Monthly Archives: August 2015

Ness: Strengthen the System through Collaboration

Mike Ness, retired K-12 administrator and current SBHE member

Mike Ness, retired K-12 administrator and current SBHE member

K-12 and Higher Education can work together well, says former superintendent

One of the more recent members to be added to the State Board of Higher Education has been around education his whole life, and that’s given him a deep-seated perspective into how it influences and encourages young minds.

And, he sees a great opportunity moving forward for the North Dakota University System to closely collaborate with the Department of Public Instruction and the K-12 world from which he is coming and use that background as a higher education Board member.

Until June 30, Mike Ness had served faithfully as a principal and then superintendent of Hazen Public Schools in Hazen, N.D. Through more than four decades there, Bottineau, Stanton, Center and Verona, Ness has extensive experience in K-12, both as a teacher and administrator.

Now, with a seat at the SBHE, Ness is hoping to foster closer partnership between the two organizations to help ensure more seamless and successful transitions among graduating high school seniors who choose to stay in the state for their higher education needs.

Ness was appointed to the position vacated by former Chair Kristen Dietrich and was present for the first of the search advisory meetings that ultimately resulted in the committee selecting Mark Hagerott as the new chancellor. It coincided with his retirement from K-12 after 42 years.

“I knew I wanted something to do relating to education and higher ed was the perfect fit,” Ness said. “I felt that I could bring something to the table from my experience at K-12 and that’s really why I decided to apply for it.”

He’s brought that focus directly to the Board. At the strategic planning meeting in June, and later at the Interim Legislative Higher Education Committee meeting, his thought process was centered on connection and collaboration between K-12 and higher ed.

“I think we can move forward with that (connection and collaboration) and work with some of the leaders in K-12 and they’re very receptive to that,” he noted. “That was the direction I wanted to talk to the Board about. We’re all working on the same issue here; we want to educate our kids and make them good citizens and we need to work together on doing that.”

Ness added that one potential start would be an inclusive approach that resulted in interdepartmental help for education-related issues that could affect both agencies. He said if there were issues K-12 was working on it would be good for NDUS to hear about, and vice versa.

He noted that one such data tool – the longitudinal data system, was geared toward that end, and so far had seemed to work well, stating the intent was to help create “a seamless system.”

“I’d like to see us work more closely with K-12 and with the Legislature,” he added. “I think those are so important, and if we can deal with those and move in that direction, I think it will improve relations with all citizens of North Dakota. I think they’ll say that this Board, and this system, are really trying to do things right. I think we need to work on gaining that respect and in making decisions because they’re the right thing to do.”

He added that within any system there were many moving parts, and NDUS was no different. He stated that while the Board was there to set focus and direction, the system employees had to be free to get that work accomplished.

Lake lecture highlights importance of student advocacy

Peter Lake, the Charles A. Dana chair and director of the Center for Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law

Peter Lake, the Charles A. Dana chair and director of the Center for Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law

A recent visiting professor touched on a topic of growing importance recently during a lecture and panel at the University of North Dakota.

Peter Lake, the Charles A. Dana chair and director of the Center for Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law, recently provided an in-depth explanation for the change in law surrounding student advocacy to a packed audience at North Dakota’s sole law school.

Well-known for his presentations regarding the intersection of higher education law and policy, Lake provided insight to a crowd that had gathered to specifically hear about how North Dakota had become just one of a few states where law mandated that students be extended rights previously only afforded in criminal or civil cases.

He said the new law gives college and university students access to legal rights.

“The new statute that allows attorneys to participate makes this into a court-type system,” Lake said. “It doesn’t apply to every area, but definitely makes it move to a place more like a court and gives rights similar to those involved in a criminal or civil proceeding.”

There were still substantial differences between the processes employed in a “university court” versus those used in criminal or civil proceedings, Lake noted, stating that in civil systems it’s more about reparations and damages while in criminal systems it was about fines and punishments. In university systems like those put in place with the new statute, it was about something else.

“For university processes the discipline system is designed around higher education systems and/or righting wrongs like gender-based discrimination,” Lake said. “So we’re aiming to vindicate higher education interests and not award damage or punish behavior.”

In doing so, North Dakota joins states like North Carolina and Arkansas as some of the few with these university processes in place. The newfound advocacy could affect student conduct – both in a positive or possibly a negative way.

“They can help or hurt,” Lake said. “Really great advocacy can help students understand options, outcomes and relationships. I have seen advocates come in and create more drama than may have existed otherwise, however. They need to be sensitive to the context of the case. This is brand new territory.”

Due to the relative recentness of the topic nationwide, Lake said North Dakota could be a proving ground for these types of processes. After a similar debate had occurred at the federal level, Lake said lengthy dialogue resulted in a “potted plant” approach that gave universities the option of adopting similar processes, but didn’t mandate it.

“This is new within the country and it could become something talked about throughout the nation,” he added. “People are going to be watching from all over the country to see what’s going to happen. I think it also represents a nationally-growing focus on N.D. leadership in this field.”

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Cara Halgren said the decision to invite Lake to give a lecture and participate in a panel discussion came easy to those who had seen him before.

“Several of us have had the good fortune of seeing Mr. Lake present at national higher education conferences,” Halgren said. “As we prepare to begin the new school year, many of us are educating new colleagues on our campuses about issues critical to higher education. Given Mr. Lake’s expertise in Title IX and many other areas, we thought inviting him to campus was a great opportunity for those of us at UND and our colleagues across the NDUS.”

The invitation proved successful, as was the participation from students and legal minds from throughout the state.

“We had very strong attendance and it was wonderful that so many of our colleagues from across the NDUS were able to join us for the event,” Halgren said. “My understanding is that we had representatives from nine NDUS institutions join us for the day. Moreover, our audience was diverse in that we had individuals who are just beginning their careers as well as seasoned professionals. This mix allowed for thoughtful conversation about how to best serve students.”

According to Halgren, some highlights from throughout the session included a collaboration with colleagues from the UND School of Law on the topic of student advocacy.

“Mr. Lake’s comments were very helpful and applicable to all of us working with students. Immediately following this, we held a panel presentation that prompted some thoughtful conversation about how student affairs professionals and attorneys could work together to best serve students under SB 2150,” she said, referring to the legislative act that created a new chapter in North Dakota Century Code. The section relates directly to disciplinary proceedings for students and student organizations at public colleges and universities in the state.

“This was a great opportunity for dialogue and we are excited to continue these conversations in the future,” Halgren added. “We are grateful for the collaboration and assistance from our colleagues at the UND School of Law and across the NDUS that made this event a success.”

Presidential searches move forward

Dickinson State University logo
Committee narrows Dickinson State University presidential search to 10 candidates

The Dickinson State University presidential search committee met in Dickinson recentlyto narrow the list of 47 candidates to 10.

“The committee was able to look through a great group of qualified candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds,” DSU presidential search committee chair Kari Reichert said. “AGB Search consultants are impressed with the strong interest in DSU from across the country. It is an exciting time for the campus and community.”

The committee’s next step will be to interview the candidates Sept. 1 via distance-learning technology. Each interview will last approximately 45 minutes with a 10-minute break in between.

The finalists that will proceed to the interview stage include:

Michael F. Anderson, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, Wayne State College, NE

Stephen Easton, J.D., current professor and former dean of the college of law, University of Wyoming, WY

Daniel H. Hanson, Ph.D. president, Peru State College, NE

Steven E. Hardin, Ph.D. vice president and dean of academic affairs, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, PA

Cheryl D. Lovell, Ph.D., president and CEO, Rocky Vista University, CO

Thomas M. Mitzel, Ph.D., dean of faculty / vice president of academic affairs, Trinity College, CT

Petra M. Roter, Ph.D., vice chancellor for student affairs, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, WI

Richard G. Shrubb, Ph.D., former president, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, MN

Karl Ulrich, Ph.D., professor of biological science; former provost & vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of Montana Western, MT

Steven K. Yoho, Ph.D., president of the Atlanta, Georgia Campus, Argosy University, GA

Following the distance interviews, the search committee will conduct on-campus interviews Sept. 16 and recommend a slate of finalist candidates to the State Board of Higher Education, which will conduct final interviews on the DSU campus Wednesday, Sept. 30, with the selection of the next DSU president announced thereafter.



University of North Dakota logoUniversity of North Dakota presidential search committee named

The North Dakota University System announced the members of a Presidential Search Committee to identify candidates for the position of president of the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D. Dr. Robert Kelley, who has been the president at UND since July 1, 2008, will be retiring in January. The Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Hesham El-Rewini, UND dean and professor, and Mr. Grant Shaft, former member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, and is composed of students, faculty and staff from UND, as well as community leaders from the area.

“I am confident that the chosen committee members will do an excellent job of representing UND’s various stakeholders,” said El-Rewini. “I look forward to working with them on assembling a list of the best possible candidates.”

Members of the committee include the following:

Dr. Hesham El-Rewini, UND dean of the College of Engineering and Mines

Mr. Grant Shaft, former State Board of Higher Education member

Ms. Kathy Neset, current State Board of Higher Education chair

Mr. Nick Hacker, current State Board of Higher Education member

Dr. Alena Kubatova, UND professor and director of recruitment and chemistry

Mr. Leon Osborne, Jr., UND professor of atmospheric sciences

Ms. Angela Morgan, UND administrative assistant at the Energy and Environmental Research Center

Ms. Shari Nelson, UND associate director of Learning Services and Student Success Center

Dr. Linda Neuerburg, UND assistant director of American Indian Student Services

Mr. Matt Kopp, UND undergraduate student

Ms. Samantha Perrin, UND graduate student

Mr. Jim Poolman, president of Jim Poolman Consulting, Bismarck

Dr. Larry Skogen, Bismarck State College president

Dr. Mark Hagerott, North Dakota University System chancellor



Bakken U – Energizing through education

Bakken U

A new initiative called Bakken U: Energizing through education has been developed to meet the needs of energy workers and employers on the western side of the state. It is designed to encourage workers from the Bakken oil fields and other energy sectors to take advantage of slow times to enhance their skills and education by attending a college or university in their area to make them even more marketable.

“I’ve heard about many topics during my listening sessions this summer with legislators, business and community leaders. Especially in the western part of the state, the focus was on the importance of providing energy workers the programs they want, when and where they need them,” said Chancellor Mark Hagerott, North Dakota University System. “We know that we have excellent workers in the oil field, and we want to provide increased opportunities for their growth. Our goal is to provide a bridge to employment, career enhancement, and create an ‘energy reserve’ of workers ready to meet the demands of the workforce whenever and wherever educated energy workers are needed,” he said.

Bakken U is focusing on raising awareness of existing educational opportunities within the western part of the state. The immediate goal is to provide a one-stop shop for potential students. The staffs of Bismarck State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, Dickinson State University, Minot State University and Williston State College will work together to ensure that students are directed to the programs and courses that are right for them. By working as a team for one specific purpose, the institutions will best be able to serve the needs of a diverse population that arrived in North Dakota over the past several years.

“I listened to business and community leaders in the western part of the state and believe a coordinated effort among the five western colleges and universities is needed to meet the educational needs of a work force that is experiencing the effects of a downturn in oil prices. Members of this work force, those who have been on the frontline of the energy boom, can begin to explore their educational future on our new website, or can be within an hour’s drive to at least one of our western campuses. The university system is here to help them begin or restart their education,” said Hagerott.

There are 11 institutions in NDUS, and the other six also provide a variety of programs ranging from certificates to graduate degrees for students who may start their education in the west, but transfer for other opportunities in the east. “The benefit of a unified system is that we all work as a team to do what’s best for the student and to meet the demands of our state.”

“As an employer and as a member of the State Board of Higher Education, I’ve seen the men and women who came to North Dakota to work toward a brighter future in the oil patch. They are dedicated and driven,” said SBHE Chair Kathleen Neset. “Our population has increased by more than 70,000 in the past five years, and towns like Williston have seen their populations nearly double in size in that time. A potential downturn in oil exploration and production shouldn’t have those same people looking elsewhere for their next opportunity to advance. Now is the time to increase their education and training, and NDUS wants to give them the opportunity to do that right here, right now,” she said.

Next steps for Bakken U will be to focus on programs tailored specifically to the needs of energy sector workers, and working with businesses that might be interested in offering scholarships and grants to this workforce.

Hagerott said, “I see this program as part of our strategy to enhance the mission of our university system and adapt to meet the needs of our workforce, develop excellent programs for our students and equip them for success, while ensuring that our programs are affordable and accessible.”

Interim vice chancellor, chief of staff reflect on appointments


Lisa Feldner, Ph.D. Interim Chief of Staff and Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Institutional Research

Lisa Feldner, Ph.D., was named Interim Chief of Staff in late July. In taking on her new responsibility she also kept her duties as Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Institutional Research, overseeing the NDUS Core Technology Services (CTS) and institutional research, one of the most critical components of university system operations.

Feldner previously was CIO for the Information Technology Department for the State of North Dakota, where she oversaw technology activities in state and local government, managed a staff of 300 employees and a budget of $82 million. Feldner also held leadership roles in coordinating major IT initiatives, including the Statewide Technology Access for Government and Education Network, the Criminal Justice Information System, ConnectND, and the Geographical Information Hub.

Prior to Dr. Feldner’s appointment as ITD’s CIO, she served as the Technology Director for Bismarck Public Schools, where she managed the budget and staff, including the development, design, and integration of software and hardware systems for more than 13,000 users at 26 campuses.

Feldner has a Ph. D. in educational leadership from the University of North Dakota, a master of science in mathematics education from Minot State University, and bachelor’s of science degrees in computer science and business education, also from MiSU.

When did you learn you would be appointed to the position and what were your initial thoughts?

Chancellor Hagerott and I had visited before he formally took office about the possibility of me taking on the Interim Chief of Staff role when Murray Sagsveen retired at the end of July. I was very intrigued by the opportunity, and I love challenges. Together with Deputy CIO, Darin King, and the leadership team at Core Technology Services, we have accomplished a lot over the last two years. Darin and the team agreed to take on more of my duties while I try out this new role.


How long have you been with NDUS and what brought you here?

I’ve been with the system for two years. For seven years prior, I served as the CIO for the State of North Dakota. I was appointed by both Governors John Hoeven and Jack Dalrymple. In 2013, the NDUS CIO position opened and there were some things I felt needed tending in the areas of longitudinal data, security, and collaboration with K-12 and state government so I applied and got the job.


How do you plan on approaching your responsibilities within the position?

Chancellor Hagerott has a lot of work ahead of him. My goal is to keep the system office operating as smoothly as possible so he can concentrate on the big things. In addition, the 64th Legislative Assembly transferred the attorneys from NDUS to the Attorney General’s office and the auditors to the State Auditor’s office. I have a good relationship with both agencies, and we’re hoping to provide a seamless transition for NDUS and the two state agencies.


How long are you expected to serve as Chief of Staff?

I serve at the will of the Chancellor. As he is still getting settled in, no decisions about how long I will be Interim have been made. We’ll try this out for size and if it doesn’t fit, I’ll go back to full-time information technology and institutional research.


Describe your leadership style.

I believe I’m a collaborative leader. I like to get input from the stakeholders before decisions are made and I strive for consensus. However, I don’t have much patience for churn. While it is important to get input, it is truly wasteful and discouraging to discuss things over and over without choosing a course of action. Once a decision is made to move forward, then I don’t want to hear all the reasons why it can’t be done – just get to work. I’m not afraid to jump in and help.


Are there any changes you aim to seek to implement?

I would like to help the State Board of Higher Education implement a policy governance model to streamline meetings and help the system achieve the goals in the strategic plan. It will help the system be more responsive to students and constituents.


Richard Rothaus, Ph.D.

Richard Rothaus, Ph.D., Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

Richard Rothaus, Ph.D, was named Interim Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs at the beginning of July to take on the responsibility after former VC moved on from the position. Rothaus’ academic credentials started with a B.A. from The Florida State University, continued with an M.A. from Vanderbilt University and completed with a Ph.D from The Ohio State University.

Prior to his work at NDUS, he worked with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, which included time spent as a tenured professor of History and Assistant Vice President for Research at St. Cloud State University.


When did you learn you would be appointed to the position and what were your initial thoughts?

As the search for the new Chancellor neared completion, it became apparent that an Interim Vice Chancellor would be needed. Interim Chancellor Skogen asked me if I would be interested in serving as the Interim Vice Chancellor. I said I would, and then incoming Chancellor Hagerott met with me and decided that he would like me to serve. I was very pleased with the appointment, as the Academic and Student Affairs Councils have numerous initiatives underway and my appointment means we can keep going without any interruption. Of course, the appointment comes with a bit of nervousness, as the duties are heavy and we are in a very important transition period for NDUS.


How long have you been with NDUS and what brought you here from MNSCU?

I will have been within NDUS for a year come 1 August. Prior to coming here, I was running a small archaeological and consulting business from my home in Minnesota. While business was good and I was enjoying myself, I felt it was time to return to academia. I worked at St Cloud State as a tenured full professor and as an Assistant Vice President for over a decade. I think my experience as faculty, administrator, entrepreneur, consultant and business owner have given me a broad knowledge base and strong skill set that I’m happy to put to use for public higher education. And North Dakota? Well, North Dakota is in a golden age, from the Red River to the Bakken. Who wouldn’t want in on this?


How do you plan on approaching your responsibilities within the position?

In the simplest form, my position is responsible for academic programs, the students who are in them, and the faculty who teach them. This is, of course, the reason why NDUS exists. There is, however, a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes that keeps things running. So a great deal of my responsibility is working with the other Vice Chancellors to make sure we are collaborating and working efficiently to serve the students and citizens. I think when we do our job right, the machinery runs smoothly and students don’t know it’s there. And that’s a good thing, because we want them focused on their studies and training. I am guided by the Academic and Student Affairs Councils, which are composed of the Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officers at our 11 institutions. We meet frequently, discuss pressing issues, and decide how to meet the diverse needs of the students in the state. Our bosses are, however, the State Board of Higher Education, who drive the major policy decisions for the system. So additionally it is my job to see that the institutions communicate academic and student affairs issues clearly to the Board, that the Board’s messages get delivered to the institutions, and that the system works cooperatively as a system in serving students.


How long are you expected to serve as Interim VC?

I serve at the will of the Chancellor. As he is still getting settled in, no decisions about how long I will be Interim have been made. My style is to not worry very much about that, and stay focused on the initiatives underway.


Describe your leadership style.

I am a collaborative and pretty easy-going leader. I think I spend more time listening and learning than people realize, as I try to stay as fully-informed as possible. I am also a delegator; I try to assign the right projects to the right people and let their expertise and passion carry the system forward. On the other hand, I’m decisive. Having come from a university where decisions tend to move slowly, through small business where decisions have to be made almost instantly, I’ve found a comfortable spot in between those two positions.

A huge benefit of coming from within the system is that I knew we had excellent administrators and staff across the state who want to work together to provide academic, career and technical programs. So for the moment, I can accomplish a great deal just by making sure the system runs smoothly and quickly to let them do what needs to be done. That’s where the willingness to make a decision based on the best-available evidence comes in. After all, I get the fancy title and big desk to make decisions, and then be held accountable for those decisions.


Are there any changes you aim to seek within Academic and Student affairs?

Well, our ship is on course, but we could get there faster. Because I have an excellent and experienced staff, and because we have the massive skills and knowledge of the Academic and Student Affairs Councils to draw on, our day-to-day functions are in good shape. This frees me up to work with the other Vice Chancellors to make some timely changes, including streamlining those day-to-day functions.

There are three things changes I think we can achieve quickly: 1) We should streamline our academic, career and technical program approval process so that our institutions can respond quickly to community needs; 2) We need to make it easier for our students to take courses at any NDUS institution once they are enrolled; and 3) We really need to highlight some of the amazing programs that NDUS has that are serving the educational and workforce needs of the State.

Board member Melicher participates in Chamber discussion

Dr. Kevin Melicher, State Board of Higher Education

Dr. Kevin Melicher, State Board of Higher Education

The Greater North Dakota Chamber organized a policy summit on Aug. 13 during which one topic of discussion was higher education. The focus was primarily on changing misconceptions and meeting the workforce needs of the state. As a representative of the State Board of Higher Education, Dr. Kevin Melicher discussed a wide array of topics that came up during the hour-long discussion.

“I feel that the biggest misconception about higher education is that we spend money haphazardly. The many facets of higher education, perceptions by our stakeholders, the media and some misinformation or rumors can create these thoughts,” Melicher said.

His presence on the panel was to provide clarity about how the Board works and what the system does. “We are a governance board, setting policy for our system of 11 colleges and universities. The individual colleges and universities run their respective institutions, setting their own budgets, driving their mission to create the best college or university that they can. Our Board’s job is to blend together our system of driven presidents and institutions. This creates many more opportunities for students, economies of scale for the business side of education, and many opportunities to share ideas and thoughts.”

He said a big misconception that many people talk about is the subject of salaries. “We try to make the salaries of the presidents regionally competitive because we want to get the best presidents we can to run our institutions and ultimately lead us to success. Some people don’t see that as a value of education.”

Some members of the panel talked about the necessity of a strong chancellor for leadership purposes. Melicher said he agrees on the need for a strong Chancellor, but that the presidents also need to be strong. The presidents are the ones that drive the show,” he said. “They are the ones that make the university go.”

He said that the system of colleges and universities have their share of challenges ahead and he sees changes on the horizon.

“Our system is in constant flux and needs to grow. Staying still is not an option. Higher education requires constant change, innovation and, of course, money,” he said. “Our presidents need to be trendsetters and on the cutting edge to move their college or university forward using their resources to the best of their ability.”

During the panel discussion, Melicher said that security, technology, housing and food, and student-driven curriculum additions add to the financial pressures. “Growth and change is sometimes like a roller coaster, not a rocket. Higher education is a very competitive business, and we want to strive to be the best.”

He spoke about the necessity of mending stakeholder relationships and building a solid foundation to create a successful system to meet our workforce demands.

“My friends and family have the same concerns and thoughts that many in our state have about higher education. It is my goal, being a member of this Board, to try to explain to them what the positive qualities are. A solid higher education system brings good things not only to their city but to our state, citizens and workforce. In all our cities where colleges and universities are located, the city is the campus and the campus is the city providing a strong educational and financial vibrant pulse to the community,” he said.

He also spoke about some innovative ideas that need to happen to meet tomorrow’s demands today. “It is time to act. I don’t believe we can wait and do more studies on how to attract the workforce our state needs. Jeff Volk, President of Moore Engineering, believes the time is now and said so at one of our new chancellor’s listening sessions. Every year, without an initiative, we are falling further behind.”

He also said he would like to see North Dakota’s public colleges and universities become magnets for out-of-state students. “The two-year technical schools in South Dakota are going to be able to offer no tuition. Just think about that as competition for our state.”

Melicher says he’s been thinking about an idea that he’s calling “Grow North Dakota.” One part of the plan would be to have in-state and out-of-state tuition be the same. “Out-of-state tuition is close to an $11,000 difference in some of our universities,” said Melicher. “And if it was the same, we should be able to attract students from outside our state to come here.” Minot State University already has adopted the tuition program where there is no difference between in-state and out of state students.

Another idea is to give back some tuition to students who graduate on time. He says with thousands of jobs going unfilled, this is a good way to attract and keep people in North Dakota.

He concluded that the strong take away that people should get from the panel discussion is that we are all in this together. “Legislators, board members, college presidents, students, taxpayers, business and industry need to be on the same sheet of music. Earlier in my career on the Fargo School Board, our Superintendent, Dr. Vern Bennett used to say, ‘It is amazing how far we can go if we don’t worry about who gets the credit.’ How true.”

Creating the future of NDUS — together

Mark Hagerott - North Dakota University System Chancellor

Mark Hagerott – North Dakota University System Chancellor

Fall semester is fast approaching, and with it comes the excitement and liveliness found on college campuses at this time of year. Incoming freshmen will be creating their first memories of the higher education experience, while sophomores, juniors and seniors will be returning to their diligent studies throughout North Dakota.

Much has happened this summer already in higher education, and the North Dakota University System is doing everything it can to ensure that students don’t just have the most options, but the best options for their academic careers.

Like the students from our colleges and universities, I am learning. Since coming into this position on July 1, I have been fortunate to be able to meet with many outside of academia to learn what other North Dakotans think about our university system.

With few exceptions, the people who’ve spoken with me have highlighted successes of the system and its colleges and universities. And, most have offered insight about challenges they see our institutions facing.

Senators and Representatives, heads of state agencies, system chiefs, business officials, community leaders and others from around the state have shared their desire that we create an even better environment for higher learning – right now for current students, but also adapt for future classes to come.

It’s a lot to take in, but it’s vital to do exactly that in order to consider those perspectives to build the best possible university system for our state.

I’ve heard about many topics, to include from program adaptability, shared services and costs, finding the right program for each student, to evaluating tuition models, and more. I look forward to visiting each campus and getting more feedback and ideas. But having completed two tours of the state with legislative and business leaders, seven priorities that are coming into focus include governance improvements; metrics development for presidents, campuses and system goals; shared services prioritization and implementation; tuition model reconfiguration; cost containment possibilities; and mission effectiveness review.

These listening sessions have been incredibly valuable to me, and I am confident that they will prove valuable to our stakeholders, the system and most importantly, our students.

The perspectives that I’ve been able to listen to within these discussions have allowed us as a system to answer some questions about initiatives we’ve put in place, as well as hear direction about ongoing initiatives that are moving forward.

Andy Peterson, president and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, commented at Bismarck’s Bobcat Doosan location, that although it was the last meeting in my business tour, “This isn’t the last of the discussion, it’s only the beginning of it.”

I heartily agree. I’m very pleased, both that I was able to meet others interested in the future of North Dakota’s higher education, and that those who spoke up seemed to have clear visions for what higher education should be all about.

After traveling around the state, I’m reminded there is much to do. As I reflect on what I’ve heard these past few weeks in these conversations I am confident that we’ll be able to make our system of colleges and universities even better.

And, like those students gearing up to get back to school for the Fall semester, I’m enthusiastic and excited about what the future will bring.

Bismarck State College campus successes – July

BSC signs articulation agreement with Nebraska college

Students who complete the Energy Generation Operations (EGO) program at Southeast Community College (SCC) in Lincoln, Neb., now can transfer those credits toward completion of a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Energy Management at BSC. SCC EGO graduates will be admitted to BSC with junior standing. BSC has the only Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Energy Management in the nation. The program is entirely online.


BSC announces President’s Honor Roll for Spring 2015

In Spring 2015, more than 500 students were named to the honor roll. Of those, 208 students were named to the President’s 4.00 Honor Roll and 343 BSC students were named to the President’s Honor Roll which requires a 3.50 GPA.

“BSC students are great and it is always gratifying when the honor roll comes out and they get the credit they deserve for their focus and hard work,” said Dave Clark, BSC interim president.

Dakota College at Bottineau campus successes – July


Dakota College at Bottineau has learned that it is the recipient of a TRIO, Student Support Services Grant totaling $1,100,000. The purpose of the grant is to assist low income, first generation, and disabled students with help their academic and career pursuits. Dakota College’s grant application received 106 out of 106 possible points.



Dakota College at Bottineau has received a $70,496 grant from the USDA’s Rural Business Development fund that will be used to advance it’s recently approved Aquaponics program.



The infrastructure of the College’s historic Old Main building was recently improved through the efforts of the “Restore Old Main Committee,” failing ventilation shafts and stairwells were supported in order to buy time for the full restoration of the building. Old Main is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dickinson State University campus successes – July

DSU Receives $1.4 Million to Continue Hosting TRiO

Dickinson State University was recently funded more than $1.4 million to host the TRiO Student Support Services program for academic years 2015-16 through 2019-20. This funding will be used to provide assistance to 200 students each year for the next five years.


NIT & DSU Collaborate to Provide Opportunities

Northern Industrial Training (NIT) has partnered with DSU to provide an opportunity for individuals who are enrolled in the commercial driver training program at NIT to concurrently complete 15 credits at DSU, online or face to face, and receive a Certificate of Completion in Business Fundamentals. The certificate includes courses in: accounting, finance, spreadsheets, and management and leadership.


Margaret Sanger Papers Project Images to Join TR Digital Library

The Theodore Roosevelt Center at DSU is publishing online images from the Margaret Sanger Papers Project, a historical editing project sponsored by the Division of Libraries at New York University. This collection includes magazine and newspaper articles, as well as speeches given by Sanger. The items illustrate the intense disagreement between Sanger and Theodore Roosevelt, particularly about birth control and reproductive rights.

Lake Region State College campus successes – July

Trio Grant
Lake Region State College students have continued support for success thanks to a federal grant. The college has been notified of its selection to receive ongoing funding for its Student Support Services (TRiO) program. The TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) Program grant seeks to provide academic and general support services to low-income, first-generation or disabled college students in order to increase graduation rates, create a climate that will facilitate these students’ success and help them transfer from two-year to four-year colleges.

Practical Nurses Pinned
Lake Region State College held a pinning ceremony for its practical nurse students July 10 and July 16. Nineteen students completed the practical nurse program in Devils Lake and another seven completed at the Grand Forks site. The nursing program at Lake Region State College is part of the Dakota Nursing Program, which was created in 2004. The Dakota Nursing Program’s mission and vision is to respond to the nursing needs of the people of North Dakota by delivering a high-quality nursing educational program to students through innovative instruction. The Dakota Nursing Program includes Bismarck State College, Lake Region State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, and Williston State College.

Mayville State University campus successes – July

Anderson will present lectures in Norway

Dr. Sarah Anderson, MaSU Assistant Professor of Education, has been chosen to present at the 40th annual conference of the American Studies Association of Norway (ASANOR) 2015, “The Machine in the Garden: Energy, Industry and Technology in American Culture,” in Stavanger. She will also present visiting scholar lectures at several Norwegian colleges while she is in Norway.


First students graduate with new special education bachelor’s degree

The first students enrolled in MaSU’s new special education bachelor’s degree program graduated in May. The program is the first undergraduate special education strategist degree available in North Dakota. The degree allows teachers to work with children in any category of disability. Since it’s available online, those individuals currently licensed in North Dakota can continue to work while pursuing the degree.


MaSU HPER facility replacement project taking shape

The HPER facility replacement project is taking shape at MaSU. Since work began on April 27, the 1929 gymnasium has been demolished, and all excavation and backfilling and underground waterproofing is complete. A recent milestone is the start of installation of steel columns and beams, joists, and roof deck. Estimated completion date for the project is March 23, 2016.

Minot State University campus successes – July

Grants enable Minot State’s POWER Center to remain dedicated to student growth

Recently, the POWER Center, as a TRiO-Student Support Services program, had its Title IV grant renewed and received an additional grant that focuses on the needs of students with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Education grants, totaling $440,000 per year through 2020, provide opportunities for academic development, assist students with basic college requirements and motivate students toward completing their postsecondary education.


Ryan Stander receives NDCA fellowship

Ryan Stander, MiSU art assistant professor, has been awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship for $2,500 from the North Dakota Council on the Arts. The fellowship program recognizes and enables practicing North Dakota artists to improve their artistic skills and enhance their career opportunities. Stander plan to rework alternative photo processes on wood as a means of transition from one body of work into another.


Sudanese leaders explored social and economic issues

The Minot Area Council for International Visitors hosted 13 Sudanese visitors, who traveled under the auspices of the International Visitor Leadership Program of the U. S. Department of State to learn about “Creating an Inclusive National Public Dialogue.” They looked at social and economic issues and participated in “SS 283: Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in America,” at MiSU. MACIV is a joint effort between the Minot community and MiSU to create professional development and cultural enrichment opportunities for international visitors and for residents of the region.

North Dakota State College of Science campus successes – July

NDSCS Earns CEO Cancer Gold Standard Re-Accreditation

For the second year in a row, 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 Students Earn Top Awards at SkillsUSA Nationals

NDSCS students recently earned top honors at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. Austin Olin and Stacey Rustand of Fargo, N.D., and Isaac Rutten of Perham, Minn., each earned first place while David Lohstreter of Wahpeton, N.D., earned second.


More than 500 Students Graduate from NDSCS

NDSCS in Wahpeton, N.D., awarded degrees, diplomas and certificates to 538 Wahpeton, Fargo, N.D., and online graduates in May 2015. Students from 16 states and two international countries, Canada and Ghana, graduated in 34 areas of discipline.

North Dakota State University campus successes – July

NDSU researcher is receiving $1.35 million NIH grant to target colorectal cancer

NDSU researcher Bin Guo is receiving one of the most competitive and prestigious grants available from the National Institutes of Health. He is receiving a $1.35 million Research Project Grant from the National Cancer Institute of the NIH to develop a treatment system for attacking metastatic colorectal cancer cells, suppressing their growth and allowing conventional chemotherapy drugs to eliminate them.


NDSU, Sanford Health collaborate on human health, nutrition research

NDSU faculty members Kyle Hackney, Leah Irish and Katie Reindl received seed funding from Sanford Health to conduct research on human nutrition, weight management and other dietary-related areas as part of an initiative developed between the two organizations. Findings relevant to Sanford’s weight-management program will be considered as the program evolves and expands.


NDSU opens Office of Teaching and Learning

NDSU’s new Office of Teaching and Learning opened in July. The office’s role is to support the creation of student-centered, innovative educational programs and provide professional development to strengthen teaching at NDSU. It is one of the steps NDSU is taking toward national leadership in the area of student-centered, active learning.

University of North Dakota campus successes – July

UND breaks ground for Collaborative Energy Complex

The University of North Dakota broke ground July 20 on the new $15-million, 37,000-square-feet Collaborative Energy Complex ― a new facility that will open doors for students and faculty, and which itself will become the new front door to UND’s College of Engineering & Mines. It will be home the Petroleum Engineering program and the Institute for Energy Studies.


UND’s “OpenOrbiter One” CubeSat chosen for 2016 NASA mission

The University of North Dakota’s “OpenOrbiter One” CubeSat recently given the go-ahead by NASA to be part of an International Space Station resupply mission in 2016. The ultra-tiny satellite is smaller than a shoebox and has onboard research capabilities. It was chosen as the top proposal of its kind by NASA.


UND team takes second in international All-women Air Race Classic

University of North Dakota aviators recently placed second among 56 international teams competing in this year’s All-women Air Race Classic. This was UND’s third year in the nearly 2,600-mile cross-country air race that’s been flown by the likes of Amelia Earhart and held annually since before World War II.

Valley City State University campus successes – July

Online communication program receives Students Before Profits Award

The VCSU online bachelor’s degree program in communication has been recognized with a 2015–16 Students Before Profits Award for Best Online Bachelor’s in Communication and Public Relations by Nonprofit Colleges Online. Available entirely online (in addition to being offered face-to-face), VCSU’s professional communication degree offers three concentrations: corporate communication, digital media management and media communication.


Women’s basketball team tops NAIA in GPA

The VCSU women’s basketball team has landed the top spot in the nation among NAIA institutions on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Academic Top 25 Honor Rolls presented by AT&T. VCSU’s 3.692 GPA for the 2014–15 academic year is inclusive of all student-athletes on the roster for the entire season.


Von Hagen wins state piano competition

Tara Von Hagen, a VCSU piano student, placed first in the collegiate division of the NODAK Music Competitions, held June 24 in conjunction with the North Dakota Music Teachers Association annual conference at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

Williston State College campus successes – July

Relay for Life

The Upper Missouri Relay for Life will be held on the WSC campus on July 31st. Williston’s State Educating for a Cause team will be participating in this event. The team is comprised of both Staff and Faculty Members. The event is being held on campus for the first time this year.


Accompanied by four chaperons, 11 WSC students traveled to Japan on May 25 for an 18-day immersion program. The program was made possible through WSC’s partnership with its sister school, Kokusai Junior College (KJC). WSC students taught English while immersed in Japanese culture.

The partnership was created in 2010 to give both international and WSC students a unique cultural experience. Some KJC students will visit WSC from September 2-13 and will stay with host families, while two KJC students will be enrolled for the Fall 2015 semester.

NJCAA Academic Excellence

The NJCAA national office honored the top athletic programs finding success off the playing field with the announcement of the 2014-15 NJCAA Academic Teams of the Year. The Williston State College Women’s Basketball team finished tied for 2nd in the country with a team GPA of 3.67. The Tetons will receive an honorable mention recognition award for their efforts.

Women’s Basketball wasn’t the only sport receiving honorable mention. Teton Volleyball finished top 30 in team GPA with a 3.39 GPA and Teton Softball finished with a 3.08.

SBHE Strategic Planning Retreat video highlights

In June, the State Board of Higher Education conducted a strategic planning retreat to help build upon the existing framework and pave the way forward for the future of higher education. Board members, presidents and university system staff looked at challenges, opportunities and creative ways forward to make an impact on the students that higher education serves.
There were four new Board members participating this year and incoming Chancellor Hagerott also had new perspectives to add to the conversation. The strategic plan remains a plan in process as input is gathered from across the state to ensure all perspectives are heard, listened to and captured within the document.
“We are in this together,” said Hagerott. The video from the retreat captures the highlights and interweaves the thoughts and themes of the existing strategic plan.


Starfish, PAR presented

Long-planned reporting methods unveiled in council

Starfish Demonstration by Dr. Nadja Johnson, Director of Diversity and Student Success at Valley City State University. (Photo by VCSU Media Communications Specialist Mark Potts)

Starfish Demonstration by Dr. Nadja Johnson, Director of Diversity and Student Success at Valley City State University. (Photo by VCSU Media Communications Specialist Mark Potts)

Members of the Academic Affairs Council got their first look at two separate and distinct data tracking methodology frameworks that could help North Dakota University System’s goal of providing actionable and specific insight to its stakeholders for student success.

The first, Starfish, is a data-tracking system that helps monitor student persistence, for holding enrollment levels stable, advising, and use by counselors, faculty, tutors and other support resources.

The second, Predictive Analytics Reporting Framework offers common data definitions throughout its 351 unique member campuses and millions of records. NDUS’ inclusion into the framework offers the system benefits like student-level data such as watch lists and structures interventions, as well as higher-level trends that could color future policy. NDUS joined PAR in July. Inclusion into PAR was fully funded by the North Dakota Legislature during the 64th Assembly. It was championed by the N.D. Legislature’s Interim Higher Education Committee Chair, Rep. Mark Sanford.

Tuesday’s afternoon meeting of the AAC offered members a look at how membership into the two frameworks will benefit the system’s 11 colleges and universities.

Dr. Nadia Johnson, the director of diversity and student success at VCSU, presented Starfish, noting that the service has already been implemented at Valley City State University and is moving forward at University of North Dakota. Johnson noted that Starfish provides early alert services, and each campus could begin utilizing it for their own needs. She provided examples of that, including using it to generate semester reports instead of Campus Connection.

Johnson stated that the system had been live at VCSU since 2013. She noted that in the spring of this year it had been utilized to communicate with 724 unique students about their academic progress.

“As far as we know, the system has been successful at communicating concerns to students, faculty and staff,” Johnson said. “We have definitely had success in improving efficiency of our financial aid verification of student attendance as well as faculty midterm reporting. On average, 96 percent of our faculty (including adjunct faculty) use Starfish to report concerns. Our coaches, faculty and other staff all report benefits of keeping informed with students who may need some extra assistance and outreach. We also have been able to reach out to students who may not have otherwise known there was a concern.”

Dr. Tom DiLorenzo presented on PAR. He touched on performance metrics for the data system that provided a view of student patterns.

“PAR can be used in many different ways,” DiLorenzo said. “It’s a framework for data mining collaborative among two-year and four-year institutions. The bottom line is that it’s a massive amount of data. By looking at it across and within schools you begin to find patterns that help us design intervention strategies. It’s all part of predicting and preventing student loss.”

DiLorenzo presented some UND’s findings on PAR, including online student metrics and recognizing what groups that were more at-risk for stopping out.

Presentations continued well into the mid-afternoon on the topics, specifically to familiarize the AAC members on PAR. Richard Rothaus, Interim Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, said utilizing both as tracking tools and alert systems could greatly benefit students.

“It (Starfish) allows us to use data – like attendance and grades to get notifications that let us know students need help,” Rothaus said. “For example, we know that students who are over 24 and are in college for the first time have a real hard time in that first semester.  We can set Starfish to send advisors an email alert, and they can reach out.

“The real power of PARS and Starfish is that it can track multiple factors that we can’t do by hand,” he continued. “It also lets us identify risk factors we may not have noticed – like classes that, when failed, cause students to completely drop out, not just change majors.”

Rothaus added that he felt both PAR and Starfish were excellent tools.

“We can do much with their adoption,” he concluded. “There are challenges also – each institution is unique and they will have to learn how to make the tools work for them.  So this will be something we will grow over the next few years.”

State Board appoints Ozbun interim DSU president

Jim Ozbun photoThe State Board of Higher Education, at a special meeting, voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Jim L. Ozbun as interim president of Dickinson State University. Current DSU President D.C. Coston recently informed North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott that he is stepping down on Aug. 15 due to health concerns ahead of his originally planned retirement date of February. Ozbun will begin serving as interim president Aug. 17. The Board also agreed that the timeframe for the interim service would be negotiated by Hagerott with Ozbun depending on the needs of the university and the successful search for a permanent president.

“I want to thank D.C. Coston for his years of service. What is important at this point is that we take care of him and his family as he faces health issues. I appreciate that the Board could make time for a special meeting for the urgent matter of appointing an interim president,” said Hagerott. “Dr. Ozbun is a respected member of the Dickinson community, and with his extensive background, he will be able to fulfill the duties as we continue our search for a permanent president.”

At the Chancellor’s recommendation, the Board considered three interim candidates: Ozbun; Cynthia Lee A. Pemberton, Ed.D., current DSU provost and vice president of Academic Affairs; and Larry C. Skogen, Ph.D., who would have served both as the president of Bismarck State College and DSU. Hagerott thanked all for their willingness to serve, but said he thought Ozbun would be able to give the university his full attention, which is critical at this time of transition.

Ozbun is a retired academic with a long history of service in higher education. Before purchasing a small cattle ranch in western North Dakota, Ozbun served from 1988 to 1995 as President of North Dakota State University.

Ozbun’s career led him through faculty roles and leadership positions at Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, Kansas State University, Washington State University and NDSU. His work in research and teaching related to physiology and nutrition of crop plants. Ozbun has served on numerous boards and committees throughout his path of service, including most recently the Medora Foundation Board, St. Joseph’s Hospital Board in Dickinson, the Partners for Grassland Stewardship and as Chair of the North Dakota Racing Commission.

He has authored dozens of scientific journal articles and advised numerous graduate students, including 10 Ph.D. dissertations. His Ph.D. is in Soils and Plant Physiology.

The search for the next DSU president began immediately after Coston’s February announcement, and a presidential search committee was formed in April. DSU’s fall semester begins Aug. 24.