May 15th, 2012 @ 1:03 pm | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
As I have done the past three years, this column represents a Top 10 List of Valley City State University accomplishments from throughout the just-completed academic year. Thanks to the efforts of our faculty, staff, students, and supporters, there is much of which to be proud as we conclude the 2011-12 academic year. Here is the fourth annual 'VCSU Top 10 List of Accomplishments' (in no particular order):

1) In October 2011, VCSU hosted a site visit team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is the regional accrediting agency that has responsibility for accrediting colleges and universities in 19 states (including ND). The work to plan for this visit had been underway for the past two years and involved virtually every employee on campus. As a result of this visit and the accompanying documentation we provided, VCSU has received a ten-year accreditation renewal. This full accreditation renewal is important, and it signifies the rigor and quality of VCSU's academic programs as well as the robust learning environment provided here.

2) Fall 2011 enrollment of 1,384 students was the largest in the 120+ year history of VCSU. We welcomed another historically large freshmen class to campus last fall, and are anticipating a third straight large incoming class in Fall 2012. VCSU also enrolled 157 Master's students; a record number since the inception of the graduate program seven years ago. To accommodate this growth throughout the campus, several new full-time faculty instructors and other staff positions have been hired for 2012-13.

3) Last weekend, VCSU held its 120th Commencement Exercises with a graduating class of approximately 250 undergraduate and Masters students. Of note, the very first student graduating with an M.Ed. concentration in Teaching English Language Learners received her diploma during the Ceremonies. During Commencement, we also recognized students earning their nursing credentials as part of VCSU's collaborative program with Dakota College at Bottineau through the Dakota Nursing Program. We wish the 2012 Graduating Class all the best with their next steps, and thank them for the many contributions they have made to Valley City State.

4) The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) division of the American Library Association (ALA) recognized VCSU's Master of Education (M.Ed.) Library and Information Technologies (LIT) concentration as a quality school librarianship program. VCSU is the only university in a four-state region (MN, ND, SD and MT) with a nationally recognized program of this type. The LIT concentration is designed for practicing librarians who wish to further their careers with graduate-level credentials, or teachers wishing to gain new credentials. Previous recognition the M.Ed. program has received includes a $573,909 IMLS grant in 2007 and an ALA/AASL statement of commendation in 2008.

5) Thanks to a very mild winter, significant progress has been made on the Rhoades Science Center expansion during the past six months. The $10.3 million project includes an approximately 27,000 square foot expansion that is transforming the east end of campus. The project will also include a complete renovation of the existing Rhoades structure set to begin this summer. When the entire project is completed in August 2013, Rhoades will be a state-of-the-art, preeminent facility in the state of North Dakota for undergraduate science education.

The list is only half-finished. Unfortunately, like the past three years, due to space constraints it will be a two-part series. Check the next column for five more entries in VCSU's 2011-12 Top Ten list.