nontraditional school year. Many opportunities and changes are being considered by administration.
Contributed / M State

The Detroit Lakes M State campus employs 54 permanent staff/faculty. When the campus transitions fully to its new vision, Brimhall said no job reductions are expected.

Data and discussions provided direction for M State’s future

The change in direction for the Detroit Lakes campus came about during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic forced us to reexamine what our ‘niche’ is — in Detroit Lakes, in particular,” Brimhall said.

The current headcount of full-year students who attend classes on the DL campus is 288. That’s down from 503 in 2019, the last year before the pandemic.

During the pandemic, Brimhall said community colleges “took the biggest hit” in enrollment. Many students attending the college were frontline workers and have families. As classes transitioned online, some students realized there were benefits to having a more flexible schedule that strayed from the traditional classroom setting.

Following the realization there was a change in the current of higher education, M State officials took a deep dive into data, met with local businesses, community leaders and staff, and created an advisory council. The discussions began in the fall of 2022 and wrapped up in February 2023 with a new vision for M State, and the Detroit Lakes campus.

The Detroit Lakes campus will become the M State hub for postsecondary education in manufacturing, health care and workforce training.
Contributed / M State

Brimhall said during the meetings it became apparent that the niche of the Detroit Lakes M State campus was not defined. There was also a noticeable gap in meeting the needs of the manufacturing industries. After collecting input and reviewing data, a new blueprint emerged.


“We are excited to reimagine our presence in the Detroit Lakes community to be more aligned with the needs of local business and industry,” Brimhall said. “We see the changes at M State as an opportunity to adapt and better support our regional economy, which we believe will propel us into an even stronger future.”

One addition to the Detroit Lakes campus will be an simulation facility for those training in the health care field. The facility is planned to be built on more than one campus, and will allow students to enter a simulated environment to “get a full picture” of what their jobs are like when they enter the workforce. Brimhall attributed the opportunity to the school receiving a $4.2 million grant from the Department of Labor.

Currently, M State offers non-credit training for manufacturing skill sets, but there are no degrees or certificates available to students. M State administrators will meet with local manufacturing companies in coming months to develop strategies to grow a skilled workforce, as well as provide additional training for the current workforce, Brimhall said. She noted they have a blank slate and plenty of space to dream, create a partnership and a new path forward that will benefit the community (and surrounding cities).

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