MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

May 28, 2016



Envision 2030 brings together many perspectives for planning for the future of North Dakota


I had the pleasure of participating in the Envision 2030 at the state capitol in Bismarck on May 23. During the day-long summit, about 160 people who are passionate about education met to discuss the future of it in North Dakota. Members of the State Board of Higher Education, Chancellor Mark Hagerott and representatives of the North Dakota University System, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Rep. Mark Sanford, many other legislators, students, and educators, as well as business and community leaders spent the day focusing on what education in North Dakota will look like in the year 2030.

Why Envision 2030? The graduating high school senior class of 2030 is in kindergarten today. There’s no time like the present to put plans in motion. With a multitude of perspectives present during the summit, we all had the opportunity to become aware of not only how we should be doing things, but also why.

The summit began with a welcome from Kathleen Neset, chair of the State Board of Higher Education. We were delighted when she introduced two Mayville State students, Taylor Benneweis, who will be a senior next fall, and Brittany Boyer, who graduated on May 14. (See photo above.) Neset was eager to point out to members of the audience that the impetus for the summit was to provide the best possible experiences for students. She took that one step further when she introduced 10-year-old Aiden, who gave brief remarks about his hopes and dreams and his goal to become an aerospace engineer.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Rep. Mark Sanford, chairman of the Interim Higher Education Committee, and NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott each had some time on the program to present their points of view, as well as challenge those in attendance to do what they can to ensure a bright future.

A panel on demographics was moderated by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley. Members of the panel were Kevin Iverson, manager of the North Dakota Census Office, representing North Dakota Demographics; Kirsten Baeseler, North Dakota Superintendent of Public instruction, representing K-12 demographics; Dr. Larry Skogen, president of Bismarck State College, representing campus demographics and missions; and Andy Peterson, President and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, representing workforce needs.

Scott Jenkins, Director of State Policy with the Lumina Foundation, and Susan Heegaard, North Dakota State Advisor for Lumina Strategy Labs addressed the assembly over a working lunch. Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an equitable, accessible, responsive, and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action. Lumina Foundation is the nation’s largest private foundation focused solely on increasing Americans’ success in higher education.

Members of the audience had an opportunity to let their voices be heard during breakout sessions that convened throughout the afternoon. Each session covered a particular topic. The nine topics of discussion were agriculture, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, technology, the whole student, tomorrow’s student, diversity, and liberal arts/humanities. The charge in each of the breakout sessions was to set goals for varied and distinct areas of need for the future of North Dakota, determining how the North Dakota University System will foster that process along. Each of the sessions had State Board of Higher Education representation, along with an NDUS representative and subject matter experts to weigh in on the issues.

SBHE member Dr. Kevin Melicher and I led the healthcare session, together with subject matter experts, Dr. Josh Wynne, Vice President of Health Affairs Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of North Dakota, Dr. Charles Peterson, Dean of the College of Health Professions at North Dakota State University, and Dr. David Glatt, family medicine doctor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Sanford in Fargo. Several other professionals representing the healthcare field, and others, joined in our discussion, and many important topics were discussed.

Our group came up with a number of critical points to consider for the future, and I feel there are ways Mayville State can get involved with helping to solve some of the problem areas. We have already begun to assist with the critical nursing shortage in North Dakota through our partnership with the Dakota Nursing Program and Lake Region State College, as well as our newly established RN-BSN nursing program. It is our privilege to assist the citizens of our state in this way, and we look forward to exploring new ways in which we can be of further assistance.

Envision 2030 was the beginning of what looks to be some wonderful collaboration among the State Board of Higher Education, the North Dakota University System, business leaders, community leaders, legislators, and many others. We look forward to seeing how our shared vision for education in North Dakota will look, and how we can make the educational opportunities in North Dakota even better for the high school graduates of 2030, as well as those who come before and after.