Greetings from Valley City State University!
The week of December 2-6 included many exciting developments for VCSU which I’d like to share with you.
On Tuesday, December 3, I participated in the State Board of Higher Education meeting on the University of North Dakota campus. The morning was spent in open interview sessions of candidates for the UND presidency. I welcome Dr. Andrew Armacost as the new UND president and look forward to working and collaborating with him in continuing to provide excellent higher education opportunities for the students of the North Dakota University System!
A few items of specific importance for VCSU on the SBHE agenda included the approval of two major bonding proposals: the issuance of $22.5 million in facility revenue bonds for construction of the activated carbon plant on the east side of campus, and the refinancing of up to $3.2 million in housing and auxiliary facilities bonds.
Planning for the activated carbon plant began long before my arrival at VCSU, and it’s exciting to see this project advanced to the point of bond sales. Since the 2017 North Dakota Legislative Assembly approved sale of revenue bonds for the activated carbon plant, the project has undergone two years of design development, with feasibility vetted by a third-party engineering firm.
A collaborative applied research project between VCSU and UND research scientists, along with Horizon Carbon product development experts, this plant will utilize North Dakota lignite coal or other biomass to create the energy that will help drive our steam heat plant. The cost savings anticipated will be over $400,000 annually.
But even more exciting is what happens next. The char produced from burning the coal and biomass will be infused with steam, reactivating it to create activated carbon. This by-product can then be sold and distributed to municipalities and companies for use in water and air treatment and purification processes. Additionally, the plant will provide innovative research opportunities for students and faculty from across North Dakota. We anticipate this plant to serve as a prototype for additional facilities throughout North Dakota and the nation.
VCSU was also approved to refinance revenue bonds which were approved by the SBHE in 2010 for the renovation of Snoeyenbos Hall, one of our campus residence halls. The bonds are maturing on or after July 1, 2020, and subject to redemption with accrued interest. Refinancing the debt will take advantage of current market conditions in lieu of direct repayment and save us nearly $200,000.
In addition to attending the SBHE meeting in Grand Forks, I’ve also been traveling a little closer to home. On Wednesday, December 4, I joined James Boe, VCSU dean of graduate studies and extended learning, and Bridget Blunck, admissions counselor in our enrollment services office, in visiting with over 100 high school dual credit students at Valley City High School. On Friday, December 6, we met and visited with the high school dual credit students at Davies and Oak Grove high schools in Fargo.
Plans are to visit all of the schools offering high school dual credit from VCSU within the next few weeks. We value these relationships highly and look forward to continuing to offer high-quality curriculum to all who participate. It is gratifying to see the positive difference these courses are making for so many students by providing a jumpstart to college and a tremendous cost savings for their families.
With the semester quickly coming to a close, a plethora of university and community activities, events and concerts are certainly keeping the calendar full. I hope to see you at some of these events and wish you all the best!