Monthly Archives: January 2014

Committed to Doing the Right Thing

State Board of Higher Ed President DiederichBy Kirsten Diederich, President

The State Board of Higher Education held a special meeting Jan. 17 to discuss Pathways to Student Success, a plan that has become somewhat controversial. It was a healthy discussion, allowing all Board members to express their opinions about the North Dakota University System moving forward with this plan to help students reach their educational goals.

There was complete agreement among Board members about our commitment to student success. It was wonderful to hear the passion expressed as each member talked about their hopes and dreams for the future of higher education. However, there appears to be numerous interpretations about the goals of the plan and how it should be implemented. In addition, thought leaders outside the Board appear split: some believe the plan is unnecessary and that its very name leaves them cold; while others have come out solidly in favor of the plan’s direction.

There is no doubt that our students, our citizens and the state will benefit if we increase graduation and retention rates and decrease remediation rates. From a strictly practical standpoint, that will help students reach their goals more quickly and start their careers with less student debt. But I also think that we need to recognize the uniqueness of how each institution serves students and ensure that we thoughtfully include our K-12 colleagues in developing the implementation plan.

I believe that part of the solution to our dilemma rests in another task force that is at work. The Roles and Responsibilities Task Force is taking a fresh look at guidelines that were developed several years ago that define the responsibilities of the Board and the responsibilities of university system leaders. This is a valuable exercise for us to go through because we have much to accomplish and we’d like to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

I am confident that we will soon have a win-win strategy in hand that will satisfy all of our stakeholders. At the conclusion of our discussion on Jan. 17, Board member Grant Shaft agreed to craft a motion that captures the essence of the Board’s commitment to student success, while allowing improvements to be made in the plan. He will present the motion at our Jan. 30 meeting, and I anticipate that while we may have more lively discussion, we will leave that meeting knowing that we have worked together to do the right thing for the future of our students and North Dakota.

Board Meeting Videos Streamed Live Online

Video Archive Screenshot CroppedCan’t make it to the meeting? You can now watch the action live at In the interest of transparency and to allow anyone who is interested to watch the meetings, all in-person board meetings from now on will be streamed live through the North Dakota University System website.

Recordings of past board meetings will also be posted online as soon as they are available. The video archive can be found here.




 NDUS Launches New Website to Help Students Choose a College or University

NDChoose Screen ShotThis month, the North Dakota University System (NDUS) launched, a website dedicated to helping students find the North Dakota college or university that clicks with them. Using cutting edge technology, meets students where they already are – online – and provides them with interactive tools to make choosing a college easier.

Designed using parallax scrolling techniques, takes students and their parents from making the choice to go to college all the way through securing housing once they’re enrolled.

“This new site offers an easy way for students and parents to learn more about what our colleges and universities have to offer,” said Interim Chancellor Larry C. Skogen. “By making this information interactive and easily accessible online, we are able to provide a valuable addition to the recruiting tools already available to our institutions.”

The home page includes information on the advantages of pursuing higher education and the opportunities available to students in North Dakota. Click the ‘Programs’ tab on to see a full program listing of all the degrees offered by NDUS colleges and universities with direct links to the institutions that offer the desired program.

By clicking the ‘Colleges’ tab on the top, visitors are taken to pages highlighting each of the NDUS’s 11 colleges and universities. Each page serves as a snapshot of the college experience at these institutions complete with campus statistics, testimonials, videos and direct contact information for admissions, housing, financial aid and more. To streamline the process even more, just click the ‘Apply Online’ button on each college page to be directed straight to their online application or choose ‘Academic Programs’ for a full listing of the programs that institution offers. is the most recent installment in the Project Vital Link campaign. Project Vital Link was launched by the State Board of Higher Education in November 2002 in an effort to attract more high school students to North Dakota University System colleges and universities. This initiative was developed to provide that “vital link” between high school and higher education for ND students in conjunction with campus recruiting efforts. All high school juniors and seniors in North Dakota, as well as high school counselors in North Dakota and surrounding states, receive a postcard with a qr code directing them to this mobile- and tablet-friendly website. Supplemental print pieces are also sent to eighth graders and high school sophomores (and their counselors) with age appropriate content.

“It’s important to get students thinking about college, even before high school,” said Julie Kaspari, K-12 counselor at Milnor Public School. “That’s why I think this program, and the eighth-grade piece especially, is such a great resource for our students and our schools.”

The North Dakota University System is committed to helping students succeed in higher education and the workforce. offers an easy way for potential students to learn more about the opportunities available in North Dakota and make an informed choice regarding which college or university clicks with them.



Murray Sagsveen Joins NDUS Senior Staff

Murray Sagsveen Employee PortraitMurray Sagsveen was recently named Chief of Staff, Ethics Officer and Director of Legal Services for NDUS. He began his duties in November 2013.

Sagsveen has a long history in state government and law including 17 years in private practice. During his years in private practice, his clients included state agencies and political subdivisions. He also served as general counsel to multiple medical associations during that time, when he drafted legislation on complex legal-medical issues.

Sagsveen entered the U.S. Army in 1968 and later joined the North Dakota Army National Guard. At the time of his retirement in 1996, he was a brigadier general and the senior judge advocate in the Army National Guard. A year later he was recalled to active duty by Governor Schafer to serve as the State Flood Recovery Coordinator to assist Grand Forks and other cities in their recovery effort. He was recalled for that position again in 2011 in response to the devastating Souris River flood in Minot, ND.

After his first stint as State Flood Recovery Coordinator, Sagsveen was appointed as the State Health Officer. Later, he served as the general counsel of the American Academy of Neurology and chief executive officer of Leadership North Dakota.

“With his extensive experience in state government and law, General Sagsveen is just the person to be helping me shape and implement a solid organizational plan and coordinate the senior staff at the North Dakota University System,” said Interim Chancellor Larry C. Skogen.

Sagsveen is also responsible for implementing legislation that consolidated the legal functions of the NDUS, bringing eight attorneys to be part of the system office. He will supervise the legal staff and help make sure that the NDUS is in compliance with the directives of the legislature and State Board of Higher Education, among other things.

Land Board Awards $4 Million to Support Higher Education in Western North Dakota

NDUS Chancellor Skogen In an effort to support education in oil and gas counties, the Board of University and School Lands (Land Board) awarded $4 million in grants to higher education institutions impacted by rapid growth in western North Dakota on Dec. 18.  These funds were awarded in conjunction with $5.6 million in grants to K-12 schools in that area.

“We are very appreciative of the help of the members of the Land Board and legislature in supporting our oil-impacted colleges and universities,” said North Dakota University System Interim Chancellor Larry C. Skogen. “By being good stewards of these funds, our colleges and universities will be able to build upon their already successful programs and continue to improve as we work to provide the best environment possible for our students to live and learn.”

Williston State College received $2 million in grants to construct a new building dedicated to workforce training programs and demolish a vacant residence hall. The workforce training building will allow Williston State College to expand training options, better prepare students, and help meet the ever-changing needs of the job market in North Dakota.

Minot State University was awarded a $1 million grant to enhance campus security measures, and Dickinson State University received $981,500 for a campus access control system and to expand and renovate a residence hall.

“These grants, in conjunction with those awarded to K-12 schools, will allow us to focus on educating students from preschool through graduate school, while maintaining a safe and comfortable atmosphere where they can succeed personally and professionally,” said Skogen.

Alumni Spotlight: Blaine and Sarah (Daniels) Burdick

Blaine_Sarah_Alumni_SpotlightBlaine Burdick, O.D., and Sarah (Daniels) Burdick, CPA, both grew up in the Lake Region and started their college educations at Lake Region State College. Blaine attended LRSC from 1999-2001, earning an associate in arts degree. He transferred to NDSU, earning his bachelor’s degree and then attended Pacific University of Optometry, earning his optometry degree. Sarah attended LRSC from 2000-2001, transferred to UND and then on to NDSU, earning a degree in accounting. They lived in different states but returned to the Lake Region where they work and are raising their young family.

“We know how important this college is to this community. It’s come full circle for us,” Sarah says.

Why did you choose LRSC?

Blaine: “Prior to starting college I knew that optometry was my career path and that I had many years of college ahead of me, so the financial aspect of attending LRSC was a huge factor. Tuition and fees were lower at LRSC and I was also able to obtain local scholarships. I was also able to live at home, keep working, and save for future college expenses. Between scholarships and the money I saved by living at home, I finished the first two years of college loan free. That felt great, since I knew the debt I would accumulate down the road would be substantial.”

Sarah: “Lake Region State College was a great choice for me for two reasons. First, I wasn’t quite ready to leave home right after high school, but didn’t want to put my education on hold, either. Going to LRSC gave me the chance to stay close to home and still experience college. I was able to gain the maturity and confidence I needed. Secondly, like a lot of college students, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted. I was able to take a variety of classes at LRSC and narrow down my interests. I was then able to choose universities that had good programs in the fields that fit my interests.”

What advice would you give to someone looking at going to college or helping guide a family member in choosing a college?

Sarah: “I would stress that college is a huge commitment – it’s a financial and mental commitment and one has to commit time to earn that degree. Many students enter college not certain what they want to major in and some students aren’t even sure college is for them. Lake Region State College gives them the opportunity to test out the waters.”

Blaine: “The first two years of college have standard core classes for many degrees, making the transfer process uncomplicated. Taking the courses at LRSC and experiencing the interaction with instructors in smaller classes really made the college experience positive.”

What stands out about your experience at LRSC?

Blaine: “By attending a smaller college I was able to have more contact with instructors, fellow students, as well as college staff. This helped me to earn a “degree” in people and social skills that is irreplaceable.”

Sarah:  “Attending LRSC taught me skills such as organization, multitasking and how to be a better communicator… skills that were useful throughout my college career, as well as in the working world.”

100% Exam Pass Rate for 2013 Graduates of BSC’s Associate Degree in Nursing Program

BSC Foundation director receives award – Gordon Binek, executive director of the BSC Foundation, received the Respected Fundraising Professional of the Year award the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Northern Plains Chapter. The award recognizes “a passionate fundraising professional, who exemplifies the highest standards of ethical practice and effectively champions the cause of a nonprofit mission.”

100% pass rate – One hundred percent of the 2013 graduates from BSC’s associate degree in nursing program passed their entry into practice licensure exams — the same registered nurse licensure test taken by four-year nursing graduates.

BSC premiers 75 year documentary – On Jan. 23, BSC premiered a 90-minute documentary film on the history of BSC to the Bismarck Mandan community. Produced in-house, it includes 57 interviews along with scores of historical photos, clips and video. The documentary was developed as part of a year-long celebration of BSC’s 75 years.

Bottineau Children’s Academy: A Joint Venture Between DCB & Economic Development Corporation

Construction has begun on the Bottineau Children’s Academy – a cooperative venture between Bottineau’s Economic Development Corporation and DCB. Targeted opening for the center is June, 2014. The facility will have capacity to serve 51 children and will include a pre-school program. The building is located on DCB property, thus will provide easy access for students, faculty, and staff.

On December 3, DCB held its first annual Honors Symposium. The symposium highlighted the work of the students enrolled in the college’s honors program. The program is a component of DCB’s Nature, Technology, and Beyond focus that aspires to convince students to go beyond normal expectations and consists of learning opportunities aimed at preparing them for a lifetime of achievement. A main goal of the program is to provide an environment where students are responsible for their own learning. Honors program faculty invite students to explore their academic interests and to intellectually challenge themselves.

The Dakota College Drama Club presented LumberActs – A Night of Improv on December 9, and on December 11, the Art and Photography Department presented their Fall Student Art Show. Both of these events support the DCB mission of providing opportunities for student growth and success.

Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at DSU Awarded $60,000 Grant

Strom Center at DSU awarded $60,000 Bush Foundation grant – The Strom Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Dickinson State University was awarded a $60,000 Bush Foundation grant for the Western North Dakota Energy Project. The project aims to provide leaders and residents in western North Dakota with critical information to aid smart decision making about shale energy development.

DSU receives awards for security and housing – DSU received two Higher Education Impact grant awards totaling $981,492: $181,492 for enhancing security and $800,000 for campus housing. These funds were allocated during the 2013 North Dakota legislative session for use by public institutions of higher education impacted by oil and gas development.

DSU’s Stoxen Library hosting “Civil War 150 Traveling Exhibition” Dec. 30-Jan. 27 – DSU’s Stoxen Library is hosting the “Civil War 150 Traveling Exhibition” during January. The library is also hosting events throughout the month that explore the bloodiest war in U.S. history. DSU is one of only 50 sites nationwide to host the exhibit and is the only site in North Dakota.

Dakota Precision Ag Center Opens at LRSC

Lake Region State College held a ribbon cutting and open house for its Dakota Precision Ag Center in December. The center houses the college’s precision ag academic program, its center of excellence– Dakota Precision Ag Center – and the college’s farm business management program.

The arrival of a new and highly advanced flight simulator, the Redbird FMX Flight Simulator, will enhance the college’s Simulator Maintenance Technician program at LRSC . The multiple channel or wrap-around visual system will enhance the curriculum for students on how to operate, maintain and troubleshoot various simulators for the aviation, entertainment, medical, and other industries.

MaSU Child Development Program’s Head Start Earns Perfect Review

The MaSU Child Development Program’s Head Start and Early Head Start earned a perfect review when the Administration of Children and Families conducted a tri-annual monitoring in October. The monitoring team saw no areas of non-compliance or deficiencies. The comprehensive program serves more than 300 children across Traill, Steele, Griggs, Nelson, and Grand Forks Counties.

MaSU hosted 225 area elementary, junior high, and high school teachers, as well as Mayville State teacher candidates, for a professional development day on Jan. 20. The purpose of the training was to help the teachers explore ways in which they can adapt their classroom teaching to help meet the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

MaSU has begun a year of celebrations leading up to the 125th anniversary of the university, which is officially November 2, 2014. Among the planned festivities is the grand opening of MaSU’s Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center, which will be held in June as part of the annual MaSU Alumni Days activities.

MiSU Receives Oil Impact Grant to Enhance Campus Security

MiSU receives oil impact grant –Minot State University is set to receive a $1 million oil impact grant to enhance campus security. If approved by the Legislature and State Board of Higher Education, the money will pay for blue lights, parking lot cameras and enhanced lighting to be installed throughout campus.

NDCPD awarded contract – The North Dakota Center for Person with Disabilities, a Center of Excellence at Minot State University, has been awarded a contract from the North Dakota Department of Health to implement a statewide middle school personnel training program to combat suicides. The training meets new North Dakota requirements for mandatory professional development.

MiSU Centennial Symposium celebrated Great Plains – MiSU is directly connected to place: to the northwest North Dakota and the larger global environment. To commemorate MSU’s Centennial Celebration, “Great Plains Symposium” featured topics such as MSU’s legacy and history, Great Plains immigrants and the region’s future. This event was co-sponsored by the North Dakota Humanities Council and the MSU Board of Regents.

98% Placement Rate for NDSCS 2012-13 Grads

The NDSCS Graduate Placement Report identified a 98 percent placement rate for 2012-2013 graduates. The placement rate includes graduates who are employed or pursuing additional college education.

The CEO Roundtable on Cancer has awarded NDSCS with CEO Cancer Gold StandardTM accreditation for its efforts to reduce the risk of cancer for its employees and covered family members by promoting healthy lifestyle choices, encouraging early detection through cancer screenings and ensuring access to quality treatment.

NDSCS has begun a renovation of the iconic Old Main building at its Wahpeton campus. The renovation, expected to be completed during the summer of 2015, will incorporate modern technology while restoring and preserving the historical appearance of the building. The renovation is being funded through the North Dakota State Legislature.

NDSU Extension Services Celebrates Centennial

NDSU Extension Service celebrates its centennial this year. It was created to extend knowledge created at NDSU to North Dakotans. It continues to improve the economic and social well-being of the state. A recent national study on ag research and Extension found $20 of benefit for each $1 invested.

 The Valspar Corp. and NDSU have announced two new scholarship programs to provide opportunities for students studying coatings and polymeric materials at the university. The Valspar Foundation will contribute $20,000 to support up to five graduate student scholarships and a new program for Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

NDSU is one of 12 institutions selected for a pilot program to improve student success, retention and completion rates. The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education invited NDSU for its Gateways to Completion process. The program provides tools for faculty and staff to analyze student and institutional performance in introductory gateway courses.

UND Among Six Sites to Selected Conduct Research and Testing on Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Federal Aviation Administration selected the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s proposal as one of six sites to have the exclusive right to conduct research and testing on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The University of North Dakota plays a key role in project, as do NDSU and Lake Region Community College.  UND’s UAS Research Compliance Committee is the first of its kind in the nation.  UND created the first UAS major in the country, and has already graduated students from the program.

The University of North Dakota College of Business & Public Administration has been rated #32 by US News & World Report in a list of the best online graduate business programs.

The University of North Dakota Department of Space Studies is receiving international coverage for leading a national team in a mock exploration of Mars.  The team is living in a 1,200-square-foot UND-designed habitat in Utah, which is standing in for the Red Planet.  UND successfully tested the habitat in Grand Forks late last year.  Students lived in the habitat for 10 days, wearing UND-designed space suits when they ventured outside.

VCSU Foundation Receives Largest Gift in University History

The VCSU Foundation has received a $2.5 million gift—the largest in VCSU history—from the estate of Leonard and Marjorie (Dreis) Wright of Mukilteo, Wash. Marjorie Wright attended VCSU and taught school in North Dakota and Alaska before joining her husband’s business, Badger Construction, which prospered with work on Alaska oil pipeline construction projects.

VCSU’s online degree programs are nationally ranked in the 2014 U.S. News Best Online Programs. In the Graduate Education category, VCSU’s online M.Ed. is ranked 42nd among 234 programs listed. In the Best Online Bachelor’s Program category, VCSU is ranked 138th of 278 listed programs.

VCSU Viking running back Derek Elliott was named a First-Team AFCA–NAIA All American. Breaking or tying 13 school records, Elliott finished second in the NAIA in regular-season rushing yards. He totaled 1,873 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in 10 games, averaging 7 yards per carry.

WSC Undergoes Year-Long Renovation Project

Stevens Hall, WSC’s main academic/administrative building, is undergoing a $2.1 million, year-long renovation updating over 44,068 square feet. Much of the class and employee space has been uprooted and housed in alternative buildings. Even so, the spring semester has gotten off to a great start and preliminary numbers look good.

Because of the Stevens Hall renovation and academic space being at a premium, the DMV (currently housed on WSC property) has been forced to move. WSC will, however, continue to support this vitally important agency by leasing commercial space to them in the newly finished apartment building on campus.