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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, associate vice presidents and the Executive Director of Diversity and Multiculturalism. The group meets weekly.

President Sharon Pierce

President Sharon Pierce at Minneapolis College

Dr. Sharon Pierce is leading the efforts at Minneapolis College to provide transformative student experiences. Sharon, who began serving as president in July 2016, embodies the institution’s Mission, Vision and Values.

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Sharon guides the President's Council in making important decisions and setting the strategic direction of the College with input from stakeholders on and off campus. She can be seen frequently around campus sporting Minneapolis College’s colors and engaging with students, staff and faculty. Within her first two years leading the College, Sharon has developed strong partnerships with many of its stakeholders including area businesses, the Minneapolis Public School District, higher education and workforce agencies as well as colleagues from across the 54 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses.

Through these relationships, Sharon has become a champion for helping students achieve their educational goals by leading efforts to eliminate disparities and increase student persistence and completion. She is a passionate advocate for providing accessible and high-quality college experiences for underserved students to meet the region’s education, workforce and talent needs. Sharon has dedicated her career in urban education to advancing the role of community and technical colleges in reducing disparities allowing under-represented students to achieve academic success.

Sharon previously served Howard Community College in several capacities including vice president for Academic Affairs, chairperson of the Health Sciences Division, director of the Nursing Education Program and Nursing course leader. As a faculty member, she earned the academic rank of Professor of Nursing. Prior to her career in higher education, Sharon worked as a clinical nurse for 12 years and was appointed by the governor of Maryland to serve on the state’s Board of Nursing. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland and her doctorate degree in Urban Education from Morgan State University.

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Chief of Staff & Chief Communications Officer Deanna Sheely

Deanna Sheely at Minneapolis College

In her dual role as Chief of Staff and Chief Communications Officer at Minneapolis College, Deanna’s experience achieving organizational alignment and creating effective marketing and communication strategies enhances awareness about the institution’s mission to provide access to the transformative power of education. Deanna works closely with the President’s Council to strategize and implement the College’s initiatives with a focus on continuous improvement.

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Known for her commitment to engagement and transparency, Deanna guides the operational affairs of the President’s Office and is responsible for Marketing Communications. Her enthusiasm for sharing stories about the life-changing transformations of students, staff and faculty is evident in the College’s website, social media presence, video productions and printed publications. Her journalistic approach of asking thought-provoking questions sparks innovative thinking and cohesiveness.

Since joining Minneapolis College in 2017, Deanna has fostered development of the institution’s five-year strategic plan with an integrated planning process and an inclusive policy review process. She led a comprehensive branding study to identify the College’s unique value to the students it serves and launched a new brand strategy designed to support its strategic priorities.

Deanna earned her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University with an emphasis in Public Relations and Advertising and a minor in Graphic Design. From Suomi (Finlandia) College, she earned an associate’s degree in Marketing. Her expertise developing goal-oriented, integrated marketing communications strategies, in the public and private sectors, has been recognized at state and national levels as best practices. Through her career and volunteerism, Deanna’s public service has revolved around community-based organizations that support a balance of economic and environmental sustainability while meeting the community’s humanitarian needs.

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Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Gail O'Kane

Gail O'Kane at Minneapolis College

Dr. Gail O'Kane worked for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system from 2005 to 2011. She went on to serve Minneapolis College 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 Minneapolis College. Gail holds a bachelor's degree in ...

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political science from Boston College and a doctorate in neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Troup

Patrick Troup at Minneapolis College

Patrick Troup is the 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 ...

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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.

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Vice President of Finance and Operations Chris Rau

VP Finance Chris Rau at Minneapolis College

Since 2015 when he began leading the Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s finance and operations areas, Chris Rau has helped drastically improve the institution’s fund balance and overall financial position. With a strong commitment to financial sustainability, Chris (more commonly referred to as “Rau”) approaches his work by building transparent, equitable processes that ...

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allocate funding to areas supporting student success. He has championed for resources to advance the College’s progressive path toward cultural fluency.

As a former student of the Humanities and with his strong belief in the role of higher education in the betterment of society, he has the unique ability to identify opportunities that achieve results for students while maintaining fiscal prudency. With his leadership, academic institutions across the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have improved their students’ experience registering for classes by creating an autoreply solution. In addition, Rau led a system-wide initiative modifying policies to increase students’ access to course materials at lower costs.

The Facilities Initiative Planning Subcommittee Chris developed encourages employees to submit requests to improve campus facilities. This empowers experts from all areas of the campus to identify and elevate suggested improvements. He’s known among his colleagues as always being willing to listen to new ideas and for his sense of humor that promotes collaboration and thoughtful decision-making.

A licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chris served as the College’s Director of Finance and Accounting Manager and taught Accounting courses at Minneapolis College. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas and completed his master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Minnesota.

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Chief Information Officer Tiffni Deeb

CIO Tiffni Deeb at Minneapolis College Tiffni Deeb began her career with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (Minnesota State) system in 1998. Her background includes computer networking, web development, project and portfolio management and information technology leadership. Tiffni came to Minneapolis College in 2012 as director of technical services, and was named chief information officer in 2015.

Chief Human Resources Officer Dianna Cusick

CHRO Dianna Cusick at Minneapolis College

As Chief Human Resources Officer, Dianna Cusick is responsible for developing and executing human resources strategies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Her leadership has paved the way for high integrity and innovation in talent management, employee engagement, change management, organizational development, performance management and labor relations.

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Cusick’s commitment to equity and inclusion, affirmative action and equal opportunity initiatives has helped create a forward-thinking and student-focused workforce. She has devoted more than 20 years of her career to helping Minneapolis College achieve its mission to provide students access to the transformative power of education.

In 2017, Cusick received the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Human Resources All Star Award for her work in leading transformational hiring practices. The award recognizes Cusick’s collaborative efforts across the campus as well as across the Minnesota State system to design and implement best practices in hiring. Public and private sector organizations across the state have invited her to speak about transformational hiring practices.

A licensed attorney, Cusick served as the College’s Director of Legal Affairs managing all aspects of legal compliance. She was also a faculty member at Minneapolis College and Hamline University teaching Employment, Labor and Constitutional Law. Prior to joining Minneapolis College, she was a practicing attorney with the firm of Foley and Mansfield and worked in the legal division of West Publishing Company. She graduated cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law and the College of St. Catherine and is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the National College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

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Chief Diversity Officer Jay Williams

Jay Williams

Under Dr. Jay Williams’ leadership, Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s Equity and Inclusion Division is transforming the institution’s approach to equity work. Dr. Jay (typically seen sporting a black hat) is guiding the College’s efforts to embed equity consciousness into its practices, procedures, policies and planning. His cultural fluency training programs and Sociology...

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plus Anthropology courses provide a valuable pipeline into insights from students and employees that inform this work.

With a career built on recruiting, supporting and empowering under-served students, Dr. Jay has successfully designed youth enrichment and leadership programs, secured financial support for undocumented students and addressed students’ housing and hunger issues. His passion to increase access to higher education and inspire hope in at-risk youth has been instrumental at Minneapolis College as well as at Princeton University, the National School and Community Corps, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and Carole Robertson Center for Learning and on Chicago’s West side. In 1993, his community work earned him the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Youth Outreach.

Whenever he’s out and about, Dr. Jay is like a magnet for students due to his well-known commitment to always make time for them. Like his work, Dr. Jay’s eclectic personal interests support vastly diverse pursuits such as serving on the Board of Directors for the American Indian Center in Chicago, at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival and as a coach for junior high school robotics teams.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with honors at Princeton University, Dr. Jay completed his master’s and doctoral work at the University of Chicago. He frequently presents his research on ethnic identity development at academic conferences citing his highest goal as ensuring academic achievement is possible for all.

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4 Reasons for High School Graduates to Turn to Community College

USNews Image of Students at Computers

"Community colleges offer a lot of flexibility for students who need to balance more than academics."

Discover the four reasons high school graduates may want to consider community college in this US News article.

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