Actually, the Vikings have earned this honor every year since 2002-03, but this year, we received the highest score in the state and the second highest score in the 16-member Association of Independent Institutions. We think this says a lot about the quality of our student-athletes and their competitiveness both on and off the court.
VCSU entered into an articulation agreement with the North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) that allows for transfer of credits from the Associate in Applied Science degree in Technical Studies – Journeyworker Track at NDSCS to the Bachelor of Science degree in Career and Technical Education from VCSU. The agreement, the first of its kind in North Dakota, addresses some of the main obstacles adult learners face as they further their education, substantially reduces the time and cost required to earn a Bachelor's degree, and helps address private sector employment needs in North Dakota.
2011 was a big year in Viking athletics as the Viking women basketball team finished the season with a record of 23-8, its first appearance in the NAIA national tournament. In the Fall, the NAIA selected the Viking football team as a qualifier for the NAIA Football Championship Series. The Viking men finished the season with a record of 9-1.
VCSU extended a sister university agreement with the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur (UABCS) in La Paz, Mexico for an additional three years, and extended it to provide for the exchange of staff members and students in non-teaching majors. Several representatives of VCSU visited UABCS in February, and VCSU hosted visitors from UABCS in April. Separately, faculty, staff, and students from VCSU have exchanged visits and study abroad experiences with the Zhejiang Economic and Trade Polytechnic (ZJETP) in Hangzhou, China.
In a major improvement to VCSU's athletic facilities, the Viking football field received a new artificial turf surface, made possible by a major contribution from Shelly Ellig, the Fargo-area businessman and philanthropist. The new surface also allows the field to be used for many other purposes including hosting games for area high-schools and other community events. Other major contributors included the Valley City/Barnes County Economic Development, the City of Valley City Visitors Committee, DuWayne Bott, Dacotah Bank, Bob and Jan Ingstad - Ingstad Family Media, AmericInn, Grotberg Electric, Leevers Super Valu, and Nodak Mutual Insurance.
Representatives from the Higher Learning Commission visited the VCSU campus as a key step in the reaccreditation process conducted once every 10 years. At the conclusion of the visit, the team announced their intention to recommend reaccreditation, commented on VCSU's pattern of success and growth in recent years, and observed that VCSU appears to be experiencing a period of "glory days."
The VCSU campus is seeing a tremendous amount of capital construction. In one major development, VCSU completed a $3.5 million renovation of Snoeyenbos residence hall, converting it into apartment style suites and providing several mechanical updates. This fall, we broke ground on a major expansion and renovation of the Rhoades Science Center that will increase our capacity in the sciences, improve our ability to respond to the pressing needs of North Dakota, and position the campus as a premier destination for undergraduate-based science education and research.
U.S.News has ranked VCSU on its list of "Best Colleges" every year for the last 14, but this year, VCSU was ranked as the #1 Public Regional College in the Midwest. Dr. Steven Shirley, VCSU president, said, "This remarkable accomplishment is a milestone in VCSU's history. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters should all take great pride in earning this historic achievement at VCSU."
In a direct reflection of the tremendous financial support VCSU has received from alumni, friends and the business community, scholarship commitments for the 2010-11 academic year reached a new record at $757,000.
Spring semester 2011 headcount came to 1,221, an increase of 18% over the previous year's figure and the largest Spring semester enrollment since the University moved to a three semester academic year in the Summer of 1992. Growth spanned both graduate and undergraduate levels as well as every Division of the University.
VCSU also set a new all-time record for Fall semester enrollment. Final headcount of 1,384 surpassed headcount from Fall 2010 by 7.7% and the previous record set over 40 years ago. With this accomplishment, enrollment at VCSU has grown by over 40% over the past four years.