Big accomplishments deserve our thanks

June 24, 2014


State Board of Higher Ed President Diederich

A column by Board Chair Kirsten Diederich

I would like to publicly thank the three members of the State Board of Higher Education who will be participating in their final Board meeting this week: Duaine Espegard, Dr. Douglas C. Munski and Devin Hoffarth. Your commitment to higher education deserves our thanks, and we appreciate your dedication to the State and the North Dakota University System.

This is also the time of year when the university system does performance reviews, and I think it is appropriate to give a “shout-out” to the leaders of our institutions and share some of the highlights of their year.

Dave Clark, Bismarck State College

Of all things NDUS institutions must be, being responsive to business and industry needs is among the most important. Your partnership with the Dakota Prairie Refinery to accelerate training for refinery process operators is an excellent example of such responsiveness. You can be justly proud of this accomplishment, as it solidifies your “reputation as the National Energy Center of Excellence.” Our compliments to all involved.

Dr. Ken Grosz, Dakota College at Bottineau

DCB has extended its two-year nursing program to Valley City State, where it also has been managing all the remedial classes for VCSU students.

Dr. D.C. Coston, Dickinson State University

In July 2012 the Higher Learning Commission placed DSU “on notice.” The subsequent removal from “on notice” status to fully accredited in October 2013 is a testament to your leadership and your institution’s ability to overcome adversity.

Dr. Doug Darling, Lake Region State College

Venturing into the new areas of precision agriculture and holding a ribbon cutting at a new precision agriculture education facility ensures your institution is addressing the growing workforce needs of our state.

Dr. Gary Hagen, Mayville State University

Not that many years ago, Mayville State was looking at dilapidated facilities, growing debt, unmanageable heating issues, stagnated student numbers, and low employee morale. With a Herculean effort, you’ve overcome each and every challenge. Your self-funded redeveloped heating plant is now saving $.5 million a year; your enrollments are at all-time highs; physical plant across campus is enhanced through renovations, new construction, and demolition; employee morale has soared; and rather than being mired in debt, you now have a cash reserve.

Dr. David Fuller, Minot State University

Strengthening one’s advising, mentoring and counseling services appears to have a tremendous effect on the ability to increase both retention and graduation rates, so your focus on those services through your Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning will undoubtedly have a positive effect on those rates.

Dr. John Richman, North Dakota State College of Science

Your responsiveness to business and industry has become legendary. The multiple capital projects you’ve undertaken and completed – to include demolition of dangerous and unused space – are indicative of your restructuring of the physical requirements for NDSCS. Additionally, your restructuring of campus student services, in a variety of ways, demonstrates that you are working well with your leadership team to ensure that NDSCS is best positioned to meet the workforce education and training needs of this state.

Dr. Dean Bresciani, North Dakota State University

This has been a year of continued growth in scholarship and research, with an 11 percent increase in productivity that puts you ahead of all the research institutions in our region. Rankings relative to technology and intellectual property licensing (13 of 58 and 6 of 22, respectively) are direct evidence of success.

Participation in the statewide designation as one of only six Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) testing sites in the nation is a commendable accomplishment.

The potential inherent in the new Global Institute for Food Security is exciting, and who can forget the Three-peat for Bison Football.

Dr. Robert Kelley, University of North Dakota

Congratulations on your successful “Spirit of North Dakota” campaign. Exceeding your $300 million goal by $25 million is laudable. This permanent endowment will provide excellent support for your students, faculty, staff, programming and other commitments.

Participation in the statewide designation as one of only six Unmanned Aircraft System testing sites in the nation is exciting and your emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and energy-related activities will ensure that your institution remains relevant to the needs of our vibrant, growing state economy.

Dr. Steve Shirley, Valley City State University

Great Plains STEM education Center at VCSU is the right idea for our times and our state. Partnerships that have ensued with industry, business, K-12 and other institutions of higher learning demonstrate the interest and importance of this initiative. You’ve partnered with the ND Council on the Arts to ensure that the liberal arts are not forgotten in the drive to ensure students are receiving adequate education in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. Congratulations on your accomplishment in completing the renovation of the Rhoades Science Center.

Dr. Ray Nadolny, Williston State College

You have been incredibly resourceful in meeting the workforce needs of a booming sector of our state. Not only have you developed new in-demand credit bearing programs, but also your leadership in TrainND Northwest Quadrant is laudable. A newly expanded TrainND facility will help you meet needs even more efficiently and effectively.

Dr. Larry C. Skogen, Interim Chancellor, NDUS

Last but not least, I would like to thank Dr. Skogen for his dedication to the system and for his insight and advice this past year. Dr. Skogen, you certainly have not been a “lame-duck” leader, as critics suggested could happen with someone in an interim position. You took on an incredibly challenging situation, and the university system office and our institutions have benefited from your honest and transparent leadership. You’ve filled key positions with experienced leaders; overseen an unprecedented visit from the Higher Learning Commission; and through multiple communication efforts, you’ve worked tirelessly to build bridges both within and outside the university system. You’ve helped the Board revamp its meetings to not only make them more efficient but also, through technology, make them more accessible and transparent to the public. You’ve helped us jumpstart our strategic planning process and ensure that Board members are getting the orientation and training needed to carry out our responsibilities to the system and to the State.

We have a very good team in place, and as I start my second year as Board Chair, I am enthusiastic about what the future holds for the NDUS, its faculty and staff members at all of our institutions, and the students who are entrusting us with their education.