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–Stephen Nesser

President's Council


The President's Council makes important decisions and sets the strategic direction of the College, with input from all staff, faculty and students. The council is comprised of the president, vice presidents, associate vice presidents and the Executive Director of Diversity and Multiculturalism. The group meets monthly.

Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa

avelinoDr. Avelino Mills-Novoa is the interim president of Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He is professor emeritus of Community Psychology at St. Cloud State University, where he also served as interim dean of Undergraduate Studies and department chair. In addition, Avelino served as assistant dean and director of student services for the General College at the University of Minnesota, and as interim associate vice president in multicultural and academic affairs. He has devoted his career in higher education to working toward educational equity and social justice for multicultural populations, including access and opportunity for persons who are socially and economically underrepresented in higher education; gender equity; gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) rights and opportunity; and access and opportunity for people living with disabilities. A first-generation college graduate, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies, and a masters degree and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.


Interim Vice President Chris Rau

Chris RauChris Rau is the interim vice president of Finance and Operations. He joined the College in 2007 and previously served as the director of Finance. He has led the Business Office through a number of successful audits and will continue to develop and monitor the College’s budget process to ensure that the proper resources are allocated across the institution. Chris led a number of system-wide initiatives with his fellow business managers that resulted in the alignment of financial communications across Minnesota State Colleges and Universities metropolitan institutions. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas, a master of business administration from the University of Minnesota and is also a certified public accountant. He concurrently teaches accounting classes at the College.


Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Gail O'Kane

Gail O’Kane is the vice president and chief academic officer of Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Prior to joining MCTC, she served as system director for Education-Industry Partnerships for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system from 2005 to 2011. She went on to serve MCTC as associate vice president for strategy, planning and accountability from 2011 to 2013, and served as interim president of Rochester Community and Technical College from 2013–2014 before returning to MCTC. Gail holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Boston College and a doctorate in neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Troup

Patrick Troup is the interim vice president of Student Affairs providing vision, leadership and strategic direction for all student affairs functions including recruitment, admissions, orientation, student life, multicultural student services, services for students with disabilities, career and job placement services, and TRIO programs. He is also leading efforts to strengthen college readiness among entering students and transform internal support, resources and processes that lead to student retention and graduation. Patrick came to MCTC from the University of Minnesota, where he held the roles of director of retention initiatives in the Office for Equity and Diversity, director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence and associate director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Programs since 2002. 


Associate Vice President Mike Christenson

Mike ChristensonMike Christenson is the associate vice president of strategic partnerships. Mike works to create community, employer and philanthropic partnerships to advance the strategic plan of the College. During his time here, he has raised over $700,000 for instructional equipment, established a partnership with Hennepin County and led a community-based effort to recruit students from Minneapolis. He previously served as executive director of the City of Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development department, as well as the city’s director of economic policy and development. During his tenure at the City of Minneapolis, Mike worked with the mayor and city council to close the city’s unemployment gap. He also led economic development efforts in North Minneapolis and negotiated development agreements at the Midtown Global Market, Children’s Hospitals, Coloplast, Riverside Plaza and the Cowles Center. He has worked closely with former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak in growing the Minneapolis Promise. Mike holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from St. Olaf College and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota.


Executive Director of Diversity and Multiculturalism Whitney Harris

Whitney Harris - MCTCDr. Whitney Harris leads the MCTC equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. Formerly the executive director of diversity and multiculturalism for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, his responsibilities at MCTC include managing the Educational Equity Task Force, developing a menu of diversity training and guiding changes in college policies, practices and culture that support MCTC's goal of achieving educational equity. While assisting the college, he will continue to provide counsel to MnSCU Chancellor Rosenstone on issues of diversity and equity. Prior to working with MnSCU, he served as the director of diversity and affirmative action at Eastern Michigan University, held several positions at McNeese State University in Louisiana and worked as instructor, vice principal and principal of College Bonneau in Cameroon.



Director of Human Resources and Legal Affairs Dianna Cusick

dianna-cusickDianna Cusick has served as director of Legal Affairs at MCTC from 1996 until the present. In this position, she primarily manages the areas of education and employment compliance, affirmative action and equal opportunity. In July 2014, she also became the chief Human Resources officer. Prior to joining MCTC, she practiced law at the law firm of Foley and Mansfield and also worked as an attorney at West Publishing Company. Dianna graduated with honors from William Mitchell College of Law in 1993 with a Juris Doctorate, and earned her bachelor degree from the College of St. Catherine.




Director of Marketing and Communications Dawn Skelly

Dawn Skelly, MCTCDawn Skelly, director of marketing and communications, leads the College's internal and external advertising, marketing and communication strategies, projects and staff in support of the College's strategic priorities. She serves as the college media spokesperson and collaborates with college leadership on strategic initiatives. Dawn has led strategic communications projects for clients and organizations for the past 25 years, working across sector in a variety of roles. Prior to joining MCTC, Dawn served as the communications director for the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Dawn holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and sociology with a minor in art history from UW—River Falls and a Master of Arts in public affairs with an emphasis in educational leadership from the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She also received her accreditation in public relations from the Public Relations Society of America.

MCTC Unites Against Violence

Teachers and students at Minneapolis Community and Technical College plan to stand up against violence Thursday. Learn more in this KARE 11 story.

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