The Opportunity

The State Board of Higher Education invites applications and nominations for the position of President. Valley City State University is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the North Dakota University System and is governed by the State Board of Higher Education.

The President is the chief executive officer of the university and reports to the Chancellor and the Board of Higher Education. Reporting directly to the President are the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Business Affairs, the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Director of Athletics, the Director of Marketing and Communications, the Executive Director of University Advancement, and the Chief Information Officer. The President is a voting member of the VCSU Foundation Board.

The successful candidate will succeed Dr. Steven W. Shirley, who has been president since 2008. It is anticipated that the next president will begin service on or about January 1, 2015, or sooner if available.


For 16 consecutive years, Valley City State University has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report among its “Best Colleges.” In the last five years, it has received the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in the U.S. News ranking of “Public Regional Colleges in the Midwest.”

Valley City State University will begin a yearlong celebration of its 125th anniversary this fall. Founded as a normal school in 1890, the university now offers more than 80 undergraduate programs in art, business, communication arts, computer systems and software engineering, education, health and physical education, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, and technology education.

VCSU makes courses and degree programs available through traditional on-campus courses, distance learning (online or interactive video), and hybrid formats that combine both elements. In 2005, VCSU began offering its first graduate program in education. Today, VCSU’s completely online M.Ed. program has six concentrations: elementary education, English education, library and information technology, teaching and technology, teaching English language learners, and technology education. In 2012, VCSU earned a 10-year reaccreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The university has been accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education since 1954.

To enhance student learning and preparation, VCSU provides all faculty and full-time, on-campus students with laptop computers, easy access to high-speed wireless networking, advanced multimedia technology, and classrooms equipped with the latest educational technology.

The 55-acre campus is bordered on the south by a forested hillside and on the north by the Sheyenne River. Campus architecture features a graceful blend of historic and modern buildings. The entire campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District.


Valley City State University is a public, regional university with exceptional programs in an active, learner-centered community that promotes meaningful scholarship, ethical service, and the skilled use of technology. As an important knowledge resource, the university offers programs and outreach that enrich the quality of life in North Dakota and beyond. Through flexible, accessible, and innovative baccalaureate and master’s programs, VCSU prepares students to succeed as educators, leaders, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex and diverse society.


Valley City State University will be recognized nationally for advancing important collaboration, fostering innovative engagement, and promoting noteworthy transformation. Through effective use of best practices in technology, teaching, and learning, VCSU will be a destination university for students in North Dakota and throughout the region, extending its reach and influence beyond the campus boundaries.

Academic Centers

Two new academic centers—the Great Plains STEM Education Center and Prairie Waters Education and Research Center—were established at Valley City State University during the Shirley presidency.

The Great Plains STEM Education Center, in cooperation with and supported by both public- and private-sector partners, provides professional development opportunities for K–12 teachers and hands-on, inquiry-based learning opportunities for students.

Prairie Waters provides environmental learning opportunities focused on North Dakota waters for students, teachers, and professionals, while also conducting research on aquatic biological resources.

Both centers extend the reach of Valley City State beyond educating university students, bringing VCSU resources and personnel to bear on broader missions to serve a number of extended constituencies.


Partnerships with private and nonprofit corporations and other higher education institutions extend Valley City State University’s reach and provide rich learning experiences for students through enhanced student development, internships, and outstanding career opportunities.

Dakota College at Bottineau and VCSU work together in a number of ways. DCB students may reside on the VCSU campus and participate in DCB two-year degree and certificate programs; the DCB nursing program at VCSU is a popular option, and a portion of Rhoades Science Center is dedicated to the program. DCB and VCSU also collaborate in a fisheries and wildlife science program for Bottineau students.

The DCB/VCSU Bridges Program allows incoming students not eligible for full admission to VCSU to enroll in the program as DCB students on the VCSU campus and then make the transition to full VCSU student status after successful completion of the Bridges Program. DCB also delivers the developmental courses needed by some VCSU students.

North Dakota State University and VCSU collaborate on a human development and family science/elementary education program for NDSU students; VCSU faculty teach the elementary education coursework on the NDSU campus, and students who complete the program earn degrees from both institutions. Another teacher education collaboration is the Valley Partnership of VCSU, NDSU, and Minnesota State University Moorhead, established through a Bush Foundation grant to prepare more effective teachers.

VCSU also maintains articulation agreements with several Wyoming community colleges and offers bachelor’s degree programs in elementary education, English education, and history education, delivering instruction in Wyoming and via distance learning.

A partnership is in place with the South East Education Cooperative, a consortium of K–12 schools in the region whose goal is to provide professional development. In addition, VCSU hosts an excellent K–12 Teacher Center, recognized as one of the best providers of educational opportunities to K–12 staffs in the region.

VCSU maintains partnerships with leading enterprise software providers–including Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle–allowing faculty members to incorporate the software into the classroom so students graduate with hands-on experience.

Locally, the university enjoys strong relationships with many partners: the City of Valley City, the Valley City–Barnes County Development Corporation, the Valley City Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Barnes County Historical Society and Museum, among others.

Students, Faculty, and Staff

With a total headcount of approximately 1,350 students and a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, the university meets the needs of individual students through personalized attention. Valley City State University employs about 200 full-time faculty and staff.

Students live and learn in 19 campus buildings, including five residence halls, all providing a clean, safe, and healthy work environment for students, faculty, and staff, alike. (See campus map: A vibrant student life program offers many co-curricular activities, including student government, drama, athletics, music, and student clubs and organizations. The Vikings of Valley City State University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics member, compete in 14 intercollegiate programs for men and women.

The university primarily serves southeastern North Dakota, but its students come from locations across the country and around the globe, including Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, China, and Mexico.

Valley City State University Foundation

The mission of the VCSU Foundation is to support Valley City State University by involving alumni and friends in activities and private giving that meet the university’s needs and advance its welfare. Directed by a 25-member board of directors, the President is a voting member of the board.

One of the primary responsibilities of the VCSU Foundation is to support the university’s scholarship program; the foundation also supports other projects throughout the campus.

Additionally, the VCSU Foundation supports and coordinates the work of the Alumni Association, V-500 Scholarship organization, Athletic Booster Board, and other giving activities. Today, the foundation’s asset base is approaching $10 million.

Tradition of Excellence

In recent years and with the leadership of Steven W. Shirley, institutional accomplishments have included the following:

  • record student enrollments;
  • $10.3 million renovation and expansion of Rhoades Science Center;
  • $3.5 million renovation of Snoeyenbos Residence Hall;
  • addition of the Great Plains STEM Education Center and the Prairie Waters Education and Research Center at VCSU;
  • formation of and membership in the North Star Athletic Association, the NAIA’s newest conference;
  • new academic programs, including software engineering, athletic training, business process integration management, and medical lab science, along with new concentrations in the M.Ed. program;
  • campus-wide environmental and sustainability initiatives;
  • new partnership with Zhejiang Economic & Trade Polytechnic in Hangzhou, China;
  • successful accreditation review by the Higher Learning Commission in 2011–12;
  • a new university strategic plan; and
  • increased scholarship allocations, record-breaking fundraisers, and growth in the VCSU Foundation asset base.

Building the Future

The next Valley City State University President will have a unique opportunity to embrace the current momentum and address important challenges to take the university to new levels of excellence, including the following:
  • identifying, developing, implementing, and marketing academic and athletic programs of distinction within VCSU’s mission that will drive enrollment growth and serve North Dakota’s needs;
  • securing and prioritizing the resources necessary to support high-quality programs and services, to maintain student affordability; and to address deferred maintenance and capital;
  • continuing to explore collaborative and distance education programs as a means of flexible delivery;
  • pursuing opportunities to build relationships with the VCSU Foundation to foster financial support and development activities;
  • establishing positive relationships and partnerships with business, government, public agencies, and K–12 and other educational institutions;
  • supporter of economic and workforce development enhanced by partnerships with area industries, businesses, and public schools;
  • promoting, enhancing and pursuing opportunities to further grow the technology base in the community and State through its deep commitment and innovative leadership in technology and creative and effective use of technological resources;
  • promoting teaching, learning, and student success by championing innovative approaches and supporting staff development that leads to best practices;
  • supporting a campus climate characterized by innovation, collegiality, and collaboration;
  • nurturing ongoing campus and community ventures to provide access and opportunities in the arts and recreation for all; and
  • working with sister institutions within the NDUS to leverage its collective assets to effectively and efficiently carry out the Board’s strategic goals and serve the students and the state of North Dakota.

About Valley City

Nestled in the beautiful Sheyenne River Valley along a nationally designated scenic byway in southeastern North Dakota, Valley City’s population is about 6,600. The city features a robust retail district, several beautiful parks, and many restaurants.

Valley City, the county seat of Barnes County, offers the peacefulness and security of small-town living along with a host of outdoor activities. Within minutes, a person can go from work to recreational pursuits, such as birding, fishing, golfing, hunting, hiking the North Country National Scenic Trail, or participating in wellness/fitness activities and city-league sports.

The Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway, with 40 interpretive sites, presents an immersion in local and regional history. Eight of the sites are included in the City of Bridges Tour, a walking tour of Valley City’s historic bridges.

Valley City is located less than an hour’s drive from Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city.

Town and Gown

According to a 2011 North Dakota University System study, Valley City State University's impact on the Valley City area economy is estimated to be in excess of $77 million. The large financial impact is recognized by area leaders, and the university and the local community enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.

Valley City State University faculty and staff serve leadership roles in community organizations; and community leaders, likewise, are on university boards. VCSU students are an integral part of the Valley City workforce, and VCSU campus facilities serve the local community, as well as the university. The Valley City area includes a high percentage of VCSU alumni. The university receives much of its private financial support from these loyal alumni, local individuals, and businesses.

Nominations and Applications

The next Valley City State University President will have a special opportunity to inspire and to be a part of a unique higher education community. Applicants with a terminal degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, along with a substantial leadership background, will be preferred. Salary considerations will be competitive.

To assure best consideration, applications should be received by August 25, 2014. The application should include a letter of interest specifically addressing the applicant’s background in relationship to qualifications described (not more than three pages); a current résumé (or curriculum vitae); and the names of at least five professional references with each person’s position, office or home address, e-mail address, and telephone numbers. References will not be contacted without prior authorization from the applicant. The new President will assume office on or about January 1, 2015, or sooner if available. Veterans’ preference is not applicable to this position.

The North Dakota University System and Valley City State University Presidential Search Committee are being assisted by James H. McCormick, Senior Consultant, AGB Search. Nominations and applications should be sent electronically (MS Word or PDF format) to Additional university information may be found at The consultant may be contacted at 651-238-5188 or

Names of all applicants or nominees for the position are a matter of public record as the search process complies with the open meetings-open records statutes and policies of the State of North Dakota.

As employers, the State of North Dakota and political subdivisions prohibit smoking in all places of state and political subdivision employment in accordance with N.D.C.C. § 23-12-10.

Equal Opportunity Employer: The State of North Dakota and this hiring agency do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, genetics, religion, age, or disability in employment or the provision of services, and complies with the provisions of the North Dakota Human Rights Act.


Terry Meyer
Executive Assistant to the Chancellor
North Dakota University System
Phone: 701-328-2963

NOTE: Names of finalists for the position are a matter of public record per the open meetings-open records statutes and policies of the State of North Dakota. Because of the public nature of the campus visit portion of the interview process, the names of semifinalists selected for on-campus interviews also become public.

The North Dakota University System and the Valley City State University Presidential Search Committee are being assisted by:

James H. McCormick
Executive Search Consultant
AGB Search
Phone: 651-238-5188

Janice S. Fitzgerald
Executive Search Consultant
AGB Search
Phone: 717-580-0663