State Board’s new plan unleashes potential of higher ed

October 10, 2014

State Board of Higher Ed President Diederich

A column by Board Chair Kirsten Diederich

This is North Dakota’s moment. This is our students’ moment. There has never been a better opportunity for them to reach their highest potential than right here, right now, in our great state.

It’s no secret that North Dakota is enjoying a robust economy and strong revenues. After 80 years of population decline, the state is growing and expected to reach 800,000 people by 2020. The 30,000 current job openings in the state are predicted to grow to 80,000 in the next five years. As people move here to fill those jobs, our elementary schools are bulging, and secondary schools are growing. That bubble is expected to start hitting our colleges and universities by 2018.

This is the perfect time to launch a plan that will unleash the potential of higher education in North Dakota. The State Board of Higher Education approved a new strategic plan this month that will bring the North Dakota University System to the forefront of the state’s path to greatness, creating an edge for our students — The NDUS Edge.

Stakeholder feedback

For the past six months, we have been developing a transformational strategic plan for 2015-2020. The planning process included more than 100 individual and group stakeholder interviews, a survey of the state’s Young Professionals Network, the first-ever Twitter chat with NDUS students and an online survey in which 1,674 faculty and staff participated.

The input gave voice to collective concerns and offered guidance for a focused, exciting conversation when the Board, the institutions’ presidents and senior NDUS staff gathered to consider the information and formulate the new strategic plan.

Analysis of the faculty and staff survey results showed that the most commonly used word in was “students.” That’s fitting because students are our future and our purpose for doing what we do. Our new mission and vision statements reflect that focus: “Unleashing potential, Inspiring our future.”

A four-pronged plan

Common themes arose from the discussion and were distilled into four goals that will get us where we want to be by 2020.

  • Deliver degrees that are the best value in the nation.
  • Provide programs people want, where and when they need them.
  • Equip students for success.
  • Maximize the strengths of the unified system.

These goals form the foundation of our strategic plan, the direction set by the Board. Each campus develops initiatives in alignment with the plan.

Measuring progress

The Board will monitor the progress, review the plan on a regular basis and adjust accordingly. The plan is available now on our website, and we will also publicly share our progress through online dashboards that match the metrics in the plan. We asked for your input, and we want you to see how we’re using your ideas.

We can’t lose a single moment during this time of unprecedented opportunity. Working together, we will unleash the potential of higher education in our state. Working together, we will inspire our future. Working together, we are daring to be great. We are creating the edge we need to achieve greatness — the NDUS Edge — for our students, for our institutions, and for our state.