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A Leader in Her Field, Tiffni Went Back for Her Bachelor’s Degree

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Tiffni Deeb, MCTC deputy CIOA Rocky Start

When Tiffni Deeb started college at age 18, her heart wasn’t in it. After two weeks, she dropped out of St. Cloud State University, and at age 19 her first child was born.

But Tiffni has never lacked for energy. Her first job was as a clerk typist. “I didn’t know how to type,” Tiffni explained, laughing. She started by pecking at the keyboard, and eventually her typing improved. Tiffni asked her supervisor if she could use the computer in the corner. “My supervisor responded by saying ‘Sure, but to be honest, we don’t know what that thing does.’”

Moving Up

Her enthusiasm fueled her career. “I was a pest. I offered to do all sorts of little projects, and when I finished my coworkers had to scramble to give me a new task,” she said. Eventually she was given the opportunity to attend a five-day networking training, and from there her career bloomed.

As computers evolved and the internet made its entry into homes, Tiffni moved into web development, working first at Century College as a web developer and webmaster and later at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system office in Downtown St. Paul. There, she did project and portfolio management with vice chancellors and chief information officers (CIOs) at the 31 MnSCU colleges and universities.

“There are so many people along the way who have inspired and supported me,” said Tiffni. “I am where I am due to that amazing support.”

In 2012 Tiffni came to Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) as the director of technical services. One year later the CIO fell ill, and—true to her style—she stepped forward to tackle a new project.

“Of the 31 colleges and universities in MnSCU, I was one of only a handful of female CIOs,” said Tiffni. “It can be hard to be the only woman in a room full of men. Everyone is supportive in their own ways, but when you feel like the minority in the room, you feel pressure to perform.”

Removing the Last Barrier

Tiffni had been feeling that pressure for some time. “More than 10 years ago I wondered whether becoming a CIO was a step I would ever be able to take,” she said. “I doubted myself. I was a woman without a degree—was I capable of it? Was I smart enough?”

Doubt couldn’t keep her from pursuing success. “I decided I didn’t want a door standing in my way,” she said. “If lacking a degree was my barrier, I was going to remove that barrier. I didn’t want to hear a single excuse from hiring managers.”

Tiffni took her first online class in 2001. She received her associate degree from Minnesota West Community and Technical College and later transferred to Metro State. “My education has helped me tremendously, especially with leadership skills,” she said. Her capstone class was full of non-traditional students like herself. “I learned that you can have a full career and work toward a degree at the same time. The people in my classes helped me see what I have and what I don’t have, and gave me context.”

Excelling

During her year as MCTC’s acting CIO, Tiffni had her work cut out for her. She oversaw the implementation of several new technology platforms which required converting credentials for every student and employee at the College—approximately 15,000 people. “When I think too much about hurdles, it can get overwhelming,” she said. “But I’ve learned that in order to make effective decisions, you have to be patient, and you have to listen. We were patient, we researched before we acted and our projects were successful.”

Last year—while in her role as the College’s acting CIO—Tiffni finished her bachelor’s degree at Metro State. “At first I didn’t want to attend the graduation ceremony and walk across the stage, but my family had been supporting me throughout it all and convinced me to go,” she said.

“I became both an acting CIO and a grandmother before I received my bachelor’s degree,” she said.
Tiffni’s interim role as acting CIO has since ended, and she has assumed the position of deputy CIO at MCTC. Her enthusiasm and dedication have built the foundation of her life journeys, and her achievements stand as shining examples of motivation and leadership. “I couldn’t have done what I’ve done without the support of so many amazing people,” she said. “When the barriers seem overwhelming, I remind myself that 80 percent is better than zero percent. The key for us all is to be patient, and tell ourselves what we will do—rather than what we won’t do.”

St. Paul Rondo Neighborhood Honors MCTC Law Enforcement Faculty Debbie Montgomery

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments
Debbie Montgomery

Debbie Montgomery holds a copy of a 1976 Pioneer Press story about her involvement on the St. Paul Police Force.

MCTC Law Enforcement Faculty Debbie Montgomery received a unique honor this week: The City of St. Paul named a stretch of Marshall Avenue, in the city’s historic Rondo neighborhood, after her. Read the story from the Pioneer Press here.

St. Paul honors Debbie Montgomery with street segment

The segment of Marshall Avenue between Lexington Parkway and Western Avenue soon will bear the name of a former St. Paul City Council member who grew up during the civil rights era and became the first female officer in the St. Paul Police Department.

On Wednesday, the council voted to approve a resolution co-naming the avenue after Debbie Gilbreath Montgomery. Council member Dai Thao, who sponsored the resolution, called her a “true pioneer of courage and leadership for the city of St. Paul.”

Montgomery, who attended the vote, expressed gratitude for the new street name in her honor and encouraged city leaders to embrace the growing diversity within St. Paul as important decisions are made.

“Our city is changing,” Montgomery told the council. “We have to be open. … We have to make sure that everyone is at the table — at the table when the initial discussions happen, not afterward.”

According to Dai Thao’s resolution, Montgomery was born in St. Paul’s historically black Rondo neighborhood in 1946, 12 years before the construction of Interstate 94 razed her home and cleaved the neighborhood in two.

In the late 1950s, she served as president of the St. Paul NAACP youth group, and at age 17 became the youngest person ever elected to the NAACP’s national board of directors.

The position allowed her an opportunity to rub elbows with Vice President Hubert Humphrey and march on Washington, D.C., in 1963 with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Two years later, she participated in a historic civil rights march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala.

Montgomery, who graduated from St. Paul’s Central High School, went on to earn two master’s degrees in urban planning and police administration. She became the first female police officer in the St. Paul Police Department in 1975, rising up the ranks from sergeant to senior commander.

Council member Dan Bostrom, a former St. Paul police sergeant, recalled serving alongside Montgomery on the force. He told the council not to be fooled by her calm demeanor, and remembered a time when she knocked a belligerent suspect unconscious.

“When you run into a bunch of drunks during St. Patrick’s Day, yeah, we’re talking about Jekyll and Hyde here,” said Bostrom, to widespread laughter.

Montgomery served as assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety from 1991 to 1998 and was elected to the Ward 1 seat on the city council in 2004. She was unseated by Melvin Carter in the November 2007 election.

In 2008, she became an adjunct professor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Montgomery was one of seven candidates who ran for the open Ward 1 seat on the council in November 2013. She finished in fourth place, with Dai Thao winning the seat.

MCTC Names Patrick Troup Interim VP of Student Affairs

Posted on: November 4th, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

patricktroup-200Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) announces the appointment of Patrick Troup as its interim vice president of student affairs. Troup comes to the college from the University of Minnesota, where he has 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. Troup will begin his duties at MCTC Nov. 3.

In his new role at MCTC, Troup will oversee the planning, operation and administration of the College’s student affairs division. He will lead efforts to strengthen college readiness among entering students and transform internal support, resources and processes that lead to student retention and graduation. Troup led similar efforts during his time at the U of M, and has published and presented nationally on issues related to support services for students of color, peer-assisted learning and all-male living-learning communities of color.

As the interim vice president of student affairs, Troup will provide 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 at one of the state’s largest, urban two-year colleges. “I am delighted that Patrick has agreed to join our College to lead efforts in providing the care and support that our students need to achieve their dreams,” said Avelino Mills-Novoa, interim president. “He brings the long-range planning and enrollment management skills that are needed to lead this division of the College.”

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join this wonderful institution,” said Troup. “Much of my education and professional life has been dedicated to access, equity and multiculturalism, as well as student development within higher education. Higher education is the primary pathway for individuals to participate fully in our society and empowers individuals who historically have been relegated to the margins. I am looking forward to collaborating with everyone to promote the success and development of MCTC students.”

Dr. Avelino Mills-Novoa Named Interim President of MCTC

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Dr. Avelino Mills-NovoaThe Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) named Avelino Mills-Novoa to serve as the interim president for Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC).

“Dr. Mills-Novoa understands the challenges and opportunities that MCTC faces and I deeply appreciate his willingness to serve as interim president,” said Chancellor Steven Rosenstone. “He will work collaboratively with students, faculty, staff, and community leaders to address the college’s challenges and position MCTC in the search for its next president.”

Mills-Novoa is vice president of Student Affairs at MCTC and professor emeritus of Community Psychology at St. Cloud State University. He served as assistant dean and director of student services for the General College, as interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies, and as interim associate vice president in multicultural and academic affairs at the University of Minnesota. 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 in Latin American studies, and a masters and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Mills-Novoa succeeds Phil Davis who has served as president since 1998 and was recently appointed the associate vice chancellor serving as the managing director of the MnSCU Campus Service Cooperative.

Chancellor Rosenstone to Visit MCTC June 4

Posted on: June 3rd, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Chancellor Steven Rosenstone will visit MCTC to discuss the presidential transition with students, faculty, staff and community leaders. The chancellor would like to hear from you about the qualities critical to the success of the interim president and the continued success of MCTC.

Presidential Transition Open Forums with Chancellor Rosenstone
Wednesday, June 4
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Helland Center Multi-purpose Room (H.1002)

3–3:30 p.m.     Students
3:30–4 p.m.     Staff
4–4:30 p.m.     Faculty
4:30–5 p.m.     External Community

If you are unable to attend this session, the Chancellor welcomes comments to be sent to him at chancellor@so.mnscu.edu.

Read the full letter from Chancellor Rosenstone.