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Editorial: Celebrate 50 years of college education

A regional educational leader -- Ridgewater College of Willmar and Hutchinson -- is celebrating 50 years of higher education in west central Minnesota.

Over the past half century, Ridgewater and its predecessor institutions have helped many in west central Minnesota build their post-secondary education.

Those student numbers are impressive.

When Willmar Community College opened in 1961 there were 87 students enrolled. When Hutchinson Vocation Technical Training Center opened in 1967, there were 38 students enrolled.

In 1992, the Willmar and Hutchinson institutions became one. Today Ridgewater College enrolls more than 6,000 students in credit classes and serves another 15,000 individuals through personal or professional development.

Ridgewater is a major educational factor in west central Minnesota. The college is an economic contributor to the region with an annual payroll of more than $23 million.

The college is a positive factor for both employers and employees across the region. Ridgewater graduates are found in law enforcement, medicine, business, education, construction and many other sectors.

Join Ridgewater today in an anniversary celebration beginning at noon, followed by a homecoming tailgate party at 4 p.m. at Hodapp Field, following by a 6 p.m. football game.

Thank you to Ridgewater College, its administration, faculty and staff, and their students and graduates for bringing the important college experience and education to west central Minnesota.

Best wishes for the next 50 years of education for our region.