Mar 4th, 2003 @ 1:21 pm | Author: Ellen-Earle Chaffee, President
We got a fantastic holiday present from our students last week in the form of results from a survey they completed last fall. The study showed that students at Valley City State University want the same things from their university as students at other four-year colleges. The difference is that at VCSU they are more likely to get what they want.

The North Dakota University System selected the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory as the best available tool to assess student satisfaction as part of a legislatively mandated accountability system. All NDUS campuses administered the survey in fall 2002. Individual questions are clustered to form 11 scales: academic advising, campus climate, campus life, campus support services, concern for the individual, instructional effectiveness, recruitment and financial aid, registration effectiveness, safety and security, service excellence, and student centeredness.

Nearly 400 VCSU students completed the 115- item questionnaire to measure their satisfaction with the university on these 11 key services. On all 11 scales, students at VCSU were significantly more satisfied than the average for students at other four-year colleges both in the state and nationwide.

This has to be our crowning glory. In the last year we have won several state and national awards and received the official seal of approval from three accrediting agencies. But at the end of the day, what really matters is what students think. This strong positive affirmation from the students of VCSU validates all the other honors.

Glen Schmalz, vice president for student affairs, analyzed the results to determine what areas we need to target in order to increase student satisfaction. At VCSU, as at most universities, students’ top priority for improvement is parking. A new lot is scheduled for use by next fall.

Their next priority is financial aid. This is a major issue not only for students but also for the university. Federal and state aid funds are not increasing, while tuition must increase to cover shortfalls in state funding. My recent appointment to serve only VCSU came with a mandate for private fund-raising, and scholarship aid for students is my top priority.

About a decade ago, students often looked first at campus size when they chose VCSU. Times have changed. At the top of their list this year were cost and financial aid, confirming the importance of making college affordable. Academic reputation also outranked size as a drawing card for VCSU this time. This is an very positive result, showing that students recognize and appreciate the university’s focus on quality.

Students gave their highest satisfaction ratings to campus safety, reputation in the community, campus maintenance, caring and helpful staff members, knowledgeable faculty, intramural activities, student center, and welcoming atmosphere. These results pay tribute to the exceptional faculty and staff at VCSU. Thank you all.