Monthly Archives: September 2018

Regular Board meeting includes wealth of topics

Regular Board meeting includes wealth of topics

The State Board of Higher Education covered extensive territory this week when it met at Valley City State University for a combined meeting that served as the finale for the VCSU presidential search, and the Board’s regular September update. After a morning spent interviewing the finalists in the search, the Board delved into territory ranging from self-governance to consensus-building, strategy, legislation and cybersecurity throughout North Dakota University System.

Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement Phil Wisecup provided updates to the Board concerning Envision 2030, as well as how the digital “Dashboards” program would help the Board move forward on one of its strategic goals – namely, on research excellence and innovation. The Dashboards have existed for some time, providing near real-time, public-facing data on the Board’s other goals have been populated with initial data from research initiatives to reflect research in progress.

Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan provided an update to the Board on ongoing preparations that were underway for the upcoming legislative session. Dolan noted that certain processes had been updated within system office, including a legislative tracking document and the office’s template for testimony. She noted that having these standardized formats would help keep actions and feedback consistent throughout the four-month session.

Dolan said additionally, senior staff met each week with the presidents to determine which potential legislation would require testimony, and if so, from which subject matter expert on staff. She stated that senior staff would continue to work with the Board chair on what work would be happening in regard to legislative session. She added that the higher education appropriations bill in this session would begin with the House of Representatives, with House Bill 1003.

Board member Kathleen Neset led the discussion on Board governance, which touched on wide-ranging conversations on the committee structures and Board self-evaluation. The first topic, on Initiated Statutory Measure #3. Board Chair Don Morton noted that Board members could not state individual perspectives on any ballot measures. After an initial motion to table the discussion was overturned, the Board briefly heard the update.

Legal Counsel Chris Pieske noted that state law prevented the Board, and its members serving in an official capacity, from commenting in regard to any upcoming vote. Traynor revisited his previous comment, noting that the Board should be cautioned not to hear from just one side. Director of Student Affairs Katie Fitzsimmons said that if Measure 3 passed, marijuana use would still be prohibited on campuses because of federal funding policy requirements.

Chief Information Officer Darin King provided an update on information technology integration, touching on digital initiatives, cybersecurity and Blackboard. King noted that Core Technology Services was working diligently to maintain and improve security features throughout university system, including a rollout of multi-factor authentication, identity management and as examples.

Hagerott provided details on a possible committee structure, noting that the Board structure could be revisited, by college and university tier. That would effectively create three tiers of Board expertise, one for community colleges, one for regional four-year universities, and one for research universities.

Morton brought forward an approval recommendation for Hagerott’s goals for the 2018-19 academic year. After being accepted, the Board discussed several other items, including a review of a proposal for the Theodore Roosevelt Library Lease termination, approved a request for Bismarck State College to develop structures necessary to pursue the possibility of becoming a Polytechnic Institution, and approved a request to designate North Dakota State University as the lead for cybersecurity. Hagerott also informed the board that Dickinson State University would begin efforts on dual mission work.

Dolan and Board member Nick Hacker brought forward business from the Board’s Budget and Finance committee, including a recommendation for UND to pave the gravel parking lot located west of the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center; a request for UND to begin a formal fundraising campaign for renovations; a request to retroactively approve increasing the 2019-21 budget request for the Academic and Career & Technical Education Scholarship program by $2.9 million; and a 2019-21 Budget Request modifications for SBARE entities (NDSU Extension, Main Research Center and branch Research Extension Centers) and the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI). All were approved.

Johnson and Morton brought forward the Board Academic and Student Affairs Committee business, which included recommendations for new programs, including an  A.A.S. in Sport and Recreation Management at Williston State College; an Associate of Arts (Liberal Arts Transfer) at Mayville State University; and an Associate of Arts at Valley City State University. The business also included several program terminations at Minot State University, including a B.A. in Economics, a B.A.S. in Applied Management, a B.A. in Studies in the Community and Environment, a B.S.Ed. in Physical Science Education, a M.A.T. in English Education, and a Physical Science Minor.

The Board heard other reports during the meeting from NDUS constituent groups. North Dakota Student Association President Jared Melville reported that the NDSA held its first meeting of the year and discussed priorities and its strategic plan. Council of College Faculty President Debora Dragseth provided a report that noted how CCF had voted in new officers and it looked forward to working with NDUS to serve students throughout the coming academic year. New Staff Senate President Cole Krueger reported that NDSA was monitoring relevant legislation, and was working together to find consensus across emerging issues.

Turtle Mountain Community College President Jim Davis spoke to the Board during the meeting as well, after the Board had extended an invitation to the state’s tribal college presidents to attend Board meetings. Davis noted that future discussions could help the university system and tribal colleges address shared concerns that affected student populations, and offered TMCC as a potential site for a future Board meeting.

In other business, the Board voted to approve the contract for North Dakota State College of Science President John Richman, held the first reading of Policy 605.1, which dealt with academic freedom and tenure, spoke about Board self-evaluations, audit reports, approved an honorary doctoral degree for Spencer Duin, and set the next two Board meetings for October 25 via Interactive Video Network, and December 6 at Bismarck State College.

Media Coverage Summary – Sept. 28

The following is a roundup of news on North Dakota University System’s 11 public colleges and universities for the week ending Friday, Sept. 28bismarc


Bismarck State College
High school juniors and seniors invited to campus Oct. 19

Dakota College at Bottineau
Enrollment up at Dakota College at Bottineau
Alumni awardees to be acknowledged at Dakota College at Bottineau banquet

Dickinson State University
Meet Ian Mabry, Dickinson State University’s new art professor and gallery director
Dickinson State’s SOAR Center raises money for Raise the Woof

Lake Region State College
Peace officer graduation

Mayville State University
‘Reverse study abroad’ opportunity will bring Denmark students to Mayville
Around the World potluck

Minot State University
Internship sparks Burckhard’s career
NOTSTOCK Art Festival: From Chicago to LA and places in-between
Minot State choir begins Norway experience at Norsk Høstfest
Two-Minute Lecture Series returns 

North Dakota State College of Science
NDSCS OTA Program to host CarFit event
NDSCS Electrical Technology Department to Celebrate 95 Years
Heyerman and Larson crowned 2018 NDSCS Homecoming Royalty
Daily News: NDSCS reports steady fall enrollment numbers
Daily News: Reaching for the Top

North Dakota State University
New Homecoming Court at NDSU Caps off a Magical Night for Students
New route for NDSU homecoming parade
Facing shrinking budget, NDSU president calls for optimism
New food research facility proposed, backed by industry
NDSU Students Look to Future at Agriculture and Business Career Expo

University of North Dakota
Big plans for One UND and beyond
Reaping the fruits of seeds sown
Big Data, the next big thing
Road to ‘R1’: More than a status symbol
Molmen’s mettle earns medal

Valley City State University
LaFave selected as new VCSU president
Presidential candidates validate our strengths

Williston State College
Historic Baseball Game Returns to WSC
Jurni Holte Selected as Next Miss WSC

North Dakota University System
New version of statewide education and workforce data visualization tool released

State Board of Higher Education selects new VCSU president

The State Board of Higher Education today named Dr. Alan LaFave as the next president of Valley City State University in Valley City, North Dakota. LaFave currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

During the interview, he emphasized the importance of student retention and collaboration with all 11 institutions across North Dakota. “It’s important that we have a unified system and that we all work together to make an impact on student success. We all achieve more if we work together,” LaFave said.

During his in-person visit to campus earlier this month, he said that he talked to several students on campus who praised their experiences as students at VCSU. “We need to be innovative and creative in our vision for the future. As president, I want to focus on affordability of education and collaboration with other institutions because that is paramount to the success of the entire state of North Dakota,” said LaFave. “My leadership style is all about personal attention and placing an emphasis on the interactions between students and professors. I like to see students succeed.”

The search for the next VCSU president began in March 2018. Dr. Margaret Dahlberg has been serving as interim president since December 2017.

“This was a difficult decision to make because we had excellent candidates brought forward by the presidential search committee,” said Don Morton, chair of the State Board of Higher Education. “I’m confident LaFave will provide the type of collaborative leadership that reflects the community of Valley City. I thank the search committee for their diligence in keeping community, students, staff and faculty central in their selection process.”

The presidential search committee was co-chaired by Wesley Wintch, VCSU’s vice president for business affairs, and Board member Greg Stemen, who led the effort to interview semifinalists and forward its recommendations for the position to the Board for final interviews.

“The 12-person committee consisted of a cross-section of the VCSU community, representatives of administration, faculty, staff, foundation, students, enrollment services and community members of Valley City. There were countless hours invested into the entire search process. We started by evaluating an initial pool of 50 applicants and eventually narrowed that pool to two highly qualified finalists for the Board’s consideration. I am confident that the best leader was chosen to lead VCSU into the future,” said Stemen.

LaFave holds a doctor of musical arts degree. He has served at Northern State University since 1991 in various capacities including tenured faculty, music department chair, associate dean, dean of graduate and extended studies, dean of the school of fine art and most recently the provost.

LaFave will take over as the 14th president of VCSU in December 2018. The new president succeeds Dr. Tisa Mason who served as VCSU president from December 2014 to December 2017.

New version of statewide education and workforce data visualization tool released

The North Dakota Information Technology Department (ITD) has issued a new version of the data visualization tool, which highlights statewide education and workforce information.

The revised website features significant enhancements including new college and workforce sections with integrated data. The new data enables users to view high-demand career fields, including certificates and degrees available in the state tied to those fields. is the state’s official source for data on public education, workforce supply and in-demand careers in the state. It integrates data from K-12, higher education, Job Service North Dakota and workforce development initiatives in the state to provide a broad view on public education and workforce opportunities. Insights includes K-12 data such as enrollment, graduation rates and post-secondary information by district and school.

The new version adds workforce data including high-demand fields of study and average salaries, as well as college enrollment, recent graduates and currently enrolled students by institution that can be compared to the high-demand fields to show workforce gaps and opportunities in various fields.

The new education and workforce details provide valuable analysis and drill-down capability for numerous stakeholders, illustrating North Dakota’s continued focus on harnessing technology to better serve citizens. The tool also supports the 21stcentury workforce pillar of Gov. Doug Burgum’s Main Street Initiative, which emphasizes a skilled workforce, smart, efficient infrastructure and healthy, vibrant communities to grow the state’s economy in a highly competitive global environment.

“Using data to make more informed decisions – whether as an economic developer, employer, student, educator or administrator – is a tangible example of a citizen-centric approach to governance,” said Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley. “Making these data visualization tools accessible to all citizens enables greater understanding of our state’s educational and workforce challenges and opportunities.”

The backbone of the website is the Statewide Longitudinal Data System, a data warehouse managed by ITD. Data is provided in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction, Career and Technical Education, the North Dakota University System, Job Service ND, Department of Commerce, school districts and workforce development programs. It is intended to inform policymakers, agencies, researchers, students, administrators, faculty and communities through readily accessible, visual data. The site is expected to expand functionality as additional efforts are pursued with partner organizations to further integrate available information.


[Released by ND ITD. Original release and screenshots can be found here.]

Joint Boards meeting puts focus on education

All of North Dakota’s educational governing bodies met this week in Bismarck to discuss changing times and changing strategies.

The Joint Boards meeting takes place once per year and brings together the State Board of Higher Education, State Board for Career and Technical Education, State Board of Public Education and the Education Standards and Practices Board, along with their respective organizational heads and others.

This week, the group met at Bismarck State College, where the overall themes of the meeting could be described as collaboration and strategizing. Don Morton, SBHE chair, kicked off the meeting with opening remarks that helped set the tone and pace of the meeting.

“Education is all about the future,” Morton noted. “We want to put our focus on a couple of things: Human Capital and Innovation. In those areas we will make our future stronger and offer more opportunity for student success.”

What that opportunity could be took shape in different ways, thanks to details provided by those present. North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott touched on a consensus-building strategic effort underway for two years called Envision 2030; Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Kirsten Baesler spoke about the strategic vision for K-12 in the state; representatives from NDCTE provided in-depth guidance on career pathways using the framework of “Six Essential Strategies for Creating Effective State Career Pathway Systems”; Dickinson State University President Thomas Mitzel provided an update on the topic of dual mission education; Bismarck State College President Larry C. Skogen gave a detailed presentation on how his campus could become the first polytechnic in the state; First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum talked about how Recovery Reinvented campaign affected the state’s schools; NDUS Director of Student Affairs Katie Fitzsimmons talked about challenges, trends and opportunities in the realm of student mental health; N.D. Educational Technology Council Director Rosi Kloberdanz gave an overview on the K-20 Workforce Cyber Education initiative; and DPI Director of Adult Education and Safe Health Schools Val Fischer spoke about safe and healthy schools.

Media Coverage Summary – Sept. 21

The following is a roundup of news on North Dakota University System’s 11 public colleges and universities for the week ending Friday, Sept. 21


Bismarck State College
Bismarck State College freshman enrollment up 6 percent
BSC team participates in United Way’s Little Black Dress Campaign

Dakota College at Bottineau
Dakota College has Record Enrollment

Dickinson State University
Dickinson State to observe Constitution Day Sept. 18
Fall 2018 CommUniversity offers classes from social media to art
DSU sees third year of increased student retention, overall enrollment dips slightly

Lake Region State College
Peace officer graduation

Mayville State University
Enrollment up again
‘Comet Proud’

Minot State University
Minot Symphony Orchestra opens 2018-19 season 
Minot State fall enrollment remains steady
Alumni Association honors five with Golden Award, Young Alumni Achievement Award

North Dakota State College of Science
NDSCS Fall Enrollment remains steady
NDSCS to celebrate Homecoming September 24-29, 2018
Daily News: William F. Rothwell Center for Science dedicated at NDSCS

North Dakota State University
Editorial: Funding research can give ND a brighter future
Bison $2 million softball complex dedicated, renamed Tharaldson Park
NDSU to celebrate 45 years of excellence in agriculture and Bison athletics
North Dakota FFA, NDSU to celebrate National Teach Ag Day
NDSU Partners with ND Cares: Furthering to Provide Support
Reflections on the Great Plains: Dr. Tom Isern publishes ‘Pacing Dakota’
Bison Nation Gets Ready for NDSU Homecoming Week
Soybean storage a concern for some farmers
‘For the long term, not a good option’: North Dakota farmers struggle to store soy
NDSU Gives Back to Community Through Serve With the Herd
NDSU Nursing Students Take Part In CPR Training
Raising voices: NDSU’s Miller teaches generations to sing
Balancing work and school

University of North Dakota
In their own words
$3M gift set in ‘Stone’
Legislative updates, IT plans and campus happenings highlight first Provost Forum
Brought into frame
Voices of strength

Valley City State University
VCSU presidential finalist Geller withdraws from search
VCSU sets enrollment record with 1,547 students

Williston State College
Record Fall Enrollment at WSC
WSC Student Prepares for European Musical Tour

North Dakota University System
Three candidates selected as finalists for VCSU presidency

Three candidates selected as finalists for VCSU presidency

The Presidential Search Committee at Valley City State University has selected three finalists for the VCSU presidency. After a round of campus visits by five candidates Sept. 10-12, the committee selected a trio of candidates for final interviews with the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education on the VCSU campus Sept. 27.

The finalists are:

  • Jack Geller, Ph.D., dean, College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, University of Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
  • Alan LaFave, D.M.A., provost and vice president for academic affairs, Northern State University (Aberdeen, South Dakota)
  • James Williams, Ph.D., MBA, vice president for student affairs, Emporia State University (Emporia, Kansas)

“These three candidates emerged from a robust round of campus interviews with students, faculty, staff and alumni, along with foundation and community representatives,” said Wesley Wintch, VCSU vice president for business affairs and co-chair of the search committee. “We are confident each would bring outstanding leadership experience to the Valley City State University presidency.”

The finalists will interview with the State Board of Higher Education in Valley City on Thursday morning, Sept. 27, with the selection of the next VCSU president announced thereafter.

Media Coverage Summary – Sept. 14

The following is a roundup of news on North Dakota University System’s 11 public colleges and universities for the week ending Friday, Sept. 14


Bismarck State College
BSC gets grant for mobile nursing simulation lab
BSC Theatre to present plays prepared in 24 hours

Dakota College at Bottineau
Student Scholarship Opportunity

Dickinson State University
DSU named one of the best universities in North Dakota
Dworshak receives Sigma Beta Delta Fellowship Award
Family Weekend at DSU

Lake Region State College
Peace officer graduation

Mayville State University
Comet Proud
Ribbon cutting highlights Farmer Bowl
After Hours social planned

Minot State University
Special Education to offer film showings and class to the public
Alumni Association honors five with Golden Award, Young Alumni Achievement Award
Roness named NDSHAPE College and University Physical Education Teacher of the Year 

North Dakota State College of Science
Daily News: William F. Rothwell Center for Science dedicated at NDSCS
NDSCS students earn awards at National SkillsUSA Championships

North Dakota State University
Suicide prevention in North Dakota
Simulation training center: ‘We can be a destination location for health care education’
Bauer named interim NDSU Animal Sciences head
Kolpack: Off the field, Bison quarterback Stick is an All-American good guy
NDSU online master’s degree program recognized for excellence
Graduate student research available online

University of North Dakota
UND remembers
UND Accounting has secret admirer
Perfect day for pie – and more
Honoring fallen fan by helping the team
Walk of the immigrants

Valley City State University
VCSU ranked 3rd among Midwest public regional colleges by U.S. News

Williston State College
A High Note for WSC Music Program

North Dakota University System
Mehus: Providing an educational vector for biology

Mehus: Providing an educational vector for biology

“Science is literally everywhere you go, every day, and all the time.”

Once the young Joseph O. Mehus heard that sentence as a high schooler, the world of science took on a whole new meaning. Spoken to him by his Hatton High School Science Teacher, David Hedland, Mehus found a new outlook within himself – the ability to apply a higher level of “big picture” thinking to any area of study.

According to him, it’s a notion that struck a chord. Now, Dr. Joseph O. Mehus, assistant professor of Biology and N.D. INBRE Researcher, helps to continue that outlook by sharing it with students at Mayville State University, where he is entering his sixth year at his alma mater.

Mehus found the opportunity to come back to MaSU when he was finishing his doctoral work in biology at University of North Dakota. While there, he discovered that there was going to be an open faculty position at MaSU and after a bit of research, applied to the school where he had received his Bachelor of Science in biology.

It’s here that Mehus is able to apply his extensive experience to the education of students, continuing on the big picture message that his high school teacher instilled in him.

“Now I try to get students to recognize that science surrounds them, it encompasses them, and it plays a role in everything from the cells they are made of to the neurotransmitters that influence their mood and behaviors,” Mehus said. “The best part of teaching biology is that I get to discuss the topics and ideas in an area of science that I find the most interesting and are part of every single person’s day whether they know about it or not. I also love to watch students grow personally, emotionally, and intellectually as they learn to apply concepts and facts to the everyday situations around them or troubleshoot to figure out why an experiment didn’t work, and to embrace learning about the wonderful diversity of plants, animals, humans and cultures that make up the world.”

While he enjoys all aspects of biology, his background in vector-transmitted diseases, vector ecology and population dynamics, and parasitology keep special places in his world, which mostly revolves around instruction, but includes oversight on undergraduate research. In the cases Mehus looks into, the vectors are arthropods that transmit diseases from wildlife to humans, and from humans to other humans. Think deer ticks and the pathogen Borrelia (Lyme disease), or mosquitoes and the pathogen Plasmodium (malaria) or a virus, such as West Nile, and one will understand a bit about Mehus’ wheelhouse of study.

“Because of my dedication to research in pathogens/parasites, my favorite courses to teach are Invertebrate Zoology, Parasitology, General Ecology, and any of the anatomy and physiology chapters focused on blood and the immune system,” he said. “I also enjoy discussing the endocrine system and reproductive biology.

Outside of that instruction, he’s able to expand students’ big picture outlooks through a research lab where he supervises three undergraduate research assistants. In that role, they focus on bioaccumulation of cadmium in local food webs. According to Mehus, that research is student driven, which allows students to hypothesize, design experiments, search literature databases, troubleshoot, analyze and present results in local, regional, and national scientific conferences.

In the past six years, the Biology Department has seen some positive changes, said Mehus, including continued online offerings like Anatomy and Physiology I and II. All classes still have lab components, and encourage students to think critically and provide in-depth answers instead of the more somewhat routine “fill-in-the-blank” options.

“The Biology Department as a whole has also undergone some fantastic changes that include the addition of numerous new courses such as Human Parasitology, Immunology, and Evolution… all courses that were not previously offered on our campus,” he noted. “The addition of these new courses allows for students to branch out and take elective courses that they have, for many years, never had the opportunity to participate in during their endeavor to achieve their goals. This allows us to offer a couple of different tracks for Biology majors… one in health/medical sciences, and another in wildlife and research careers.”

Outside of his work in biology, Mehus has worked to design cross-curricular assignments and assessments within the Division of Liberal Arts in collaboration with Professor Lonamalia Smith, specifically in Sociology 110, Introduction to Sociology, dealing with the social construct and scientific viewpoint of race.  Mehus and Smith have also collaborated in Smith’s Sociology 355, Drugs and Society course, in the areas of addiction and neurobiology. These assessments and activities also were utilized in Mehus’ Anatomy and Physiology courses at Mayville State University.

In addition to teaching/course development, he is also a member of the North Dakota State University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) which oversees its institution’s animal program, facilities, and procedures. According to Mehus, there are many more hats to be worn than just “teacher.”

He has served as the Division of Science and Math’s faculty senator and during that time reviewed numerous policies dealing with academics and faculty issues. He has been a co-advisor to the MaSU Science Club for three years, which has seen increased participation by science majors in the club, as well as student-community interactions. With the help of co-advisor Jeff Hovde, Mehus as written grants to rejuvenate a long-forgotten resource, the Mayville Nature Trail, which gives local clubs, schools, and universities that chance to utilize a great scientific, educational resource that has been previously underutilized. According to him, the Science Club has also participated in numerous community events to include fundraising, helping out with local vendor shows, and participating in science fair judging at Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks, and the STEM Carnival that is hosted by our Division of Education.

Mehus is also active in MaSU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI).

“Under the guidance of Dr. Dina Zavala-Petherbridge, the ODI has worked extremely hard to bring to light issues surrounding our under-represented students,” Mehus noted. “This year I have been trained as a Safe-Zone Ally trainer. In addition to that, I was also selected by one of our students of diverse backgrounds as an employee Mentor who played a role in our student’s educational careers. I have never felt so honored to be chosen, by one of my students, as someone who helped them achieve one of their major life goals, it is extremely humbling.”

Additionally, he was on the planning committee for the Great Plains Affirming Campuses Conference, which was hosted by MaSU this past year.

“This conference addresses issues related to campus inclusion of LGBTQIA+ students by gathering folks of the community and allies from our area for advocacy,” he added. “Last year, I was a panel member for faculty and students in which we discussed issues of advocacy within the classroom and student interactions with faculty and other students. I am also on the HLC committee at MaSU and have also put together the review of the Biology Program.”

He concluded that although MaSU was relatively small, there were large opportunities for students.

“The Division of Science and Math is strong, with well qualified faculty members that offer research opportunities that, during my undergraduate time, were not offered to students previously, forcing us to search out research opportunities at the larger research institutions within North Dakota, now our students can gain these experiences in-house,” he said. “These areas of research cover the realms of botany, zoology, developmental biology, ecology, toxicology, biochemistry and enzyme kinetics. The lab opportunities are extremely beneficial to students who are looking into medical or research careers.”