With Fall semester well underway, it’s a great time to take stock of where we are as a system. From the perspective of the State Board of Higher Education, it’s challenging, but also invigorating.
We as a Board are tasked with helping to shape the policy that guides the North Dakota University System and its 11 public colleges and universities, which in turn shape their respective communities and tens of thousands of young minds. Each and every Board member takes that task to heart, and in times of challenge we try to work together to meet the needs of our students and maintain the trust placed in us by the public.
We know that challenge can help us become more educated, and more healthy – as individuals and as a system. So when one of those challenges includes cuts to finances, we do everything we can to ensure that those cuts don’t impact opportunities for student success.
We know that diligence is required on our parts to make sure that happens. The campuses have already taken up the charge of combining and sharing services, and providing more opportunities for united efforts. That is accomplished along multiple lines, from offering collaborative classrooms through distance learning options, to combining staff roles, to putting in place data systems like Predictive Analytic Reporting to help predict when and how students will need help.
We’re also cognizant of how we are striving to always improve. That was reflected in our Board meeting this past week, when we opted to increase our attainment goals. Attainment – or the percentage of North Dakota citizens who have post-secondary education – is a metric being looked at closely by those of us in-state, as well as nationally. We’re working with the Lumina Foundation to move toward increasing our current attainment goal of 60 percent by 2025 to 65 percent. We’re also open to considering the possibility of increasing it to 70 percent by 2030, but as with all things, these goals are accomplished in steps.
Some of those steps have already been put in place through the efforts I mentioned above like collaborative learning and the implementation of Predictive Analytic Reporting. Others will come in time, and can be helped along by ongoing conversations within the system and across the state, such as those happening under the Envision 2030 initiative. Two inclusive discussions have already taken place on Diversity and Energy, and more will come, including those that take into account more specific issues that face our students. Two of those talks – Tomorrow’s Student and The Whole Student – are sure to bring up ways to create a healthier, more focused environment from which our students can increase their own rate of success. Stay tuned to university system updates on when and where those talks – and other Envision 2030 Pillars – will be held.
No matter what, we will keep our noses to the grindstone as we work through challenges, because our singular goal of fostering student success is one that has to continue to be met, no matter what challenges face us as a Board or as a system.