“Success, the result of a collective effort”
A recap of the House Appropriations Committee budget presentation
On Wednesday, March 10, I had the privilege of representing VCSU in our budget appropriations presentation to the House Appropriations Committee. Other VCSU representatives who joined me and provided testimony that day were Student Senate President Angeline Gannon, Vice President for Business Affairs Wesley Wintch, and VCSU Foundation Executive Director Larry Robinson.
Our budget presentation focused on the past, present and future of VCSU, with particular attention on student academic success, student applied research and accolades, outstanding faculty and staff contributions, continued enrollment growth, cooperation and collaboration with community agencies in Valley City and Barnes County, and our plans for the future.
Near the end of our presentation I was asked by one of the committee members if we have been able to identify why VCSU continues to experience such outstanding success and growth. My answer was that we do, indeed, have these discussions across campus regularly – in faculty, staff and student meetings, departmental meetings, cabinet meetings, foundation meetings, and in conversations with our constituents. There is no one singular action or strategic enrollment focus that has resulted in our success. Rather, the combination of several initiatives continues to propel us forward.
Here are a few of the facts and initiatives helping to place VCSU in a leadership position in our state and region:
- VCSU has been ranked as one of the “Best Colleges” by U.S. News for 23 consecutive years and was named the “Most Beautiful Campus in North Dakota” by Buzzfeed.
- Initially created as a “normal” school, we have a 130-year record of providing highly qualified educators to the state of North Dakota with 1,438 alumni currently teaching IN 157 North Dakota communities.
- We have added academic programs in the areas of sound production and digital design, and we have other high demand programs in various stages of development and approval.
- We’ve created new initiatives such as the Rural School Partner Benefit Program, which helps North Dakota rural schools attract and retain their teacher workforce.
- Our reputation and success as innovators with technology strengthened our position and ability to respond to the demand for online instruction during the Covid pandemic.
- We provide our students with high-quality educational experiences and engaging co-curricular activities.
- Our athletic conference was one of only a few conferences in the nation to move forward with a full slate of fall and spring athletics.
- Almost 70 percent of our students are from North Dakota.
- Our enrollment/recruitment management team meets weekly to strategically develop plans for sustaining and growing our student population.
- In 2019, VCSU had the highest retention rate (73%) of all the 4-year regional institutions in North Dakota. This is so very important for enrollment stability.
- VCSU remains one of the most affordable universities in North Dakota and the Midwest, and we continuously look for opportunities to keep the cost of a university education attainable. We decreased the student technology fee by 10 percent in 2019 and haven’t incurred any additional increases since then, and our room rates were kept even for Fall 2020.
- With the use of Open Educational Resources, VCSU students have saved more than $1.5 million in textbook costs since spring semester 2016.
- We’ve had success implementing three-year programs. Seventeen students who completed graduation requirements in less than four years were recognized at the spring 2020 commencement ceremony.
- Collaboration with the community and the Valley City/Barnes County Economic Development Corporation continues in the area of providing salesforce training and emerging educational needs to help efforts in job creation and workforce needs.
- We have three successful academic centers, including the Prairie Waters Education and Research Center, Don Mugan CTE Leadership Center, and Great Plains STEM Education Center.
- Our highly active and supportive VCSU Foundation provided a record $1.86 million in student scholarship support in 2020-21.
- During our presentation, we shared several high impact practice success stories of our students and programs in fisheries and wildlife, computer science and software engineering, recording technology, 2020 emergency substitute teacher program, and internships and career readiness.
- Finally, our “Forward Together” campaign to raise $25 million in private donations is underway and will address current and future capital needs for our campus and students.
As you can see, the success of the university is a direct result of intentional strategic planning and the collective efforts of many. We are incredibly grateful to our faculty and staff for their commitment to our students and mission, and to our students and their families for choosing VCSU as the place to pursue their dreams and aspirations. This is, indeed, the best time to be a Viking!