WILLMAR — Ridgewater College Vice President Betty Strehlow will retire this week after 29 years with the college and 38 years in education.
Strehlow joined the college’s administration in 1990, when it was called Willmar Community College. The college later consolidated with technical colleges in Hutchinson and Willmar to become Ridgewater.
Strehlow has been vice president of academic affairs and student services for 14 years. Since 1990, she has worked in five different administrative roles and for six college presidents. She had previously taught sociology, psychology and human services for six years.
“Betty has been a huge asset for our college and we will miss her expertise and experience,” said Ridgewater President Dr. Craig Johnson in a news release. “I’m grateful for her assistance with my entry into the college in my first year with Ridgewater.”
Strehlow is a graduate of Ridgewater College and has bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology, master’s degrees in psychology and human services and a doctorate in higher education leadership.
“My favorite aspect of education has absolutely been the students!” she said in the news release. She enjoyed the teaching experience, she said, and “later, as my role changed to areas such as institutional research and then administration, I had a strong sense of how the decisions we make at the college make a difference for students.”
Strehlow said it has also been rewarding to see technical and liberal arts programs work side-by-side, as well as the Willmar and Hutchinson campus staffs work together. “It really does take the work of ‘a village’ to create an exemplary organization,” she said in the release.
Student services was the other focus of her job. Demographics, characteristics, and expectations of students and parents have changed, leading to adjustments in the services offered and their availability.
During her time at Ridgewater, Strehlow worked with international partnerships that connected Ridgewater to colleges in Denmark, Turkey, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, China and Spain.
Strehlow recently graduated from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and started Strehlow Consulting this year to help executives and others understand how to reach their potential.
After retirement, she plans to spend more time with her husband, Norm, and with family and friends. She will serve on the Vision 2040 Leadership Program and Willmar Area Community Foundation Board.