The Twin Ports has welcomed home more than 20,000 college students in the past couple of weeks. They came from near and far, representing nearly every country in the world and all 50 states, bringing with them a wide range of cultures and perspectives that enriches our communities and benefits us all.

It's an exciting time of year for the five area colleges and universities, much like a family reunion complete with celebrations, new and renewed relationships, and, of course, plenty of food, music and fun.

These students bring something special with them, something magical that makes the Twin Ports what it is: a beautiful, vibrant, diverse community unlike any other. They bring energy, optimism, ideas, creativity, dreams, talent, skills, intelligence, and an undying belief that they can and will make the world a better place in whatever career path they choose.

They are an unbelievable resource and gift, and they're right here, in the place we call home. What a treasure.

During the academic year, our students are involved in a myriad of community-service and academic-service learning opportunities, helping to make our community a better place to live. Through opportunities like these, students develop stronger ties to our community, which can be a factor in their choosing where the next phases of their lives will take place after graduation.

Students who earn their degrees through the innovative education, training, and professional development they receive at our institutions contribute to a qualified workforce throughout the Northland. In many cases, they have an impact upon graduation, ensuring the growth and stability of our region.

The Twin Ports greatly benefits from the cultural enrichment our colleges and universities provide. Many top entertainers choose to make a stop in Duluth or Superior in part because of our college-student population and the strong support in the community. On campus, our students get the opportunity to show their talents in an array of musical and theatrical performances. Artistic exhibits from our students can be found both on campus and locations throughout the Duluth and Superior community. When it comes to athletics, few things can top the excitement of cheering on a collegiate team, whether it's the Bulldogs, IceHawks, Saints, or Yellowjackets.

And we cannot overlook the economic impact our students provide to the community. They contribute dollars to our local economy, from purchasing furniture, electronics, and other household items on move-in day to late-night pizza as they pull all-nighters during finals. As summer has turned to fall, these students provide the region with their patronage following the end of peak tourist season.

With these and so many more reasons to embrace our 20,000-plus new Twin Ports family members, we hope you will join us in saying, "Welcome home, students! We're so glad you're here."


This commentary was jointly produced by University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor Lendley (Lynn) Black, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Vice President of Academic Affairs and Superior Campus Administrator Bonny Ball Copenhaver, College of St. Scholastica President Colette Geary, Lake Superior College President Patrick Johns, and University of Wisconsin-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter.