Confidence in the New Year

December 11, 2015

Neset mugshot

State Board of Higher Education Chair Kathleen Neset talks about confidence in the system coming into the New Year.

When milestones arrive they can usually be considered a good time to reflect on how previous accomplishments and challenges led to them. As our students closed out another semester and we’re closing in on the end to another year, I find that it’s a good time to do just that.

In the past year there have been numerous topics that the State Board of Higher Education and the North Dakota University System have addressed, and there are more on the way. These topics have been brought to our attention from campus representatives, from legislators and from community members, and all have one singular goal in mind: to help continue shaping us into the best university system that we can be. The work will continue.

Already, work is underway in standardizing processes throughout the university system through about two dozen projects. Campus leadership is adding to that forward progress and the presidents have identified nearly 100 goals that all are working toward to create more efficiencies of process, maximize shared services, limit redundancies, refine governance models, contain costs, increase retention, and more.

As they move forward, each process toward standardization and each objective met will strengthen both the system and its 11 individual colleges and universities. That will help solidify the foundations for education that are being used by staff and faculty to create and shape the high-quality academic programs our students deserve.

Recently, the Board moved forward with some other actions that I think will be of benefit to the state and the university system next year and beyond. One of those items concerned a new offering that deals with teaching credentials. We’re hopeful that the new Master of Arts in Teaching offered at Dickinson State University, Mayville State University and Valley City State University will help offer another path forward to those education-minded individuals who would like to earn teaching credentials. We’re confident that it will be one step to help address the current teacher shortage facing the state.

The Board also appointed former N.D. Governor and former Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer as the interim president for the University of North Dakota. We’re confident in Schafer’s capability to lead and manage this world-class research university, and are hopeful in the things his interim service will bring to the campus.

Despite some criticisms that may exist, I feel that there is a common undercurrent of positivity that links all these topics, and that speaks to the confidence. That’s not just the confidence I have in the Board, but the confidence I have in the administration, staff and faculty to continue providing the highest-quality environment for our students. And I believe it’s reflective of the confidence that our students themselves have in the path they’ve picked for themselves, right here and now throughout our great system.

I believe that each person is always learning. It’s with confidence that I say the Board has heard you and is taking those perspectives as lessons to apply now and in 2016 to help bring success to all those involved in the university system.

Our mission here with the system and the Board is student success. If we accomplish that by fostering the different colleges and universities, and their faculty and staff, then we meet the mission. Our foremost aim is the success of our students.

Happy holidays, and have a happy New Year!