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President's Desk

President’s Column: Enrollment, Excellence, Engagement, and Innovation

Nov 22, 2022

Greetings from Valley City State University! I hope this column finds you enjoying preparations for time spent with family, friends and loved ones. We have recently completed our new strategic plan entitled, “Forward Together” with an overarching goal to be the region’s preferred institution for students seeking transformative, quality experiences, and meaningful connections. The campus-wide implementation team is working with all units across campus to develop specific goals for each area.

President Alan LaFave
President Alan LaFave

The first pillar of our strategic plan focuses on enrollment growth, retention, and outreach. In a challenging landscape, enrollment has maintained excellent momentum. While total headcount and full-time equivalents (FTE) for the Fall 2022 semester fell slightly, our freshman class is the fourth largest in institutional history and residence hall occupancy rates increased by 22% this fall. These numbers, combined with a rebound of retention to 70%, point to a bright future for our institution. Five of our incoming freshmen have been awarded a Presidential Scholarship, which recognizes and rewards top academic achievers. Our campus continues to plan and develop strategies for growth, improved retention, and continued outreach and collaboration.

The second objective of our strategic plan is to create quality experiences through innovation. We are dedicated to continuous improvement in learning and instruction, innovation, and facilities and technology. This commitment to quality experiences in and out of the classroom continues. External validation is evidenced by our continuing Higher Learning Commission accreditation, program-specific accreditations in education (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) and music (National Association for Music), U.S. News ranking as the top regional public institution in North Dakota for 2022, recent recognition from Wallet Hub as the lowest net cost institution in North Dakota, and quality athletic, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for our students.

Our final objective is to cultivate an engaged community that supports innovation, growth, and quality. Through student, employee, and external engagement we are developing plans to enhance the quality of place, resulting in a thriving and vibrant campus community to attract and retain students. Additionally, we continue to ensure human resource policies, procedures, and business processes enable us to recruit and retain outstanding employees. Finally, we strive to improve external engagement to seek, build, nurture and reinforce relationships benefitting VCSU’s future.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m thankful and grateful for all who have contributed to the new strategic plan. I’m thankful for students, faculty, and staff who infuse this campus, community, region and state with excellence, engagement, and innovation. I’m grateful for the support of donors and friends who impact campus and students through sharing of time, resources, talents, and treasures. I’m appreciative of the dedication of all to think forward and imagine the VCSU of tomorrow while retaining the tremendous qualities and traditions of the institution. Finally, I’m thankful for the great state of North Dakota and the important role VCSU plays in sustaining this greatness for future generations.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope you will be able to spend this time with family, friends, and loved ones. As you do so, take a moment to reflect on the many things for which you are thankful. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Valley City State University!

Go Vikings!