MSU President's Newspaper Column

March 19, 2022

Communicating Mayville State’s impact

Last week I had the honor of representing Mayville State University at the governor’s higher education strategy review meetings, where Governor Doug Burgum and his leadership team heard from North Dakota University System (NDUS) Office personnel and each of the NDUS institution presidents. It was good to be at the capitol building in Bismarck and to be given the opportunity to have a conversation about the great work that is happening at Mayville State University. 

One of the things we do best at Mayville State University is educating and developing the whole student. True to our motto, “The School of Personal Service,” at Mayville State, students can expect not only intellectual development, but also opportunities for personal growth, volunteerism, community involvement, character development, and social, emotional, and personal development. Leadership opportunities naturally flow out of this environment. Residential students often talk about how their relationships with community members greatly enhance their overall experience.

Mayville State University serves an important niche in North Dakota. A very high percentage of our students come from small communities in our state. Did you know that 65% of all Mayville State students are from North Dakota?

We significantly impact the workforce needs in our state. As an example, in 2021, 11 of the 56 North Dakota mathematics education graduates who passed the Praxis test came from Mayville State University. This represents a great impact from a small campus in a workforce shortage area and shows great work by our mathematics faculty.

Because of our size, we are able to adapt quickly to the state’s needs. Our RN-to-BSN, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Master of Education (M.Ed.), agribusiness, and fully online biology programs are examples of our adaptability and willingness to be flexible to help meet critical needs of the state. The nursing and M.Ed. programs offer courses in accelerated formats that make it easier for students enrolled to maintain their employment while furthering their education. The new agribusiness program is offered on campus and online, allowing those who may be place-bound on their farms and ranches to pursue college degrees. Mayville State’s recently developed fully online biology program is extremely unique. Even the labs are available online as lab kits are assembled and sent to students who can then complete their hands-on lab assignments from their homes. Again, this allows the students enrolled to remain where they are and continue employment while working toward college degrees.

We will continue to adapt and innovate teaching strategies that promote opportunities for traditional and adult working students. We intend to develop more accelerated programs in innovative ways, helping to produce more graduates in high demand areas.

I was able to share some of Mayville State’s challenges with the governor and his leaders as well. Restricted resources make innovation and growth difficult. Attracting talent to our small community can be challenging because of compensation restrictions and housing limitations. Providing adequate facilities, including student housing, for our growing campus is not easy. In addition, it is expensive to market our new and innovative programs to prospective students and securing the funding needed to develop new programs is difficult. While there are things to work through, we are up to the challenge and eager to keep pressing on.

At Mayville State, we are rolling up our sleeves to be responsive North Dakota’s needs. Over the next five years, we will continue to improve our budget situation. We are very proud of the work that has helped us to improve our CFI fiduciary position, a great effort toward creating sustainability. We will continue to leverage the power of the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Grant fund to help us provide scholarship opportunities for students. The MSU Foundation assets have increased 162% over the past ten years, thanks to our kind and generous donors and the impact of the Challenge Grant.

My presentation wrapped up with a discussion on our priority budget request for consideration in the legislative session that begins in January of 2023. To improve safety and modernize the learning and working environment, we are requesting funding to renovate Old Main. We are a growing and expending university and this space is integral to the work that happens on our campus every day. It is important that we address the life safety needs in this highly used facility.

I truly valued the opportunity to talk with Governor Burgum and his key administrators. Their attention to what I had to say and recognition of Mayville State’s efforts to develop workforce in shortage areas and do good things for North Dakota were very much appreciated.