A rise in the number of students enrolled in Construction Management has led to the addition of two new faculty members. The increase in enrollment is both mirrored and fueled by the growth of the Minnesota construction industry.
“We went from graduating 12 students last spring to anticipating graduating 45 this spring,” said Construction Management Program Manager Heather Gay. “Construction has really come back…with a vengeance you even might say.”
Student growth brings expert faculty to campus
In an effort to accommodate the high number of interested students and the increase in job openings, Gay–who helped launch the Construction Management Bachelor’s Degree in 2012–hired Jon Hassenfritz and Rick Larrabee to join her team.
Hassenfritz graduated from Dunwoody with an associate’s degree in Architectural Drafting & Estimating in 2007. After graduation, Hassenfritz joined several remodeling companies where he worked as a drafter, estimator, project manager, and salesman. Despite being new to teaching, Hassenfritz says that his recent career move into higher education has been “a very positive change.”
“I wanted to share my knowledge and help educate the future of the industry that I love,” said Hassenfritz. “I have always wanted to teach, and Dunwoody and this program are a great fit.”
Larrabee, who founded Master Builders–a general contracting business specializing in residential and light commercial construction, is also enjoying his new position.
“I appreciate the student demographics here at Dunwoody. There is a greater percentage of non-traditional students as well as students who already have construction experience. Both groups are serious about their education and are excited to be in your class, which makes teaching much more enjoyable,” he said.
Larrabee brings with him many years of teaching experience. He previously taught Construction Management at UW-Stout and carpentry at Chippewa Valley Technical College. Larrabee says he decided to teach at Dunwoody because he knew the College valued “industry experience and hands-on, applied learning.”
New faculty members help improve residential construction curriculum
Both Larrabee and Hassenfritz started earlier this year and are currently full-time Construction Project Management faculty members. Since then, the Construction Management team has made a number of enhancements to the program, including improvements to the residential construction curriculum. The Construction Management team believes that these improvements will allow program graduates to enter the workforce with more career paths and better job opportunities.
“It’s what makes our program so unique,” Gay said. “With a degree in Construction Management, you can be a Project Manager, Field Engineer, Sales Manager, etc. Sometimes degrees can be so specialized you really only have one path–that’s not the case for our graduates.”
Larrabee also suspects the high need for Construction Management graduates will not falter anytime soon. “The Department of Labor projects shortages of qualified Construction Managers and skilled workers for the next several years, making jobs in the construction industry even more appealing to students making career choices,” he said. “It really is a great time for our students to be graduating from our Construction Management programs.”
Learn more about Construction Management
Dunwoody Construction Management is a stackable bachelor’s degree program. Students start by earning a certificate or an associate’s degree from Dunwoody’s two-year Construction Project Management program. Interested applicants—as well as transfer students—can then earn their bachelor’s degree in Construction Management after an additional two years of study.
Graduates of the Construction Management program take on a wide array of professional roles including project managers, construction managers, estimators, drafters, business leaders and entrepreneurs. The average annual salary for Construction Managers in the state of Minnesota is $90,340*.
* Based on May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for the state of Minnesota published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov.