Monthly Archives: October 2014

Winds of Change Blowing in Right Direction

State Board of Higher Ed President Diederich

A column by Board Chair Kirsten Diederich

Last week I attended a meeting entitled “Winds of Change: Staying the Course to the American Dream,” a leadership congress sponsored by the Association of Community College Trustees of which I am a Board member. The 2,000+ attendees took a look at the historic forces that shaped the community college movement—and the economic and generational changes that are now transforming its future. “Staying the course to the American dream reflects our commitment to the communities we serve and our country,” said ACCT Chair LeRoy W. Mitchell.

Dr. John Richman, president of North Dakota State College of Science, and his team members delivered an impressive presentation about student success that had everyone talking. Jaws dropped as Dr. Richman shared the retention, graduation and job placement rates at NDSCS – which are already well above national averages — and their practical approach to even better results.

During the session, they shared how they examined retention rates, used data and implemented best practices – with minimal staff and budget changes – to create campus-wide support for student success initiatives. Specifically, they discussed how they re-invented the student acclimation process and increased campus-wide communication focused on retention strategies.

Afterwards, I was approached by fellow ACCT Board members and numerous attendees about the impact of NDSCS’s presentation. Many said they left the seminar fired up about going back to their own institutions to replicate what was created on the NDSCS campus. I was so proud of our team and what they’re doing for our students and our state.

We are ahead of the pack, not only at NDSCS but at all of our community colleges in graduation, retention and job placement. We are also leaders in articulation agreements across our system, allowing our students to seamlessly transfer from a community college to a four-year institution if they choose. Other states are working toward that, but aren’t there yet, and look to the North Dakota University System as a leader in articulation and transfer.

North Dakota is in a perfect position to take advantage of transformational change that is happening all around us. We can pull ahead of other states and other countries by drawing people to live, learn and work here through the magnet of higher education. The State Board’s new strategic plan, the NDUS Edge, has created a blueprint for doing just that. I’m convinced the “Winds of Change” are blowing in the right direction for our students and all of our stakeholders. Hold on to your hats!

Oct. 30 Board Meeting Agenda Highlights

Agenda Highlights:

  • Final Interview VCSU President
  • VCSU STEM Presentation
  • Approve System IT Plan
  • Ratify WSC interim president recommendation

The final interview portion of the meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. CDT. The live stream will begin at approximately 10 a.m. CDT with the Board’s decision on the presidential search, followed by the regular meeting. The livestream will be available at

View the full agenda here.

Proud of who we are, what we are striving to do

A column by Janice Hoffarth, SBHE Staff Adviser

A column by Janice Hoffarth, SBHE Staff Adviser

This past week I was fortunate to attend the Association of Community College Trustees Leadership Congress in Chicago.  It didn’t take long to realize that we, the people of North Dakota, are fortunate in many ways, and especially in our commitment to higher education.

The first night, the speaker from another state was proudly proclaiming their increase in retention rates at their community college.  They had gone from 7 to 14 percent in one year!!!  I was sure I had heard that wrong. They were proud of a 14 percent freshman to sophomore retention rate?  What was I missing?  As she spoke, she talked of broken homes, poverty, etc.  They were hoping with their plan to provide an education with NO tuition costs for residents, those rates might go higher.

Bright and early the next morning, North Dakota State College of Science gave a presentation on retention and graduation rates to a packed room.  President Richman, Melissa Johnson and Jane Vangsness Frisch from NDSCS talked about how they were not happy when their retention rate slipped to 63 percent, so they went to work. This year they are above 70 percent and expect that next fall they will be once again be over 80 percent. You could tell that students are of primary importance to these educators. This is where students go to succeed. I left their presentation so proud to wear my North Dakota nametag.

There were many great topics and speakers during this conference, so I had to choose each session wisely. I came away with two thoughts/quotes that I feel directly relate to us as we move ahead with our strategic plan.

  1. If a board is effective, the Presidents should feel the hands of the board on their back in support. They are not in this alone.
  2. The temptation to focus on the numbers of degrees is detrimental to the quality of those degrees awarded.

As I flew back to our great state, I realized how fortunate we are to be part of the educational experience in North Dakota.  We are striving for 80 percent retention rates, not 20 percent. We are not telling our departments to cut 2-10 percent of their budgets, but instead we’re building a Medical School and a Law School. We have jobs for our students when they graduate, not poverty and crime.  We have a Board committed to quality education and Presidents who are leading the charge to get us there. We are daring to be great – and I believe we are already on the way!

Committee names finalist for Valley City State University president

Tisa Mason, Ph.D.

Tisa Mason, Ed.D.

The Valley City State University presidential search committee met in Valley City Oct. 13 –Oct. 15. The committee interviewed five candidates in person.

“These interviews were a great opportunity for the candidates to visit the campus and give them a better understanding of the culture at Valley City State,” said Board Chair Kirsten Diederich, who also chairs the presidential search committee.

The committee narrowed the pool to two finalists. After being named a finalist, one candidate withdrew his application. The remaining finalist, Tisa A. Mason, Ed.D., vice president for student affairs, Fort Hays State University, will now be interviewed by the Board.

The State Board of Higher Education will conduct the final interview at 8: 40 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30 prior to that day’s Board meeting at VCSU. The Board’s decision on the next VCSU president will be announced immediately following the interview.



North Dakota University System launches app to encourage students to drink responsibly

What's Your Buzz? allows users to track their drinks in just a couple taps.

What’s Your Buzz? allows users to track their drinks in just a couple taps.

What’s Your Buzz? is not only a drink tracker and blood alcohol concentration calculator, it’s also an educational tool. It can be easy for people to underestimate how much alcohol is in their drinks and the effect it’s really having on their bodies, especially for young adult students. This app gives users a simple visualization of what’s actually happening when they drink.

Developed by the North Dakota Higher Education Consortium for Substance Abuse Prevention (NDHECSAP) under the guidance of the university system, the app functions as a blood alcohol concentration calculator that gives those who choose to drink the ability to do so more consciously. It includes a drink tracker function and a BAC scale with a “sober countdown” telling the user when they can approximately expect to be sober if they were to stop drinking. It also includes the ability to call a taxi based on your location or you can program the app in advance to call your designated driver.

NDHECSAP contracted with Fargo-based developers Myriad Devices, LLC to design the app. What’s Your Buzz? is available for free in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play store.

NDUS hosts General Education Summit to announce common learning outcomes

The North Dakota General Education Council hosted its fall summit Friday, Oct. 10 at Bismarck State College. The council is made up of representatives from each public, private and tribal institution in North Dakota with the goal of improving general education delivery in the state.


Nationally, many colleges and universities are looking at ways to improve student learning by focusing on college-level outcomes. Since 2009, the NDGEC has held a series of summits where faculty and staff engaged in conversations regarding trends and issues in North Dakota general education.  This summit brings together the unified work of the institutions of North Dakota in agreeing on five student outcomes:

  • Breadth and depth of knowledge,
  • Critical and creative thinking,
  • Quantitative literacy,
  • Written communication and
  • Oral communication.

“No longer is a set amount of minutes or credits a guarantee of excellence,” said Teresa Tande, associate professor at Lake Region State College and president of the council. “Students need to be able to demonstrate what they know and what they can do.”


The day before the summit, statewide faculty experts worked together to define a standard of achievement for each of the above learning outcomes. Based on discussion at the Summit, each North Dakota campus will be able to have a conversation about those standards before the NDGEC votes on them in the spring.


“I am thrilled to see that you are attempting to measure attributes of student success which (unlike graduation rates or passing courses rates) are directly related to what a college/university is supposed to do,” said Rep. Eliot Glassheim in an email to the North Dakota University System office.


“The North Dakota University System is extremely supportive of this grassroots, faculty-led commitment to transformative learning that enables students to meet emerging challenges in the workplace and to raise the quality of student learning,” said Lisa Johnson, NDUS Director of Systemwide Student Entry, Transfer, and Retention. “The agreement on learning outcomes is a great accomplishment for our state and, more importantly, our students.”



Major Grant Awarded to MHEC for Accelerating Service member Transition to College and Career; North Dakota Joins Initiative


The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) was awarded a $900,000 grant from Lumina Foundation for the Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit (MCMC), a 13-state initiative to identify policies and practices to help military service members, veterans, and their families to overcome barriers to access, participation, and completion of a postsecondary credential and entrance into the workforce. North Dakota is a member of the collaborative and MHEC. Committed volunteers from various state agencies, university systems, college campuses, and other organizations have been working together for nearly three years to move this initiative to the next level.

“This initiative began as a grassroots effort to recognize competencies acquired through military service and to put service members on an accelerated path toward a quality, postsecondary credential leading to a successful career,” stated Ken Sauer, senior associate commissioner and chief academic officer for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and co-leader of the initiative.

“What began as a few states working together has grown exponentially, and we now aspire to have all the states in the MHEC region serving veterans to the best of their ability. When we work with like-minded partners at the national level and in other states and regional compacts, we can better serve our men and women in uniform,” added Sauer.

“This initiative closely aligns with the university system’s goal of increasing participation in higher education in North Dakota through support of non-traditional students,” said Larry C. Skogen, interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System. “We are proud to be joining together with states across our region to support our United States service members.”

Representatives from MHEC’s 12-state region plus Kentucky will be engaged from a variety of state, local, and national entities in the project over the course of the three-year initiative.

Midwestern Higher Education Compact is a nonprofit regional organization assisting Midwestern states in advancing higher education through interstate cooperation and resource sharing. Learn more at

BSC hosts energy conference

TREND consortium receives second round grant
The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a second job training grant totaling $9,926,410 to the TREND consortium which includes BSC, WSC, Sitting Bull College and Turtle Mountain Community College. In 2012, the consortium received $14.6 million. The colleges deliver training to participants pursing high-paying, high-skill jobs in western ND.


BSC hosts energy Conference
The 8th annual Great Plains & EmPower ND Energy Conference was held at BSC on Oct. 14. Industry leaders and elected officials heard from guest speakers such as author Robert Bryce on topics ranging from traditional and renewable energy to national energy policy to the latest research.


Two BSC employees named to higher education network
Two representatives from Bismarck State College were named to the North Dakota network for women in higher education. Nita Wirtz, BSC assistant professor of psychology, and Stacie Iken, chief institutional effectiveness and strategic planning officer, will serve as campus liaisons to the North Dakota Women’s Leadership Network.

DCB Awarded Specialty Crop Grant

DCB Awarded Specialty Crop Grant

Dakota College has been notified that it has been awarded a $52,000 specialty crop grant from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. The grant will be utilized by DCB’s Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture to meet a need for food safety training for vegetable and fruit growers


DCB Hosts Tech Wars

In October, Dakota College’s IT instructors hosted a Tech Wars event for area high school students. Contests and events focused on computer hardware, web page creation, electronic waste, and global positioning systems. Prizes were awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams.


Dakota College Foundation’s Fundraising Successful

Since late July, Dakota College’s Foundation has raised $82,146 in a variety of fundraising activities. All of the profits from the efforts are used for student scholarships. The Foundation’s annual Evergreen Dinner Auction was the premier fundraiser. In September, 315 people attended the event and $57,188 was raised for academic scholarships.

DSU’s 9th Annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium draws wide audience

9th Annual TR Symposium draws wide audience

DSU’s 9th Annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium Sept. 25-27 drew 536 guests, including visiting scholars and attendees from 21 states and five countries. The Theodore Roosevelt Center, which organizes the annual event, now has 24,194 digitized items, including eight new letters the former president wrote to his second son, Kermit on a range of themes, including Roosevelt’s views on the presidency, football, and acting as a “vice-mother” to him when mother Edith Roosevelt was away.


DSU scholars surpass fundraising goals

The 69 students enrolled in DSU’s Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program have already raised nearly $1,000 for a Dickinson Backpack program. Students collected $150 in cash donations and raised another $800 from one fundraiser during the university’s Homecoming. Proceeds will go to the backpack program, which provides under-resourced students in Dickinson with backpacks stuffed with food items.


28-year DSU employee leads expertise at community events

Kathy Lowe, a nearly three-decade employee at Dickinson State University (DSU) lent her financial expertise at two youth community events in October. The DSU assistant director of financial aid served as a panelist for the Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars Fall Conference in Bismarck and is facilitating a financial literacy assembly for sixth-graders in Dickinson on Oct. 31.

Enrollment up at LRSC

Enrollment up at LRSC

Lake Region State College announces its official headcount for Fall 2014.  The college registrar’s office reports 1,989 students compared to 1,898 students fall 2013 and 1,974 students fall 2012.The college has 531 full-time students compared to 486 full-time students a year ago and 524 full-time students in 2012. Full-time equivalent headcount is 978 compared to 943 last year and 972 in 2012.


Technical center expansion celebration

Officials at Lake Region State College celebrated construction of its new educational space with a ribbon cutting ceremony September 24. The new Technical Education Center – which opened August 26 – will prepare students for careers as nurses, police officers, auto technicians, wind energy technicians, simulator technicians, and specialists for current and emerging industries.

MaSU’s Sletten represents North Dakota at mathematics and science partnerships conference

Sletten represents North Dakota at mathematics and science partnerships conference

MaSU faculty member and P-16 STEM coordinator, Sarah Sletten, was recently North Dakota’s state leader representative at the Department of Education’s Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Conference in Washington, D.C. She presented MaSU’s MSP project in the poster session during the general conference.


RN to BSN nursing program receives start-up funding

Thanks to the North Dakota Challenge Grant and a grant from the Edson and Margaret Larson Foundation, the RN to BSN nursing program at MaSU will receive an infusion of $450,000 for development and start-up. Funding will be used for infrastructure needed in getting the new program started.


Integrated leadership program funded by Larson Foundation

MaSU’s integrated leadership program helps students build the leadership characteristics needed to prepare them to become future leaders for North Dakota. The program received continued funding from the Edson and Margaret Larson Foundation. The Larson donation has been matched by the North Dakota Challenge Grant, and $115,000 will be available for the coming year.

MiSU history students give Digital Minot presentations

MiSU history students give Digital Minot presentations

Four Digital Minot Project student interns presented research on MiSU Summer Theatre, the Heritage Singers and pioneer female teachers on Sept. 20. The project provides an opportunity for student interns to investigate local history topics, and then use that research to give public presentations and create online exhibits which remain available for public viewing and response. The Digital Minot Project was created by Bethany Andreasen, history professor, and is sponsored by the Department of History at MiSU. The Digital Minot website can be found at .


MiSU faculty member mentors Minot High School students for international forest contest

Two Minot High School seniors represented the United States in September at the 11th International Junior Forest Contest in St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexey Shipunov, Minot State University biology assistant professor, mentored the students by providing data samples and assisting in data analysis. Joe Super, the students’ Envirothon advisor, aided with the project and accompanied the students to Russia.


INBRE research students attend northwest regional meeting at Minnesota State University-Moorhead

Mikhail Bobylev, chemistry professor, and seven of his INBRE research students attended the northwest regional meeting on “Undergraduate Research in Molecular Sciences,” at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Oct. 3-4. Presenting the results of their research projects completed in Bobylev’s lab during the summer 2014 research period, the students made three oral and four poster presentations. Seven abstracts were published.

NDSCS fall 2014 enrollment surpasses 3,000 students for fourth consecutive year

NDSCS fall 2014 enrollment surpasses 3,000 students for fourth consecutive year

Fall semester enrollment at NDSCS has surpassed 3,000 students for the fourth consecutive year, and the number of students who are choosing to live on campus has grown by more than 7 percent over 2013. Overall, fall enrollment of Wahpeton, Fargo, online and dual-credit students totals 3,033.


NDSCS deemed Military Friendly

NDSCS was recently named to the 2015 Military Friendly Schools® list by Victory Media. The Military Friendly Schools® list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students, and ensure their success on campus.


NDSCS awarded Lt. Governor’s Worksite Wellness Award

NDSCS has been awarded with the Bronze level of the Healthy North Dakota Worksite Wellness Lt. Governor’s Award. Created to recognize NDPERS agencies that demonstrate a commitment to creating a healthy worksite, this is the first year of the award’s existence. Award levels were granted based on meeting minimal baseline requirements.

Hundreds attend NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health ceremony

Hundreds attend NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health ceremony

The inaugural White Coat Ceremony for NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health was Oct. 19, drawing an estimated 550 to 600 people. 102 students who received white coats, along with family and friends, attended. Overwhelming enthusiasm for joining the Bismarck nursing program with NDSU was repeated in presentations during and conversations after the event.


Students benefit from Higher Education Challenge Fund

NDSU students are benefiting from Higher Education Challenge funds. The program provided $203,000 to help fund a cutting-edge food production lab used by about 200 dietetics and hospitality and tourism management students. The program also provided a $1 million match to the Challey School of Music’s endowment campaign, which provides scholarships and graduate assistantships.


NDSU receives $1 million endowment for adult learners

NDSU has received a $1 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation for scholarships for adult learners. The endowment will allow NDSU to award at least 10 scholarships of up to $5,000 each year. Twenty-one students have already received scholarships from grants the foundation has provided the last two years.

UND opens a student services center, breaks ground for a UAS building, lays brick for the UND School of Law

UND opens a student services center, breaks ground for a UAS building, lays brick for the UND School of Law

During Homecoming Week, the University of North Dakota cut the ribbon on a new One-Stop Student Services Center, broke ground for a new UND Aerospace building, Robin Hall, which focuses on the growing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) education and research programs, and held a brick-laying ceremony to celebrate the progress on the UND School of Law addition and renovation project.


UND Student String Quartet  toured Western North Dakota

The UND Student String Quartet recently toured western North Dakota, performing free concerts in Stanley, Williston and Bismarck. The quartet comprises talented UND student musicians from North and South America and is conducted by Associate Professor Alejandro Drago.


NASA astronauts, including alumna Karen Nyberg, visit UND

NASA astronauts Karen Nyberg (a University of North Dakota alumna in mechanical engineering) and Doug Hurley visited the University of North Dakota Friday, Aug. 24, talking to classes in the College of Engineering & Mines and John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences and touring both colleges.

VCSU Rhoades Science Center earns design award

Rhoades Science Center earns design award

VCSU’s Rhoades Science Center is one of three projects by JLG Architects named to the 2014 Architectural Portfolio of American School & University magazine. Rhoades received recognition in the category of Outstanding Design: Post-Secondary Facilities category. The projects will be featured in the November 2014 issue of the magazine.


VCSU scholarship program benefits from Beatles tribute

The VCSU Foundation’s V-500 scholarship program was the beneficiary of the third annual VCSU Rendezvous held Friday, Oct. 17. Close to 300 people attended “Rubber Soul: A Tribute to the Beatles” at the Valley City Eagles Club, with all proceeds going toward student scholarships.


Biology class travels to Yellowstone

Twelve VCSU students traveled to Yellowstone National Park from Oct. 15–20 as a capstone to assistant professor Gary Ketterling’s Biology 499 course, exploring topics such as the reintroduction of the wolf and its impact on the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

WSC offers free tuition to Williams County students

WSC offers free tuition to Williams County students

WSC is proud to offer free tuition, fees and books to all graduates of Williams County High Schools.  The Alva J Field Trust, WSC Foundation and the ND Higher Ed Challenge Fund made this scholarship possible.


WSC welding students gain job experience on campus

Williston State College welding students gained real job experience by building three bike racks for the campus this fall. Students started working on the bike racks as their skills progressed in areas of fabrication. They will be installed next week.


TrainND hosts oil and gas training sessions 

TrainND has been hosting series of oil and gas industry training sessions geared towards business owners, professionals, land owners and community members.  The series runs through January.

State Board’s new plan unleashes potential of higher ed

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.