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Changing Lives for 50 Years

What an honor to be named North Hennepin Community College’s new president during its 50th anniversary milestone year. While I’m new in this role, I’m well aware of North Hennepin’s reputation of being a leader of higher education in the northwest metropolitan area since 1966, and have been briefed on its incredible history.   

(NHCC President Dr. Barbara McDonald and Dr. John Helling)

From what I understand, North Hennepin State Junior College had just 414 students when it first opened its doors to students at the Osseo Junior High School location. Dr. John Helling’s presidency from July 1, 1967 to June 30, 1990 helped shape the college and position its future. Founding faculty members not only taught classes, but developed brand new curricula from scratch. It was an exciting time! 

Vintage photo of faculty and student
(Vintage photo of student(s) and founding science faculty member, Howard Olson) 

Meanwhile, the community rallied together so the college could eventually have a place to call its own; and in 1969, it moved to its current location in Brooklyn Park. It wouldn’t be long before the college changed its name to North Hennepin Community College in 1973. “North Hennepin is a community institution. It is in and of the community,” Dr. Helling affirmed.  

Today, NHCC is proud to be one of the most diverse and high tech colleges in the state with over 10,000 students and 10 buildings, including our newest Bioscience & Health Careers Center featuring nursing labs, medical laboratory technology, simulation rooms, a telepresence classroom, lecture halls, meeting spaces, faculty offices, and student lounge areas.  

Photo of faculty and student 
(Current student and academic development faculty member, Colette Stuart)

Although much has changed between then and now, NHCC’s mission of engaging students, changing lives holds true. Just as exciting is what NHCC will become in the years ahead… What successful alumni will we produce? What new partnerships will we build? What global impact will we make?   

NHCC is hosting a number of anniversary events throughout the year to celebrate 50 Years of Changing Lives and everyone is invited! 


Dr. Barbara McDonald
NHCC President

50th Anniversary Logo