Jul 5th, 2016 @ 1:33 pm | Author: Tisa Mason, Ed.D., CAE
It may seem like graduation signals a time to sit back, reflect, and prepare for the upcoming fall semester. That may be the reality for some campuses, but at VCSU we are actively engaged in a full summer schedule in addition to preparing for the fall. In the month of June alone, we have been focused on providing the high-quality experiences detailed below.

Summer classes. This summer we are offering 91 undergraduate and 26 graduate classes, educating nearly 600 students.

New Student Orientation. To date we have worked with 165 students to get them registered for fall classes and shared information to shape their success. Additional orientation sessions will occur later this summer.

Summer Camps. VCSU’s Prairie Waters Education and Research Center in Kathryn hosted its annual educational water-related camps, attracting 19 fifth- and sixth-graders for the Splashin’ Around camp and 8 seventh- and eighth-graders for the Fishin’ Around camp. Viking athletics hosted 7 camps (football, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball), helping over 1,400 campers hone their skills and form new friendships this summer. More camps are planned for July.

Legislative Meeting. In early June we were honored to host the North Dakota Legislature’s Interim Higher Education Committee at VCSU. This gave us a great opportunity to share our Viking pride and hospitality with the legislators—and to show them firsthand just how close the flood wall is to Foss Hall. We also announced our new three-year programs that will begin this fall and provided tours of the Gaukler Family Wellness, Health and Physical Education Center.

Recognition Celebration. We had the great privilege of thanking and honoring donors at our annual Foundation Recognition Luncheon. This year we recognized 24 donors with collective lifetime gifts in excess of $3.1 million.

Partnerships. We hosted a luncheon with 8 area high school principals and superintendents to discuss ways we can work together to improve the transition process from high school to college to help ensure the success of our students. This was our first gathering; we hope to grow this into an annual event.

Institutes. June featured both our Great Plains STEM Education Center’s professional development program for K-12 teachers as well as our Library and Information Technology Summer Institute.

The Great Plains STEM Education Center (GPSEC) brought 36 teachers to campus to participate in a wide variety of STEM activities, including a trip to the Prairie Waters Center. During the week, GPSEC also co-hosted a social for the Interim Higher Education Committee with several K-12 teachers displaying examples of recent classroom STEM lessons.

The Library and Information Technologies Summer Institute included 13 students, along with 3 graduates who served as mentors and instructors. The focus of this year’s institute was “Guided Inquiry and Makerspaces” in libraries. The institute, co-sponsored for 8 years through the IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) Nexus Echo grant written by Donna James and awarded to VCSU in 2012, drew students and instructors from North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Oklahoma. Since 2007, Nexus and Nexus Echo grants have provided more than $850,000 for student support, including tuition awards and summer institute learning opportunities.

Strengthening Support. VCSU recently hosted a professional development conference for executive assistants of presidents and vice presidents of academic affairs from throughout the North Dakota University System. This meeting brought together 19 administrative professionals from 10 campuses and the system office to share best practices and develop new ways to work effectively both collectively and individually.

Outreach. Not only did we host people on campus, we also traveled to other parts of the region to promote learning. For example, the GPSEC staff traveled to Belle Fourche, S.D., to conduct 3 days of integrative STEM lessons and activities for 60 middle school students and their summer school teachers. Activities included tower construction for earthquake stability, parachute design, a paper airplane contest, and multiple engineering design challenges, including a Rube Goldberg Machine challenge during Family Night.

These are just a few of the activities we accomplished in June in the midst of our daily work. Additional important and exciting activities are scheduled for July, followed by the return of our students and faculty in August for the start of a promising fall semester.

Wow! I’m proud of the impact that our team has made in June—another reason why it is a great day to be a Viking!