MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

September 26, 2020 

Hard work leads to positive outcomes and delivering important services to the people of North Dakota

Tuesday, Sept. 22 was fall semester census day for North Dakota University System institutions. I’m pleased to say that while our headcount has dropped a bit (3.6%), our Full Time Equivalent (FTE) is up ever-so-slightly. I am Comet Proud of our faculty and staff who have worked extremely hard to impact enrollment this fall.

In figuring FTE, the number of credits that are being pursued by all students, full- and part-time, are added up and then divided by what is considered to be a full-time load (12 credits). Essentially, this number represents the number of students enrolled if all were full-time students.

The most exciting news this fall is that we have a 30% increase in the number of first-year students, as well as an increase in degree-seekers. Our first-time, full-time retention rate has increased by 3.4% as well. Our total student population is made up of 63.87% North Dakota residents and 16.78% Minnesota residents.

The decrease in headcount this fall can be largely attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and the hardships is has caused for adult students who tend to study online or at a distance. These people have lost jobs, experienced salary cuts, and have day care and school-related complications with children. We expect to see these students return when the pandemic concerns have leveled out.

I had the privilege of representing Mayville State University at a meeting of the North Dakota Legislative Council Interim Higher Education Committee meeting on Sept. 14. The meeting took place at the capitol building in Bismarck. A number of people joined the meeting virtually, but I was happy I could attend in person.

My presentation to the legislators included an overview of Mayville State, showing the important services Mayville State University provides for the citizens of North Dakota. I also shared specific information related to enrollment, budget, and more. Highlighting the fact that Mayville State is filling a niche and serving the needs of North Dakota, one of the statistics I provided is that 69% of Mayville State graduates work in North Dakota or are continuing their education. Nearly 800 Mayville State alumni teach in North Dakota.

I had the opportunity to share information about two of our most innovate new academic programs. A new Master of Science degree in nursing is preparing nurses who are seeking or advancing their roles in nursing education and leadership and management. The program is offered entirely online in five-week blocks, allowing those working in the field to continue to do so pursing higher education. Of the nursing students enrolled at Mayville State, 66% are from North Dakota and are working full-time.

The new Bachelor of Science degree in agribusiness is providing students with an enhanced skill set and expands their knowledge, allowing them to excel in all aspects of business related to farming, ranching, producing, and marketing of agricultural commodities. The program is offered through traditional delivery, as well as online and hybrid methods.

Another point of pride demonstrated in my presentation is related to growth in the MSU Foundation. Foundation assets have increased from $6.48 million in 2014-15 to $9.32 million at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year. In addition, annual giving has increased substantially in the last few years. In 2017-18, $634,882 was raised. Figures show that $833,981 was raised in annual giving for 2019-20. The North Dakota Challenge Grant funding has had a big impact in the success of the Foundation, and I urged the legislators to consider funding the match program again in the next biennium. The Challenge Grant provides one dollar of match for every two dollars raised in private donations. We at Mayville State are grateful for our supportive alumni and friends who are responsible for the success of the MSU Foundation, and also for the North Dakota University System and a legislative body and governor who understand the value of education.

I was able to make an appeal to the legislators for continued base-funding levels as well as legislative funding support for our $1.6 million natural gas boiler capital project. The project is extremely important to Mayville State and will allow us to use natural gas as a heating source that will provide efficiencies for our institution. Mayville State’s commitment to the use of natural gas was instrumental in the effort to secure the presence of natural gas in Traill County. Until now, natural gas was not available in this area. Having access to this commodity will be of benefit to our businesses and residents.

The fall is an extremely busy time at the university. It is gratifying to see us settle in to a new normal related to the pandemic, and I am thankful that our efforts to help keep people safe and healthy have been effective to date. We will continue to be diligent in our work as the academic year progresses and we provide important services that make a difference for North Dakota.