For four decades one face familiar to many has served faithfully at the Dakota College at Bottineau, recruiting students, administering policies, aiding his DCB team and family, and doing everything he could to ensure campus-wide successes.
And now, Dr. Ken Grosz, the Campus Dean at DCB will be retiring after 15 years in leadership at the college and four decades serving the community.
Originally graduating from Kulm, North Dakota, Grosz holds a B.S. in Psychology and History from the University of Jamestown, his M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from North Dakota State University, and his Ph. D. in Higher Ed Administration from the University of South Dakota. The wealth of education credentials has served him well at DCB since he first started there in 1975.
After college, his first teaching role was at Walhalla Public Schools. Four years later he transitioned to DCB, where he’s been ever since. He attributed his life-long focus on education to his youth.
“My mother was an elementary school teacher for nearly 40 years,” Grosz said. “As a result I grew up in that environment spending countless hours at school. So, it seems like it was a natural transition for both my brother and me.”
Now, with 44 years of his own put into the education world – a full 40 of them at DCB – Grosz looked back with much fondness for his decades in higher education. “I’ve always thought of DCB as a special place that has all of the attributes a vibrant community college ought to have,” he stated. “Given that as the years fly by, those positive qualities and characteristics impressed me more and more, I couldn’t think of a career or location that I would enjoy as much as DCB.”
Grosz got his start at DCB when it was still referred to as NDSU-Bottineau, as an admissions counselor/recruiter in 1975. Later, he became the college’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs/Dean of Students before he found himself in what he referred to as the “fortunate” position of being selected as the Campus Dean in May of 2001, where he’s been ever since.
Through it all, DCB has remained a special school for one big reason, Grosz maintained.
“It’s the people who make any organization special, and the people at DCB (students, faculty, and staff) are the best,” Grosz said. “The same is true for the people in the community of Bottineau.”
Throughout all that time, he said it’s been the people who kept up with the changes necessary to keep the college up-to-date, both in terms of facilities and curriculum. Grosz noted that educators at DCB have kept their school successful in a shifting landscape because they understand technology and its many applications in and out of the classroom, and through the use of developmental coursework to improve student success, retention, and persistence to graduation.
Shifts in how things were done through the years has kept the school competitive thanks to a team effort that Grosz credits his college and community for aiding.
“There have been many shifts in policy throughout my years at DCB,” he said. “I find that the phrase ‘hand-in-hand’ is appropriate when describing that situation. The heavy lifting has been done by faculty and staff.”
He touched on a few highlights of those shifts in policy and curriculum, including comprehensive nursing and allied health curriculums; a strong photography program now in its second year; reclaiming the school’s 108-year-old ‘school of forestry’ mission by developing a nature, technology, and beyond focus; becoming an honor program; beginning 1st year experience, 1st year activities, and 1st year sequence programs; and having new programming pushes in aquaponics with the International Peace Garden, in health information management, and community ambulance.
Grosz added that retention and advising initiatives; the campus read program; PHI THETA KAPA honor society; the addition of varsity football and softball; and infrastructural improvements and new construction including $2.7 million addition to Thatcher and a $1.1 million upgrade of the Nelson Science Center helped punctuate those achievements.
He said he was particularly proud of changes implemented by his colleagues.
“The continuation of the DCB Foundation, Logroller, and Alumni Association is an ever-growing support system for the college,” Grosz said, before touching on further accomplishments: “The vigorous faculty and staff when changes had to be made in a hurry for the benefit of the institution. The implementation of a higher education funding formula that took into consideration ‘economy of scale’ in regards to the smaller institutions’ budgets. A homecoming weekend that was made successful through community college collaboration. The recognition by the SBHE and the citizens of North Dakota that there is an important role for each college or university in the 11 members that make up NDUS.”
Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen stated that Grosz has been a stalwart “Jack” for 40 years. “Dakota College of Bottineau, the community of Bottineau and the surrounding area, the whole university system, and the entire state are indebted to Ken for his service and, in the last couple of decades, his steady hand on the helm of that institution,” Skogen said. “Ken and Kathleen will be missed, but we wish them well on this new chapter of their lives.”
Minot State University President Steve Shirley lauded Grosz’s accomplishments and leadership through the four decades.
“Dr. Ken Grosz has had a terrific career spanning 40 years at Dakota College at Bottineau,” Shirley said. “He has been a tireless advocate on behalf of DCB and DCB students, and his leadership, dedication, and service, to the DCB campus has been so appreciated. We thank Dr. Grosz for all his wonderful efforts on behalf of this campus, and convey a hearty congratulations to him and Kathleen along with best wishes in retirement. Unquestionably, Ken is leaving big shoes to fill!”
Forty years in higher education provided quite a resume of favorite moments, including ongoing successes of graduates who went on to many accomplishments, the collegiality of faculty and staff in regard to setting goals and accomplishing them, having four DCB students chosen as the top N.D. Community College Scholars, and in being on the stage as his two children received their Dakota College at Bottineau diplomas.
He said that the decision to retire after all that wasn’t easy.
“It was a very difficult decision and there wasn’t any one thing that prompted it,” he said. “I love my job and fear I will have a hard time adjusting to not working at DCB. I just have a feeling that the timing is right for me.”
He added that his time would be spent well, with children and grandchildren. He noted that he’d like to do some traveling, reading, and “having time to do what I find interesting.”
“I would like to thank the state, the SBHE, the NDUS office, my colleagues at the other colleges and universities, and my DCB colleagues for the opportunities that I have been provided during my time here at DCB, and most of all, I would like to thank my family for their support and understanding they have given me,” Grosz concluded.
Now, DCB and Minot State University will begin the search process to find who will be the next dean to fill Grosz’ very experienced shoes.