Dec 7th, 2015 @ 11:38 am | Author: Tisa Mason
Comments are excerpted from those presented at a Dec. 2, 2015, all-campus meeting.

During the past year I have come to learn more about the unique qualities that make Valley City State University “Distinctively VCSU.”

As I approach my first anniversary, I am even more excited to have the privilege of working collectively across campus to serve our students and our state in alignment with our mission. Our accomplishments are impressive and only matched by the love and care in which we pursue excellence.

Here is a brief list of “headlines” from the semester—headlines, which I believe make our university “Distinctively VCSU!”
  • We were recognized as the No. 1 Public Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News and named a U.S. News “Best College” for the 18th consecutive year.
  • This fall we registered a record headcount of 1,422 very distinct VCSU students.
  • We’ve been working hard to improve our retention rate, and in the last four years we’ve raised it from 64 to almost 71 percent—and we’re not done yet!
  • We’ve strengthened the residential life experience through improved residential facilities and programming; we’re bringing more students back to live in the residence halls.
  • The visit team for our teacher education program review this fall—by NCATE/CAEP (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education/Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation)—were glowing in their praise for the way we prepare our future teachers!
  • The Higher Learning Commission underlined our quality with their approval of our fourth-year Assurance Review.
  • Our faculty and staff successfully embraced a peer review Program Optimization Process (POP) to further enhance quality through a culture of evidence-based, data-driven decisions.
  • The Great Plains STEM Education Center at VCSU received nearly $300,000 from the Department of Public Instruction.
  • A new online catalog and curriculum management system, Leepfrog, was implemented.
  • Five technology mini-grants were awarded to faculty to enhance teaching and learning. Those grants funded GoPro cameras, Knowledge Matters gamification simulation, GoReact software for public speaking, Internet of Things, and Swivl Robot and cloud service.
  • This fall our student athletes, who develop character and competence in the classroom and on the field, received a host of honors: 3 NAIA National Championship qualifiers in cross country, 9 NAIA Scholar-Athletes, 1 NAIA National Player of the Week, 14 NSAA (North Star Athletic Association) All-Conference athletes, 8 NSAA Players of the Week.
  • Our new students tied over 70 blankets and packed 170 food bags for the Barnes County Backpack Program during their Welcome Week orientation, introducing them to our campus value of service to community.
  • The State Board of Higher Education approved a second master’s degree at VCSU—the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT).
  • Our Valley City Health, Wellness and Physical Education Center is under construction; it’s a very visible symbol of our strong town-and-gown relationship.
  • Faculty and staff came together to ensure that our 30 students unable to be home on Thanksgiving had a traditional dinner complete with their VCSU family!
  • Facilities Services employee Drew Storbeck embraced our commitment to strong financial stewardship by saving VCSU more than $10,000 on the purchase of floor coverings for Graichen Gym. Our employees look out for our best interest—and that is distinctively VCSU.
There are so many strong attributes that make us distinctive. One core value has really stood out to me, and that is our focus on innovation defined in these terms: We are flexible, creative, and free to try new things. We have a strong work ethic, positive attitude, and open mind. We embrace change.

So what have I learned about VCSU this past year? That “the cupboards are full” with great students, talented faculty, and caring staff, and that we live our values. That’s “Distinctively VCSU”—another great day to be a Viking!