MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

April 20, 2019 

On-campus and online opportunities are integral to Mayville State’s service to our region and state

Van Horn award 04-2019.jpgThe Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) is an organization with which I have been involved for many years, and I had the opportunity to attend the ACHE South region conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn. April 1-4. ACHE South is a dynamic network of diverse professionals who are dedicated to promoting excellence in continuing higher education and to sharing their expertise and experience with one another. The region is comprised of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. International locations include Caribbean, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.

In 2012, I served as the International ACHE President. I have also served in various leadership positions, including participating in this year’s First Timers program. The experience was great in so many ways. It is always refreshing to get together with people who share the same passions and goals. In addition, working on best practices is always valuable to improving our services.

During the conference, I was honored and humbled to receive the Continuing Education Leadership Award. The award is presented to an individual by ACHE in recognition of outstanding service in the field of continuing higher education. According to the guidelines, individuals nominated for this award should have made extraordinary contributions that are widely recognized regionally or nationally over an extended period of time, provided significant leadership in the cause of continuing education - credit or non-credit, be a member or past member of ACHE, be a member or past member of ACHE South, and performed various service functions within the regional organization. It was a very heart-warming experience to be honored by colleagues with whom I have worked for many years, and who are so very special to me.

Continuing higher education is a topic about which I am passionate. I truly believe in the importance of serving the people of our region, state, and beyond through extended learning opportunities. At Mayville State, our online course offerings and programs are thriving. We are serving folks who may be place-bound and whose only opportunity to continue their education is through online means.

Just one example of thriving online programs at Mayville State is the RN-to-BSN nursing program. The program is designed to assist current full time practicing registered nurses in pursuing baccalaureate degrees in nursing while maintaining their current employment and providing support to their families. Because of the nursing shortage in North Dakota and the need to retain nurses in the healthcare setting, healthcare facilities can’t afford to give their employees time off to pursue advanced education. By offering online courses, each in five-week blocks, registered nurses are able to meet their educational goals one class at a time while continuing to contribute to the healthcare workforce.

Through the RN-to-BSN online nursing program Mayville State is educating nurses at the baccalaureate degree level in order to equip them to better serve the healthcare needs of the citizens of North Dakota and beyond. The need for nurses is especially great in rural areas, including our own. The program benefits all of us by supplying much-needed nursing staff for our local, area, and regional healthcare facilities, as well as facilities nationwide.

It is interesting to note that the greatest percentage of those enrolled in Mayville State’s online programs come from the 150-mile radius around Mayville. This is also the area from which most of our traditional residential students come. Maintaining a substantial residential student population is extremely important as well. While we serve students beyond the 150-mile radius, we are making a great impact in this region and other rural areas of North Dakota. If we exclude the three largest cities in the state, we know that our niche market makes up about 67% of North Dakota’s population. We are fulfilling an important need for the citizens of our state.

I am deeply appreciative of those who recognize the important role Mayville State University plays, and I thank the Traill County Tribune and the Grand Forks Herald for their work in helping to inform the public in this regard. The Tribune is constant and faithful in supporting our mission, and we were honored by the Grand Forks Herald’s recent feature on the good things happening at Mayville State University. We are grateful that these newspapers recognize that the public still likes to read good news.

Photo caption: My ACHE colleagues Dr. Amy Johnson, East Tennessee State University (center), and Dr. Rick Osborn, East Tennessee State University (right), presented the prestigious Continuing Education Leadership Award to me during our recent conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn.