Component A: The organization demonstrates, through the action of its board, administrators, students, faculty, and staff, that it values a life of learning.

Valley City State University demonstrates through board policy, strategic planning, financial allocation, campus policies, and faculty-student interactions that it values a life of learning.
Policies That Support Academic Freedom and Expression
The guiding principles that support academic freedom and expression for faculty and students on campuses in the North Dakota University System are identified in SBHE Policy 401.1, which states in part,
  • The responsible academic community welcomes those who take an ideological or policy position and jealously guards their right to do so. The academic community must be hospitable even to closed minds and it must welcome the conflict of ideas likely to ensue. Academic responsibility to provide opportunity for expression of diverse points of view generates academic freedom.
This same policy provides for faculty freedom to research, publish, lecture, and conduct demonstrations in their field of expertise, while urging faculty responsibility for accuracy, sound judgment, and respect for the rights of others to express opinions. Students’ rights are also identified in this policy:

  • Instruction by unfettered teachers
  • Access to all information pertinent to the subject of study
  • Freedom to select their curriculum, instructors, and associates
  • Intellectual disagreement with instructors and associates without fear of reprisal

SBHE Policy 605.1 identifies tenure as a means to assure academic freedom for faculty, and references the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure(Rev. 1990) that was adopted by the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges.

VCSU Policy V530.2 provides further protection of students' freedom of expression:

  • The professor in the classroom and in conference should encourage free discussion, inquiry, and expression. Student performance is to be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.
  • Students are free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.

Students are protected through academic grievance procedures from capricious grading or other retaliatory action.

Financial and Planning Support for the Life of Learning

All activities and learning opportunities at the University stem from and are integrally related to the university strategic plan (VCSU 2015). The first goal of VCSU 2015 is "to provide accessible, innovative, high-quality educational experiences and programs for all students." Each of the actions listed under this goal supports, in a specific way, the life of learning - through improvements in technology, assessment, communication with employers, international partnerships, and development of new STEM initiatives.

Because the University values the life of learning and supports a low student to faculty ratio, a significant percentage of revenue is allocated to direct instructional cost. Table 7.1 compares VCSU expenditures per FTE student with peer expenditures.

Table 7.1  Expenditures per FTE (FY 2008)

VCSU is comparable to its peers only in dollars allocated to direct instructional cost. Recent budget decisions by the VCSU Cabinet demonstrate a continued support for instruction: as increased enrollment has increased revenues, Cabinet has approved two new faculty lines in FY 11 and two more in FY 12.

Support for Faculty

The standard faculty contract designates 80% teaching, 10% service, and 10% scholarly activity. All faculty evaluation materials require faculty to describe their work in each of these areas. To support this contractual requirement, several policies indicate an understanding of the faculty need for time and active faculty development. VCSU Policy V605.13 (Office Hours) reserves the right of faculty to uninterrupted periods of study; policies V605.10 and V701.2 further support the importance of faculty development and developmental leave.

Funding for Faculty Development and Travel. The University offers its faculty a variety of on-campus professional developmental activities, and supports faculty participation in regional and national professional activities. During the first half of the past decade, VCSU was the recipient of a faculty development grant from the Bush Foundation, which supported annual summer institutes and faculty travel to conferences. A listing of the Bush-supported summer workshops is presented in Table 7.2:

Table 7.2  Bush Grant-Supported Summer Workshops

At the conclusion of the grant period, the University continued to support the summer institutes, and developed a travel budget to support conference activity. Typically the summer institutes are focused on assessment, and directed by the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs. Faculty travel requests for faculty development are reviewed by the Faculty Development Committee and funded through the Academic Affairs travel budget. Table 7.3 indicates the number of funded requests and amount spent on faculty development travel in AY 10 and 11. Guidelines for requesting travel support and a description of how dollars are awarded is published on the Academic Professional Development website.

Table 7.3 Faculty Development Travel

Both the Graduate Office and the Technology Advisory Committee have developed mini-grant processes to further support faculty research and classroom innovation; these funding opportunities are communicated through email each semester to faculty. Those who receive funding either for travel or research are asked to share their results with campus, through presentations at divisional meetings and, in the case of travel, through brief summaries published in the Hotline.

Faculty Brown Bags and the Instructional Design Team. In Fall 2010, the Academic Affairs office sponsored two related initiatives to support improved instruction at VCSU. A faculty member in each division was designated the divisional instructional design leader, for which s/he received quarter-time release. These five individuals formed the University's Instructional Design Team, with responsibilities for supporting individual faculty instructional needs, especially (but not exclusively) in technology. A campus survey in March 2011 indicated general satisfaction with this support, and the initiative will continue during AY 12.

The Design Team, under the leadership of an interim instructional designer, sponsored a weekly brown bag series for faculty. Topics during 2010-11 included (complete schedule in Resource room):

  • Technology issues: Wimba, Blackboard (Tests, Gradebook), Panopto, ConnectND
  • Web tools: Web 2.0, Wikis, Google Docs, TeacherTube, Online library materials
  • Campus issues: Switching to Macs, La Paz professor visit, Emergency preparedness
  • Teaching issues: Laptops in the classroom, Service Learning, Copyright and Plagiarism

Attendance at these sessions ranged from 10-30. All materials were archived in a Blackboard Organization "course", so materials remain easily accessible to all faculty when needed.

A Sampling of Faculty Publications and Presentations. A complete bibliography of VCSU faculty and staff publications and presentations, 2005-2011, is available in the online resource room. The following sample suggests the scope of activity faculty are engaged in:

  • Aus, Joan. "Second-Language Acquisition-Putting Theory into Practice."(preface) Allyn: Bacon, February 12, 2010.
  • Aus, Joan. "Monolingual Practices of ELL Teachers in Multilingual Schools." TESOL Quarterly, March, 12, 2009.
  • Bass, Dave, Schultz, Molly, Francis, Cassie. "Peer Educators Do Work: We Do It." 19th Annual International Conference on the First Year Experience, Toronto, Canada, July 2006.
  • Gigante Klingenstein, Beth. The Independent Piano Teacher's Studio Handbook, Hal Leonard Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2009.
  • Gregoryk, Kerry. "Virtual presentation and published article." EduLearn 09 - International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies - Barcelona, Spain, July 2009.
  • Gregoryk, K. L., & Eighmy, M. A. "Interaction among undergraduate students: Does age matter?" College Student Journal, 44(1), 2010.
  • Hagen, Sara. "What's New in Music Technology." Washburn, ND for Consortium inservice, August, 2009.
  • Hoskisson, Dale. "Teaching to the Soul in an Online Graduate Course: A Personal Journey" Eighteenth International conference for Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, San Antonio, Texas, 2007.
  • Hoskisson, Dale, Gary Thompson, Dave Bass. "Student Technology Consultants: An Experiment in Collaboration." Integrated Technologies, Innovative Learning: Insights from the PT3 Program. International Society for Technology in Education, Eugene, Oregon, 2005.
  • Russell, Julee. "Digital Video in the Methods Classroom." Presentation to National Council of Teachers of English conference, 2006.
  • Sellnow, D. & Ziniel, J. R. Rhetorical Strategies of Visual Pleasure in Situation Comedies: "Friends" and Female Body Image. Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota, 34, 2007.
  • Slator, Brian M., Richard Beckwith, Lisa Brandt, Harold Chaput, Jeffrey T. Clark, Lisa M. Daniels, Curt Hill, Phil McClean, John Opgrande, Bernhardt Saini-Eidukat, Donald P. Schwert, Bradley Vender, and Alan R. White. Electric Worlds in the Classroom: Teaching and Learning with Role-Based Computer Games. New York: Teachers College Press, 2006.
  • Van Gijssel, H.E., Leil, T.A., Weinberg, W.C., Divi R.l., Olivero, O.A. and Poirier, M.C. Cisplatin-DNA damage in p21WAF1/Cip1 deficient mouse keratinocytes exposed to cisplatin. Mutagenesis, 22:49-54, 2007. (Epub 2006 Dec 8).
  • VanHorn, S., Pearson, J. C., and Child, J. T. "The online communication course: The challenges." Qualitative Research Reports, 9, 29-36, 2008.
  • VanHorn, S. B. "Enhancing the face-to-face course with online material. In Goodnight, L, & Wallace, S." The Online Basic Course: Tips and Tools for the Instructor. pp. 85-91. Iowa: Kendall Hunt, 2005.

Support for Students

Faculty in several academic areas have made deliberate efforts to promote student engagement in academic research, either through coursework or in co-curricular activities.

Student Scholar Symposium. Faculty members of the Communication Arts and Social Sciences Division developed the Student Scholar Symposium in 2005, to offer students the opportunity to engage in public discussion of their projects for specific courses. Originally, students in the Communication Arts and Social Sciences Division created visual presentations via tri-fold poster boards. Typically faculty required all students in specific courses to participate. Faculty and staff members visited with the students and evaluated their projects and presentations. Awards were then presented for the top projects as evaluated by the judges and by the viewers. This symposium was open to the campus community and took place at the end of Fall and Spring semesters.

Six years later, the symposium has developed into a more deliberate scholarly event. Faculty members now choose top projects in their courses to be shown at the symposium. Wandering Scholars engage the students in discussion with their projects. While the tri-fold posters still exist, many students use other options, such as power point presentations or the large posters seen in regional and national academic conferences. The Business and Information Technology Division has joined in sponsoring the symposium. Students send in applications for the symposium and programs describe the students' projects and the assignment created by the professor. The symposium is now open to all divisions and occurs each spring semester.

Honor Societies. Faculty in many program areas sponsor student organizations to enable like-minded students to socialize and participate in service projects for the campus or community. In some cases, these programs also support a local chapter of an honor society, allowing them to recognize academic achievement in the program area. English (Sigma Tau Delta), History (Phi Alpha Theta), and Business Education (Pi Omega Pi) are examples of current, program-specific honor societies on campus.

The 2006 addition of a freshman honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta, has increased attention on the importance of academic achievement for first-year students. Interest in membership has been quite high, with two-thirds of the invited students accepting membership each year. The VCSU chapter won a national bronze award for membership in 2008; one member won a national scholarship in 2010. The organization attempts to complete one activity each semester to promote academic success on campus, and graduating seniors who maintain the society's minimum GPA receive Alpha Lambda Delta honor cords to wear at graduation.

Science Research Opportunities. Science faculty regularly involve students in grant-sponsored research, and students are encouraged to participate in conferences to present their findings. The most significant are described below:

  • A Two Phase Population Survey of Mussels in North Dakota Rivers. (Summer 2008 through Summer 2010; North Dakota Game and Fish State Wildlife grant; a cooperative grant with Concordia College in Moorhead.) This grant employed 5 students in summer research. Students presented at conferences in Maryland, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
  • Determining Aquatic Bioindicators for Atrazine. (Summer 2004 through summer of 2009; an NIH grant through the INBRE program.) This project investigated the possible endocrine disrupting effects of the common herbicide atrazine on aquatic insects in the Sheyenne and Wild Rice rivers of southeastern North Dakota. This grant employed 8 students in summer research. Students presented posters at the National IDeA Symposium of Biomedical Research Excellence (NISBRE) in Washington D.C in 2006, at the Third Annual Northwest Regional Undergraduate Research in the Molecular Sciences Conference sponsored by Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College in 2007, and at the Council on Undergraduate Research 2007 Posters on the Hill event in Washington DC.
  • EPA 319 Grant: Digital Taxonomic Keys for Aquatic Insects found in North Dakota Rivers and Streams. (Summer 2001 through summer 2006.) This grant supported the development of identification keys and established a permanent collection of North Dakota aquatic insects; results are viewable at This grant employed 7 students. Two students presented posters at the 2004 North Dakota Academy of Science meeting; one received the Dennison prize for the best undergraduate presentation and the other was runner up.
  • Environmental health aspects of coal fly ash utilization as a medium for plants. (May 2009 to May 2014; INBRE grant awarded by National Institute of Health). This grant has involved 13 students to date, eight presentations and three articles accepted for publication in the International Journal of Environmental Sciences.
  • Chlorophenoxy Herbicides ( 2003-2008; BRIN and INBRE grants). These two grants involved 21 active student researchers and 13 presentations at regional and national conferences.

Student Accomplishments. Over the last decade, faculty have assisted and encouraged students to present their work at regional or national conferences. Below is a partial list of student's presentations.

  • Cromwell, Tammy. 2006. "Sitting Bull: Integrity in Adversity." Thirty-Eighth Annual Dakota Conference, Sioux Falls, SD.
  • D.J. Anton*, A. Khandelwal, H.E. van Gijssel. 2007. "Determining binding of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacitic acid to the Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 2b using computer modeling." American Chemical Society 233rd National Meeting, Chicago, IL.
  • Fronk, M. and DeLorme, A.W. 2004. "Survey of Microcaddisflies in Mercer County, North Dakota. Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science 58:43." Runner up for the Dennison award for outstanding undergraduate presentation.
  • H.M. Gienger*, B.M. Blunck, H.E. van Gijssel. 2007. "Effect of Chlorophenoxy Herbicides on Development and Growth of Drosophila melanogaster during Multi-generational Exposure." 99th Annual meeting of the North Dakota Academy of Science, Minot, ND.
  • Hager, A.J.. L. M. Wieland, A. W. DeLorme. 2008. "Determination of Heavy Metal Concentrations in Soil Sediment and Mussels of Eastern North Dakota River Systems." Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science 62:20. Runner up for the Dennison award for outstanding undergraduate presentation.
  • Hohnadel, B.D. and DeLorme, A.W. 2004. "Exploring the Possibility of Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Refugia in the Tributaries of the Upper Sheyenne River." Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science 58:33. Winner of the Dennison award for outstanding undergraduate presentation.
  • Huber, Mark. 2007. "Beneath Lake Sakakawea." Thirty-Ninth Annual Dakota Conference, Sioux Falls, SD. Recipient of the Cedric Cummings Award for best student paper.
  • Knapp, Manfred. 2006. "A Chief Exploited: The Tale of Little Crow." Thirty-Eighth Annual Dakota Conference, Sioux Falls, SD.
  • M.A. Bata*, H.M. Gienger, A.D. Dobmeier, B.M. Blunck H.E. van Gijssel. 2008. "Determining Gene Expression in the Drosophila Melanogaster after Multi-generational Exposure to Chlorophenoxy Herbicides. 100th Annual meeting of the North Dakota Academy of Science. Grand Forks, ND.
  • Matthew J. Axtman*, Akash Khandelwal, Hilde E. van Gijssel. 2006. "Computer Modeling Of Herbicides in Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptors." 98th Annual meeting of the North Academy of Science, Valley City, ND. Winner of the Denison Award for best presentation.
  • Nettleton, Peter A*; Kawasaki, David A*; Klingenstein, Max J; Caylor, Raymond C*; van Gijssel, Hilde E*. 2006. "The Effects of Embryonic Exposure to Chlorophenoxy Herbicides on Development in Drosophila Melanogaster. 47th Annual Drosophila Research Conference, Houston, TX, poster 847C. April 2006.
  • Stuckle, Danielle. 2002. "Lewis and Clark: In Pursuit of the Fur Trade." Thirty-Fourth Annual Dakota Conference, Sioux Falls, SD. Recipient of the Johnson Award for best amateur paper.
  • Stuckle, Denise. 2002. "In the Wake of Lewis and Clark: Removing British Influence in the Fur Trade." Thirty-Fourth Annual Dakota Conference, Sioux Falls, SD.

Evaluation of Core Component 4a

The University demonstrates through its policies, planning, financial allocations, and support for faculty and student research that it values a life of learning.

Strengths: Funding for faculty travel and development activities receives high priority. Faculty in a variety of programs across campus also support student research by providing frameworks for the pursuit or presentation of research. In addition, student interest in honor societies is high.

New Initiatives: The Student-Scholar Symposium is developing into a campus-wide event, with the possibility of even broader participation as more Divisions become involved. Several newer faculty are exploring the possibility of advising honor societies in their field, specifically communication, psychology, and education. Given the strong interest in the first-year honor society, the addition of upper-level honor societies seems productive.

Challenges: The faculty developmental leave policy is new to campus, and implementation will require some fine-tuning over the next few years.