Campus News

Officials at Valley City State University have postponed its spring 2020 commencement ceremony, originally scheduled for Saturday, May 16.Citing public health and safety concerns, President Alan LaFave made the announcement in an email to the campus community March 31. “Like so many of the other decisions we’ve needed to make recently, this one doesn’t come easy,” said President LaFave. “Celebrating the educational achievements of our undergraduate and graduate students and awarding them their diplomas is one of the most significant university events, befitting the traditional pomp and circumstance that accompanies the ceremony. But this year’s unique circumstances dictate that we delay that celebration.”Although LaFave indicated that VCSU hopes to have an in-person ceremony at a later date, no specific date has been set for the event. Alternate plans for recognizing graduates at the end of spring semester are in the development stages.

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Greetings from Valley City State University!When students and faculty returned to campus after the holidays to begin spring 2020 semester, none of us could have predicted the impact that the coronavirus would have on our campus, community, state and nation. We were beginning to have preliminary conversations with our Emergency Management Team, but those conversations were focused on flood preparations. With the exceptionally wet fall and much winter snow, our planning efforts were directed toward potential spring flooding of the Sheyenne River. We couldn’t have imagined what the next months would bring. Fast forward to Friday, March 20, when we made the decision to shift to online instruction for the remainder of the semester. The decision was not easy, but it was the right thing to do. I’d like to provide a brief recap to help you understand what led to our decision.At the end of February, a reminder for preventative measures for the cold and flu, along with a mention of the coronavirus COVID-19 illness, was shared with our campus community. Less than a month ago there were only 15 positive cases of COVID-19 in the United States with no confirmed cases in North Dakota. According to the CDC, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 for the general American public remained low at that time. Less than a month later, the COVID-19 illness has gone from relatively low risk to pandemic status with almost 300,000 positive cases and nearly 13,000 deaths in the United States. This rapidly developing situation led to increased planning efforts by the VCSU Emergency Management Team, officials from City-County Health and the North Dakota Department of Health. A community forum hosted by Valley City Public Schools provided an opportunity for health professionals, local leaders, citizens and media to have an open discussion about data and recommendations from the CDC and other health professionals. Subsequent actions at VCSU included regular messaging to our students, faculty and staff about preventative measures and recommended actions. With spring break looming, we thought it best to give our students and faculty a heads-up about the possibility of moving to an online delivery format for a few weeks thereafter. On March 12, the decision was made to deliver the curriculum using the online platform from March 23-April 3. We believed this would provide a preventative cushion of time and distance, while we maintained continuity of instruction and allowed students to remain in their home areas. On March 16, we asked most faculty and staff to begin working remotely by March 18. Since then, many businesses and organizations throughout the state have followed similar protocols. Finally, on Friday, March 20, we made the difficult decision to deliver academic instruction online for the remainder of the semester. As a laptop campus with a long history of technology innovation and application, VCSU was able to make the transition to distance learning relatively seamlessly. In the days before and during spring break, our faculty worked diligently to make the necessary adjustments and conversions to deliver the highest quality academic experience for our students.We know this was the right decision for the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community, but at the same time we acknowledge the sense of loss that so many of our students, especially our seniors, will feel as they finish the semester off campus without the personal company of their friends, peers and colleagues.Our leadership team at VCSU places the health, safety and welfare of our students and campus community at the forefront in our decision-making processes. It is our sincerest hope that the mitigation strategies we’ve enacted will help flatten the curve and lead to a reduction in the potential number of COVID-19 cases for Valley City and Barnes County.For their individual and collective efforts, I wish to thank all members of the VCSU Emergency Management Team, and especially Betty Tykwinski, director of VCSU Health Services, and our faculty, staff and students, along with Valley City Public Schools officials and teachers, city and county leaders, the business community, and members of the media. While the weeks ahead are filled with uncertainty regarding when the spread of COVID-19 will be curtailed, our resolve remains strong. We will emerge from this stronger and more united and focused on the importance of community and collaboration.Go Vikings!

The COVID-19 test result for a Valley City State University student tested on March 18 has come back negative — the VCSU student, who had been quarantined, does not have the coronavirus COVID-19 illness.VCSU President Alan LaFave shared the news with campus via email; in that message he expressed concern for the student and asked that the campus community “please continue to protect yourselves and your families from this illness.”All academic instruction at VCSU has been moved online for the remainder of spring semester 2020. In addressing those plans, President LaFave said, “Our similar experience during the Sheyenne River flood of 2009 and the success of our current online undergraduate and graduate programs have provided us with the technological tools, skills and aptitude to make this happen.”

Valley City State University has moved all academic instruction online for the remainder of spring semester 2020.On March 12, VCSU announced a plan to move to online instruction for two weeks, from March 23 to April 3, after its March 16-20 spring break. However, in light of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and the need to respond decisively for the health safety of its constituents, the decision was made to not bring students back to campus for the remainder of the semester.“This decision has been a difficult one,” said President Alan LaFave, “but we cannot place our community at risk. We’re also confident that we can deliver excellent, effective academic instruction from a distance. Our similar experience during the Sheyenne River flood of 2009 and the success of our current online undergraduate and graduate programs have provided us with the technological tools, skills and aptitude to make this happen.”

On March 18, a Valley City State University student was tested for the possibility of COVID-19 — the coronavirus illness —at CHI Mercy Health in Valley City.Test results are still pending from the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH), and the student is quarantined in secure isolation on the VCSU campus per NDDOH and Center for Disease Control guidelines. Further information will be released as it develops.“We want our community to be aware of what’s happening on campus,” said VCSU President Alan LaFave. “We’re concerned about the health of the student being tested, and we are following all necessary protocols to protect the well-being of all of our students, faculty, staff, and their families, along with the Valley City community.”Currently most VCSU students are away from campus on spring break, which runs through Sunday, March 22. From Monday, March 23, through Friday, April 3, 2020, classes will not be held on campus — the university plans to deliver courses online during this time. The VCSU Emergency Management Team is meeting daily and in constant communication as it strategically guides the university through the health crisis.

In response to coronavirus COVID-19, Valley City State University is taking steps to protect the health and safety of the campus community.In a campus-wide email sent March 12, VCSU President Alan LaFave announced that following spring break (March 16-20), VCSU will change the way academic instruction is delivered for two weeks. From Monday, March 23, through Friday, April 3, 2020, classes will not be held on campus — the university will move to online delivery of courses, and faculty will determine how to meet their students’ needs through technology.According to President Alan LaFave, VCSU is positioned well to move courses online. “Valley City State University has a long history of online teaching; in fact, during the Sheyenne River flood of 2009, students finished the semester online after the campus closed following Easter break.”VCSU plans to return to regular classroom instruction on Monday, April 6.President LaFave also notes, “Because of the nature of the outbreak, the situation continues to evolve, and our plans will adjust accordingly, always keeping the health and safety of the campus community at the forefront of our decisions.”

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Greetings from Valley City State University!As I was traversing back and forth between Bismarck, Valley City, Fargo and Jamestown this past week, I came to the realization that I’m really getting to know Interstate 94 very well! Remembering the heavy winter weather last year at this time, it also made me thankful for the generally good travel conditions, except for a windy day last Thursday. Being a campus president in a university system provides many opportunities and responsibilities. One of those for me lately has been serving on the search committee for the next president of Bismarck State College. This has been a very interesting and enjoyable experience. I’ve gotten to know members of the faculty, staff, student body and alumni base at BSC during this process and have been warmly welcomed as an outside member of the committee. The folks I’ve interacted with truly exhibit North Dakota friendliness and hospitality, and I’ve enjoyed my time working with them. Having spent Monday and Tuesday in Bismarck, I traveled back to Valley City on Tuesday evening and then was off to Fargo on Wednesday to meet on details regarding VCSU’s upcoming $25 million capital campaign, which was recently approved by the State Board of Higher Education. (More details will follow on this in one of my upcoming columns.) It was back to Bismarck on Thursday for the final BSC presidency interview and then back to Valley City that evening. On Saturday I was excited to travel to Fargo to visit and meet with the Oarsmen Club as they were participating in their annual fundraiser for VCSU Viking Football. The excitement and passion of this group is contagious!Of course, mixed in with these travels were some of the ongoing meetings, discussions and efforts to continue our work and planning for quality at VCSU. Our President’s Cabinet — the university’s leadership team — met for a half-day planning session to review progress on each of the presidential and institutional goals related to our strategic plan. This is one of the many things I value about VCSU. Many institutions spend many hours creating strategic plans and then place them on the shelf to collect dust, but that’s not the case at VCSU. We review, update and revise the plans to ensure that efforts to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff, the campus and community are moving forward.Additionally, I want to assure the public that VCSU officials are working closely with the Valley City Public Schools, city and county officials, North Dakota University System, North Dakota Department of Health and the campus to closely monitor the rapidly changing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. While the risk of this virus in the United States, along with the impact to VCSU and North Dakota, remains relatively low at this time, we continue to prepare for a potential outbreak. Our emergency management team and Health Services Office are following this very closely and providing regular updates to our campus community. We will continue to work with all constituents and have a plan in place should the need arise to address the situation locally.Finally, I am continuously amazed at the beauty of North Dakota. The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. The wide-open spaces and vistas are amazing. The air is clean and crisp…and something we should not take for granted. Go Vikings!

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Greetings from Valley City State University!Recently we were very pleased to announce another record-breaking semester of enrollment. Our spring enrollment of 1,622 represents nearly a 7% increase over last year’s 1,517 headcount. The undergraduate headcount of 1,491 for spring 2020 is also a record, exceeding the 2019 figure of 1,375 by more than 8%. Other records in the spring 2020 numbers include both the institutional total FTE (full-time equivalent) and the undergraduate FTE. The institutional total FTE figure of 1,091 represents nearly a 7% increase over the 2019 figure of 1,020, and the undergraduate FTE of 1,044 represents nearly an 8% increase over the 2019 figure of 970.As I visit with business and community leaders, legislators, colleagues, and supporters in Valley City, the region, and across the state, I’m often asked, “What exactly is contributing to this continued growth at VCSU?” There is no one answer; rather it’s the combined effect of many different initiatives, a continued commitment to quality teaching, a welcoming and personalized atmosphere, a curriculum that is relevant and reflects current needs and trends in the workforce, and a continued focus on student success and the overall student experience.Quality curriculum delivered by highly qualified professors teaching in a personalized setting with small class sizes continues to be one of the important characteristics that sets VCSU apart. Evidence of our students’ academic success abounds on campus. Just a few days ago I was privileged to attend three research presentations from students in our science department. The research, conducted in collaboration with VCSU science faculty, included:

  • Baylee Berg, “The Effect of Multigenerational Exposure of 2,4-D or Ethanol on Fertility in Drosophila melanogaster”
  • Spencer Dorsey, “Mapping of Bluegill Beds on Seven Lakes in Central North Dakota”
  • Jayme Menard, “Spring Creek and Clausen Springs Reservoir Watershed Assessment”
Their presentations were polished and professional, and I found the results of the research they shared relevant and fascinating. Earlier this year, we created a retention task force to examine our retention efforts and suggest areas for improvement. The success of this effort is already apparent with an increase in the fall-to-spring retention rate of our first-year, full-time students pushing that figure to almost 90%. Our hard work in bringing students to Valley City State and helping them succeed pays off for the students, their families and us. These numbers are an indicator of the quality teaching and learning environment on our campus, which we continually strive to improve, remaining ever mindful of our charge to provide an outstanding education and great value.Be assured, we don’t take these increased enrollment numbers and positive trends for granted. We must always remember that these numbers aren’t just an abstract count; they represent people. They are students who have entrusted us to help provide academic, social and life skills that place them on pathways to successful careers and life after college. We appreciate the trust placed in us by the students and their families, and we pledge to continue delivering the quality education that has been a hallmark of Valley City State University for generations to come.Go Vikings!

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Student Health Services at Valley City State University will host the annual VCSU Wellness Fair on Wednesday, March 4, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Center on the VCSU campus.Sponsored by Essentia Health, Family Healthcare, and Sanford Health, the Wellness Fair is open to the public free of charge. Participants will have the opportunity to do health screening and fitness testing, see demonstrations and participate in activities, and pick up free samples and information about health and wellness resources on campus, in Valley City and around the region.“The importance of learning more about how we all can improve our health and wellness cannot be overstated,” said Betty Tykwinski, MSN, RN, director of VCSU’s Health and Wellness Services. “The Wellness Fair offers a wealth of information and activities for people of all ages, and we’re grateful that our sponsors — Essentia Health, Family Healthcare, and Sanford Health — are helping us bring this valuable event to the campus and community.” Specific opportunities for participants include having their blood pressure checked, learning compression-only CPR, trying DermaScan skin screening, and signing up for free 10-minute reflexology sessions on site. The VCSU Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription class will be offering In Body 270 Body Composition Analyzer testing for a discounted price of $5 along with other fitness testing. Participants may also enjoy healthy treats at a wellness snack bar sponsored by Prairie St. John’s.Wellness Fair participants who visit all booths will be entered to win drawings for prizes, including Apple watches and Air Buds, a TRX Home2 training system, Hydro Flasks, and gift cards to Scheels, Leevers Foods, Twin Valley Theatre, Subway, the VCSU Bookstore, Viking Grounds and Tesoro.The 30 service providers, vendors and exhibitors participating in the Wellness Fair include:

  • Abused Persons Outreach Center
  • b-Fit 24/7
  • Be Well Healing Arts
  • Bismarck Cancer Center
  • Central Avenue Chiropractic
  • Central Avenue Pharmacy
  • Central Valley Health District
  • CHI Mercy Health/Cardiac Ready Community
  • City County Health District
  • Community Options
  • Dakota Nursing Program
  • Energetics LLC
  • Essentia Health
  • Family Healthcare
  • Fuel Up Play 60
  • Gaukler Family Wellness Center/Valley City Parks and Recreation
  • Mobility Plus Rehab
  • My Wish Healing
  • NDSU/Barnes County Extension Agency
  • On The Move
  • Prairie St. John’s
  • Preventice
  • Sanford Health
  • Valley City Green Dot
  • VCSU Athletic Training Program
  • VCSU Counseling Services
  • VCSU Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription Class
  • VCSU Health Services
  • VCSU Psychology Club
  • VCSU SHAPE Club

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The VCSU UJ Career and Internship Fair will be held Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Student Center on the Valley City State University campus.A cooperative effort of Valley City State University and the University of Jamestown hosted this year by the VCSU Career Services Office, the event will provide students with opportunities to meet with prospective employers in regard to part-time and full-time jobs, internships, and summer jobs. Representatives from area graduate schools will also be in attendance.Northwestern Mutual has even indicated they plan to do on-the-spot interviews in the Student Center immediately after the fair. Door prizes will be awarded to some lucky attendees as well. Employers and graduate schools attending the fair include:

  • Aldevron, Fargo
  • Anne Carlson Center, Jamestown
  • Barnes County Development Corporation, Valley City
  • Bell Bank, Fargo
  • Bobcat Company, West Fargo
  • Bushel, Fargo
  • Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Fargo
  • Creative Care for Reaching Independence, Moorhead
  • Dacotah Bank, Valley City
  • Doosan Digital Innovation America, Bismarck
  • Elks Camp Grassick, Dawson
  • Eventide Jamestown, Jamestown
  • Job Service North Dakota, Fargo
  • The Legacy Place, Valley City
  • North Dakota Air National Guard, Fargo
  • North Dakota Army National Guard, Fargo
  • North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Bismarck
  • North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck
  • North Dakota State Hospital, Jamestown
  • North Dakota State University Graduate School, Fargo
  • Northwestern Mutual, Fargo
  • Red River Regional Dispatch Center, Fargo
  • Sanford Health, Fargo
  • Sheyenne Care Center, Valley City
  • Solutions Behavioral Healthcare Professionals, Moorhead
  • Triumph Inc., Jamestown
  • United States Marine Corps Officer Program, Fargo
  • Unison Bank, Jamestown
  • University of Jamestown, Fargo
  • Valley City – Barnes County Development Corporation, Valley City
  • Wells Fargo, Bismarck
  • Youthworks, Jamestown/Valley City
The career fair is just a part of the many services that VCSU Career Services provides, including career counseling and workshops on resumes and cover letters, networking and interviewing skills, career exploration, accepting and negotiating a job offer, and understanding employee benefit packages.For more information on the career fair and career services at VCSU, contact Kari Klettke at kari.klettke@vcsu.edu or 701-845-7534.

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Greetings from Valley City State University!As I compose this message, the sun is shining bright, the skies are blue, and the temperature is a brisk 5 below zero. It’s hard to imagine, just a week ago, several of us were meeting with alumni and friends in Arizona, where the temps were in the low 70s. Each year the VCSU Foundation and Alumni Office spends a few days meeting and greeting alumni and friends of the university who choose to spend a part, or all, of their winter in the Southwest. I recall, from my graduate school days at Arizona State, the vast increase in population during the winter months. Even though I’m not much of a golfer, the courses would get significantly busier, along with restaurants, streets, and freeways — the increase in license plates from North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota was noticeable. Affectionately referred to as “snowbirds,” these folks find many activities in which to participate and maintain very busy schedules while escaping some of the weather back home for a few months.Our schedule included meetings and gatherings over four days, ending with a Sunday brunch in Sun Lakes. We began with an informal gathering at the home of Bob and Deanne Horne. (Both Bob and Deanne formerly taught here, and Bob previously served as foundation executive and now serves as a foundation board member.) Also joining us that evening were Nancy King, Judy Mathias and Dr. Larry “Buck” Grooters. On Friday we met with a group of 15 in Peoria, and Saturday took us back to Mesa to meet with a larger gathering at Viewpoint. Bringing folks together like this provides an annual reunion of sorts, but it also gives us an opportunity to share some of the exciting things happening on campus and in the community of Valley City. We talked about our enrollment trends, budget, student and athlete success, construction progress, and plans for moving forward and addressing emerging facility and campus infrastructure needs.This was a wonderful time to reconnect with our alumni and friends and to get to know them better, to hear their stories and understand what an important role VCSU played, and continues to play, in many of their lives. It made us all proud to be associated with this wonderful school and excited for our future. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of Larry Robinson and Kim Svennigsen-Hesch for their outstanding work in organizing and hosting these events. Reflecting back on the license plate comment: I was a little amazed on the trip back to the airport. As we were waiting at a stoplight, we were literally surrounded by North Dakota license plates, one in front, one in the next lane, and one in the opposite lane. One couldn’t help but feel pride for our home state.Go Vikings!

For the sixth consecutive year, Valley City State University has achieved record spring enrollment numbers according to official figures released Feb. 11. VCSU has set spring semester records with a headcount enrollment of 1,622 students, nearly a 7% increase over last year’s 1,517 spring headcount. The spring 2020 undergraduate headcount of 1,491 is also a record, exceeding the 2019 figure of 1,375 by more than 8%. Other records in the spring 2020 numbers include both the institutional total FTE (full-time equivalent) and the undergraduate FTE. The institutional total FTE figure of 1,091 represents nearly a 7% increase over the 2019 figure of 1,020, and the undergraduate FTE figure of 1,044 represents nearly an 8% increase over the 2019 figure of 970.Of particular significance in the numbers this spring is the increase in full-time undergraduate students, from 776 in spring semester 2019 to 830 in 2020, just shy of a 7% increase.“It’s gratifying to see the strong spring numbers,” said VCSU President Alan LaFave. “Our hard work in bringing students to Valley City State and working with them to keep them on pathways toward degrees pays off for the students, their families and us. The numbers are an indicator of the quality teaching and learning environment on our campus, which we strive to improve. VCSU continues to provide an outstanding education and great value.”VCSU has been ranked a U.S. News and World Report “Best College” for 22 consecutive years; in its 2020 rankings, U.S. News ranked VCSU the No. 2 public regional college in the Midwest.

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Greetings from Valley City State University!Campus is buzzing with excitement with the return of students, and spring semester classes and activities are now in full swing. As much as I know students enjoy the break between semesters, I know they’re glad to be back on campus, and we enjoy having them here as they continue their paths toward graduation.I’ve been traveling to visit our high school dual-credit partners in the area over the past month. (At these schools, high school students take special courses and earn both high school and college credits at the same time.) Accompanied by James Boe, dean of graduate studies and extended learning, and Bridget Blunck, admissions counselor, I’ve visited Valley City High School, Davies High School, Sheyenne High School, Oak Grove High School, West Fargo High School, Barnes County North High School, Central Cass High School, and Northern Cass High School. It’s exciting to see so many high school students taking advantage of this program to help jump-start their university education.A few of us have also been traveling and making connections with school districts in regard to a new partnership program called the Rural Partner School Benefit Program. Designed to create powerful university/school district partnerships, the program promotes collaboration between VCSU and partner schools with a focus on student learning and educator preparation. This will help meet the demand for highly qualified teachers in rural schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels; support practicing educators and our teacher preparation programs; and improve professional learning for district and university faculty and teacher candidates. We are thrilled to announce that Valley City Public Schools and Lisbon Public Schools are our first two partners in this initiative.On campus, we kicked off the first week of classes with an open faculty/staff forum in Vangstad Auditorium January 16. Topics for the forum included enrollment, budget, facility improvements, funding, and student support. We also used this time to reflect on successes from the past year and plans for moving forward. We continue to invest in facilities and programs that will help our students succeed, and during the fall semester, we conducted a feasibility study to help us identify areas of need. We will continue these efforts this semester to explore ways and means to address our critical needs as we move forward.Along with a few others from the VCSU Foundation, I’ll be traveling to Arizona for alumni gatherings at the end of month. There we’ll share similar VCSU information and messages; I’ll fill you in on those events when I return.Go Vikings!

Valley City State University has released its President’s Honor Roll, Dean’s Honor Roll and Honor Roll for fall semester 2019.The President’s Honor Roll — www.vcsu.edu/news/presidents-honor-roll-fall-2019 — recognizes students who completed 12 semester hours or more of VCSU classes for which grade points are earned with a 4.0 grade point average.The Dean’s Honor Roll — www.vcsu.edu/news/deans-honor-roll-fall-2019 — recognizes students who completed 12 semester hours or more of VCSU classes for which grade points are earned with a grade point average of at least 3.5.The Honor Roll— www.vcsu.edu/news/honor-roll-fall-2019 — recognizes students who completed 6 to 11 semester hours of Valley City State University classes for which grade points are earned with a grade point average of at least 3.50.

The online master’s in education and bachelor’s programs at Valley City State University have been ranked in the U.S. News 2020 Best Online Programs. The national rankings cover accredited degree-granting online programs.VCSU’s online master of education (M.Ed) program was ranked 144th of 298 programs, while the online bachelor’s programs at VCSU were ranked 183rd of 345 programs.“We’re excited about once again being selected as one of the best online master’s in education programs,” said James Boe, Ph.D., VCSU dean for graduate studies and extended learning. “We take pride in being able to offer quality programs that are flexible enough for teachers with full-time jobs, coaching responsibilities and families. The program has numerous field experiences where candidates can implement new instructional technology, conduct laboratory activities, observe in other classrooms, co-teach and more. Our goal is to improve teaching and learning and provide our graduates with the knowledge and skills to make it happen.”The VCSU master of education (M.Ed.) program offers six concentrations: elementary education, English education, library and information technologies, teaching English language learners, teaching and technology, and technology education. The university also offers a master of arts in teaching (M.A.T.) program, designed to help individuals with degrees in non-teaching fields earn teaching licenses.Online bachelor’s programs at VCSU include business education, business process integration management, career and technical education, communication, English education, history, history education, music, social science, social science education, and technology education.The U.S. News rankings are based on methodologies using data from a statistical survey and a peer reputation survey. Although the methodologies differ for the master’s in education and bachelor’s programs, both rely on measures of engagement, services and technologies, faculty credentials and training, student excellence, and expert opinion.Include in these measures are graduation rates, use of best practices, class sizes, retention rates, student indebtedness, technological infrastructure, support services, terminal degree faculty and tenured faculty, and faculty preparedness to teach distance learners.The U.S. News online programs rankings can be found at www.usnews.com/education/online-education.

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Kari Klettke has joined the Valley City State University staff as director for career services.At VCSU, Klettke will provide career counseling services and direct internship and other experiential education programs such as job shadowing and mentoring. She will also work with area and regional employers to assess workforce needs and assist students with employment opportunities.Most recently Klettke served as director of accessibility resources at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Her higher education experience includes roles in counseling, career development, disability services, teaching and advising at several institutions. “Kari brings a comprehensive background to VCSU that will allow her to immediately impact the success of our students in career placement, advising and exploration,” said Pete Smithhisler, vice president for student affairs.Klettke and her husband, Lucas, along with their son Kole, make their home in West Fargo. Her two stepdaughters, Lydia and Lilliahna, live in Perham, Minn.

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Greetings from Valley City State University!It’s been my privilege to serve VCSU for just a little more than a year, and what a year it’s been. I’ve been warmly received both on campus and in the community, and I can’t overstate how excited I am to lead this wonderful school. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors, with the support of the State Board of Higher Education, the North Dakota University System, the North Dakota Legislature and Governor Burgum, have made 2019 a year to be remembered. Let me touch on a few of the highlights.Within a month of arriving on campus, I was presenting to the House Appropriations Committee’s Education and Environment Division about VCSU, introducing myself to the legislators and sharing VCSU’s accolades and accomplishments, including innovative programs, high-impact practices, and solid financial footing, while also outlining the university’s needs. I made a similar presentation to the Senate Appropriations Committee in March.A couple items that were new to the March presentation were our record spring enrollment numbers and a feature story on then first-year student Lauren Roscoe from New Rockford, N.D., who served as the 2018-19 National Student of the Year for SADD—Students Against Destructive Decisions—a national organization with 10,000 chapters across all 50 states (and several U.S. territories) headquartered in Washington, D.C. Those spring enrollment numbers, announced in early February, featured a headcount of 1,517 students, a record-setting number for the fourth consecutive year!A celebration of 50 years of women’s athletics at VCSU was held February 15-16, with more than 75 former Viking athlete and family members returning to campus for a luncheon, a women’s basketball game, and post-game reunions. An in-depth, illustrated recap of VCSU women’s athletics was created for the weekend; check it out online at www.vcsuvikings.com/50.From April 11-13, Viking Club Tennis competed in the USTA Tennis On Campus National Championships in Surprise, Ariz. The team for the championships included seniors Dustin Miller and Clarissa Olson, junior Dalton Ondracek, and sophomore Caitlyn Hunter. The squad had qualified for nationals by finishing second at the USTA Northern Section Tennis On Campus Championships held at the Eau Claire (Wis.) YMCA in February.Our collective efforts in pursuit of a fine arts building to replace Foss Hall, located on the wrong side of the floodwall, came to fruition in May, when Governor Burgum signed Senate Bill No. 2297, finalizing the North Dakota Legislature’s $32 million in funding for the Center for the Arts. Then I said this: “I want to thank the legislature, the governor, the state board and the system office for their support of our fine arts building project. This project has been years in the making, and there’s great joy on campus and the community knowing that the building will become a reality.” And I’ll say it again — thank you!The month of May also featured VCSU’s 127th commencement exercises (it was my first!), celebrating students completing a record 278 undergraduate degrees and 47 master’s degrees during academic year 2018-19. Marc Wagner gave the student reflection, and Emily Fenster, Ph.D., presented the faculty reflection. Associate professor in the VCSU Social Science Department, Fenster was recognized as “Teacher of the Year” by the VCSU Student Senate this spring. Outstanding!The Concert Choir of Valley City State University — 26 students accompanied by their director, Christopher Redfearn, and his wife, Jennifer — toured Italy May 16-27. The choir’s first performance was singing during mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and the group was also able to do some sightseeing in Rome. Other stops, with more performances and sites to see, included Florence, Pisa, Santa Margherita Ligure, Cremona (the home of Stradivari’s violin workshop), Padua, Mirano, and Venice.According to Redfearn, international travel and performance opportunities are part of what makes the VCSU music program special. “For many of our students, this is their first opportunity to travel overseas,” he said, “and to have the opportunity to see the sights and sing in the venues they do makes this truly a trip of a lifetime.”May was also quite a month for the VCSU athletic program. The athletic department earned three North Star Athletic Association awards at the North Star Summit in Watertown, S.D. Valley City State won the first NSAA Commissioner’s Cup trophy, awarded to the top performing athletic department based on the final conference standings in all sports. VCSU had 9 of its 14 teams finish in the Top 3 in 2018-19 North Star competition. Jill DeVries was named NSAA Athletic Director of the Year, and Mark Potts was named NSAA Sports Information Director of the Year.The Viking softball team put together a season for the ages, making it all the way to the NAIA World Series in Springfield, Mo., winning the conference title, the conference tournament title and the NAIA regional in Columbia, Mo., along the way. The squad finished with a school record 54-5 record.Kyle Odegard and Dennis Gonzalez both earned All-American honors, leading a group of seven VCSU track and field athletes competing at the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. Odegard placed fourth in the nation in the javelin with a school-record throw of 64.26 meters (210 feet, 10 inches), while Gonzalez placed fifth in the men’s marathon. Summer brought the Middle School STEM academy to campus, hosted by VCSU’s Great Plains STEM Education Center. The academy, featuring two week-long sessions in June for Native American middle school students, aims to heighten awareness and participation among students typically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, while also enhancing students’ confidence in regard to academic and career aspirations, and introducing them to college life by working with university faculty in exploring academic disciplines, living in residence halls, and eating in the dining hall, for example. Thanks to New Town Public Schools, Microsoft, and North Dakota United for supporting this terrific program.College rankings from two sources — Washington Monthly and U.S. News and World Report — came out at the end of the summer. VCSU ranked 51st of 372 schools in the Midwest in Washington Monthly’s Best Bang for the Buck Colleges (Midwest) listings. That category was defined as an “exclusive list of schools ranked according to how well they help non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.” VCSU’s value proposition was clearly recognized here.In the 2020 U.S. News rankings that came out in early September 2019, VCSU was ranked the No. 2 public regional college in the Midwest. That marked the 22nd consecutive year that VCSU has appeared in the U.S. News “Best College” rankings. The university has been ranked among the top three Midwest public regional colleges each year since 2010. Mid-September brought another accolade, this time for our athletic program: VCSU was named an NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Institution for the 17th straight year, and the 3rd consecutive year of silver recognition in the program. The five core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership are put into play and accounted for as part of the Champions of Character program.The college rankings and the Champions of Character award speak to the good work done together by our students, faculty and staff, along with the strong support of our alumni, friends and the Valley City community. Thanks much!Toward the end of the month, we celebrated in several ways: a new record for student enrollment, homecoming and the inauguration. The new all-time enrollment record was set with a total headcount of 1,665 students and an undergraduate headcount of 1,524. The 1,665 total headcount surpasses the previous record of 1,547 set in fall 2018, a 7.6% increase, and the undergraduate headcount of 1,524 surpasses the previous record of 1,404, also from fall 2018, an 8.5% increase. The full-time equivalent (FTE) figure also increased from 2018 to 2019, moving from 1,096 to 1,164, a 6.2% increase. The headcount enrollment marks the fifth consecutive year of record-breaking numbers for VCSU, beginning with a 2015 mark of 1,422 that surpassed the previous record of 1,384 set in 2011.Our retention rate for our first-time, full-time students is also at a record high for VCSU. This rate, measured by the number of students retained from fall semester freshman year to fall semester sophomore year, was 72.85% this fall, nearly 5 percentage points over the 68.13% last year. A task force is moving forward, working on recommendations for actions and programs that will help our retention remain strong. This a top priority in the coming year.We enjoyed a tremendous weekend of homecoming festivities, along with the inauguration celebration, in the last week of September. I was overjoyed to have my family, friends and mentors on campus; what a fabulous celebration the campus inauguration committee put together — receptions, a recital, the ceremony and a concert (along with a football win to boot!).In early October, select VCSU musicians presented a showcase recital in conjunction with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The hour-long recital was performed for ballet patrons prior to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s matinee performance of “La Bayadère.” This marked the second year in a row for a VCSU recital at the ballet.VCSU students performing at the recital included Rachel Baker, horn; William Egan, baritone; Abigail Ingstad, soprano; Riley Loeks, soprano; Grayson Marty, piano; Isaac Samuels, baritone; Rochelle Van Bruggen, clarinet; Johnathon Van Puersem, trombone; and Jami Wells, clarinet. Robin Allebach, VCSU music faculty member, facilitated and directed the recital, assisted by faculty Daniel Becker and Kenneth Jimenez. Jimenez also performed in the recital, as did staff pianist Sarah Larsen.Later that month, VCSU sophomore Shane Hitch from West Fargo was honored for his selection as a finalist in the Cyber FastTrack cyber security competition. Shane competed over several months to solve more than 250 cybersecurity challenges. Over the course of several months, the competition was narrowed from 13,000 students who started the competition to 2,579 quarterfinalists, then 541 semi-finalists, and finally, 100 finalists, including Hitch, who were selected to receive a full scholarship for advanced cyber skills training through the SANS Technology Institute.Site preparation for the new Center for the Arts started in November, with final design meetings held in December. We can’t wait to begin construction in the spring!December 2 was the day the State Board of Higher Education approved the sale of bonds for the activated carbon plant addition to the heat plant. This innovative project will help power the campus, while creating activated carbons and research opportunities for students and facultyAlso in December, VCSU running back Louis Quinones was named Honorable Mention NAIA All-American and second team AP All-American. Quinones led the nation in both rushing yards per game (150) and all-purpose yards per game (210) this season. Quinones also broke the VCSU career rushing record this season and tied the school record for rushing touchdowns, finishing his Viking career with 3530 rushing yards and 36 rushing touchdowns.Quinones’s teammate, all-conference linebacker Arron Martin, played for the West team in the inaugural NAIA Senior Football Classic, featuring some of the top NAIA seniors around the country, on December 14 in Savannah, Ga.We just capped off the year with our fifth winter commencement on December 19 in Vangstad Auditorium, with Autumn Johnson giving the student reflection and Joan Oigawa Aus, Ph.D., presenting faculty remarks. In spring 2019, Aus, associate professor of education and chair of the elementary education and English language learners programs, received the Faculty Excellence Award for Senior Faculty.What a year 2019 was for Valley City State University; can you believe it? Thank you so much for all the support we enjoy for the benefit of our students, faculty, staff, community, and state. We are so grateful for the partnerships that make it all possible. In the new year, my hope is that we all continue our good work as we move forward together.Go Vikings!

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Valley City State University will hold its fifth Winter Commencement on Thursday, Dec. 19, at 3:30 p.m. in Vangstad Auditorium.President Alan LaFave will preside at the commencement exercises and give remarks, as will Kathleen Neset, member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education.The undergraduate student reflection will be presented by Autumn Johnson of Hazen, N.D., graduating on Thursday with a major in history and minor in political science.Faculty speaker is Joan Oigawa Aus, associate professor of education and chair of the elementary education and English language learners programs at VCSU. Aus has taught at the university since 2000; in spring 2019, she received the Faculty Excellence Award for Senior Faculty.Members of the VCSU Woodwind Studio, directed by Daniel Becker, assistant professor of music, will perform at the ceremony.The event, open to the public, will be live streamed atwww.youtube.com/user/VCSUVikings/live.

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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! Go Vikings!

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Greetings from Valley City State University!Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and express appreciation. With this important holiday upon us, I’d like to take a few moments to share our appreciation for the gifts we enjoy at Valley City State University. These gifts help us fulfill our mission for the benefit of our students, faculty, staff, community, and state, and we are so grateful for the partnerships that make it all possible.I’d like to begin with a personal thank you to both the local and campus communities for your continued support and welcoming spirit. We truly enjoy a wonderful mutually supportive relationship. We’re especially thankful for this relationship and our collaboration, working together to strengthen our university and the region.The support of so many individuals is making a difference for VCSU and our students. With over $1.72 million in scholarship allocations this past year, we recognize a clear correlation with our enrollment growth and the stability and retention of our students. The support we receive helps our students succeed and attain their goal of a university education. I’ve also heard from faculty, staff, and community members alike of the noticeable increase in student involvement on campus and in the community.Site preparation for the new arts center has begun, and we again express our thanks to the North Dakota Legislature and Governor Burgum for making this possible. The first completely new academic building on our campus in more than 45 years, the center will serve the campus and community as a tremendous instructional facility and an outstanding venue for guest speakers, performances, competitions, and arts events at all levels. We are all very excited to see the project get underway, with construction scheduled to begin in spring 2020.On behalf of the students, staff, and faculty of Valley City State University, we wish you all a wonderful and enjoyable Thanksgiving! Enjoy this time of gathering and giving thanks for family, friends, and community, and may we all look forward to continued collaboration for years to come!Go Vikings!

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Dacotah Bank of Valley City received the 2019 Corporate Leadership in Philanthropy Award at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northern Plains Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo on November 14.Dacotah Bank was nominated for the award by the Valley City State University Foundation. Speaking for the foundation at the luncheon, Larry Robinson, VCSU executive director for advancement, commended the bank: “Dacotah Bank has a long and rich history of supporting the greater community with time, talent and treasure. They have clearly led the way in philanthropy in our community, donating and supporting more than 165 entities over the last five years.”Robinson also noted, “The philanthropic support that Dacotah Bank has provided to Valley City State University exceeds $300,000.”Accepting the award for Dacotah Bank at the luncheon were Paige Bjornson, senior business banker, and Mark Oberlander, senior agricultural banker.When presented with the award by Travis Christopher, president of AFP’s Northern Plains Chapter, Oberlander spoke first: “On behalf of Dacotah Bank, we are tremendously honored to accept this prestigious award. With sincerest gratitude we thank the AFP Board for choosing Dacotah Bank from what most certainly was a tremendously worthy list of nominees. Thank you, also, to VCSU for their nomination of Dacotah Bank.”Bjornson followed Oberlander, sharing how Dacotah Bank’s people make a difference in the community. “What makes us especially proud today is that this award recognizes not only the corporate culture of financial giving that is Dacotah Bank, but more importantly it recognizes the many hours and the immeasurable talent that so many Dacotah Bank employees are willing to share,” said Bjornson. “They want to make a difference when and where they can; they want to elevate community and quality of life for their children and for their neighbors; and they want to make a difference not only for today but also for tomorrow. For our company — Dacotah Bank in Valley City and Dacotah Bank across three states — and for our 25 local employees — to be recognized for these efforts is humbling, and we are truly grateful. Thank you.”VCSU President Alan LaLave joined the Dacotah Bank representatives and Robinson at the luncheon. VCSU representation at the luncheon also included foundation board members Robert Horne and Mark Richman, foundation staff Kim Hesch and Loree Morehouse, and staff Casey Olney, Pete Smithhisler and Greg Vanney.

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Greetings from Valley City State University!One of the most important measures and validations of a university’s success is enrollment. We have seen our fall enrollment numbers increase every year for the past 10 years, and in the last 4 years, our efforts to continue that growth have been very purposeful and focused.Our faculty, administration and staff have been diligent in this effort. This focus has been centered on the notion of continuous improvement, with specific attention to recruitment, retention, student engagement and success, and quality academic and cocurricular opportunities, as we aim to create a community of scholars and learners, offer excellent advising, and provide an affordable higher education option with abundant scholarship offerings. This list of our goals and efforts, while not exhaustive, has been a big part of the discussion and work with our enrollment management team here at VCSU.This fall we set enrollment records with a 1,665 total headcount and an undergraduate headcount of 1,524, breaking the 2018 records of 1,547 and 1,404 respectively. Our FTE (full-time equivalent) also increased over last year; we’re now at 1,164, compared to 1,096 in 2018.VCSU is one of only two North Dakota University System institutions that grew in both headcount and full-time equivalent categories this year.Taking a bit of a deeper dive into the numbers, it’s interesting to note that 54% of our students are face-to-face, on-campus students, while 26% are online only. The remaining 20% take a combination of face-to-face and online courses. While online is a preferred method of delivery for approximately a quarter of our students, 45% of our face-to-face students are not taking any online courses, and 47% of our online-only students are North Dakota residents. We understand the importance of providing high quality in both face-to-face and online delivery methods and have implemented measures to address quality assurance in content and consistency in the online courses. This assures an online student of receiving the same, high-quality experience as our face-to-face students.Retention plays an important role in the success of our overall enrollment management plan. As you might imagine, many hours are spent in the recruiting process identifying prospects; making initial contacts with them; inviting them to campus to meet with faculty, staff and coaches (if they are being recruited as athletes); giving campus tours; and maintaining regular communication all the way through the registration and orientation. With these extensive efforts invested in recruiting prospects, it becomes just as important for us to retain them once they become VCSU students. Our retention rate for our first-time full-time students is also at a record high for VCSU. This rate, measured by the number of students retained from fall semester freshman year to fall semester sophomore year, was 72.85% this fall, nearly 5 percentage points over the 68.13% last year. A task force has been assembled to provide recommendations for actions and programs that will help our retention remain strong; this is a top priority.These are very exciting times at VCSU! The record numbers represent the active choice that students make when they enroll. The numbers are also a positive indicator of the tremendous work being done by our faculty and staff, and the strong support we receive from alumni, donors and the Valley City community, along with the North Dakota University System and North Dakota Legislature. The personal attention that students receive both on campus and online makes for an outstanding education and tremendous value, and I’m so very proud of the people who make that happen.Go Vikings!

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VCSU is thankful for the collaboration and support we enjoy from the community, county and public schools, both in Valley City and the region.I’m looking out the south window of my office while writing this column, and I see sunny skies; with 56-degree temperatures and no wind, it’s a seemingly picture-perfect day. Yet, just this morning, city crews were busily installing flood panels on the Viking Drive bridge west of the main campus. Many have indicated that the return to the nice temperatures is actually having a negative corollary impact on the rising lake and river levels, thus affecting our community and campus.We are all incredibly thankful for the proactive work of the city in installing these flood panels, and it serves as an important reminder of the outstanding preventative measures that have been taken in our community to help mitigate potential flood damage to residences, businesses and the campus facilities. The closing of Viking Drive, which will run through at least November 10, is a required piece of the flood protection plan. Nonetheless, it requires flexibility, cooperation and innovation on the part of the campus and community. The VCSU campus is effectively divided, east to west, by the Sheyenne River. Programs, classes and events that occur in the buildings to the west — the Gaukler Family Wellness Center and the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse — will continue. Some classes have been temporarily relocated to other parts of campus while students adjust their pedestrian and motor vehicle travel patterns to accommodate the necessary and important flood protection. We thank the campus community for quickly adjusting to this change and the community of Valley City for being so efficient in installing the temporary panels which complete the flood protection at the Viking Bridge location. It certainly provides a sense of relief and confidence that measures can be taken to help avoid catastrophic loss in these types of situations. It is our hope that the concern for rising river and lake waters will be resolved positively and that we have favorable spring conditions to mitigate future flooding issues. Please know that we — VCSU faculty, staff and students — stand ready to assist in the event we are called upon to help with these efforts. Thank you to Valley City workers and employees who are overseeing the protection of our city to the best of their abilities!Go Vikings!

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Due to potential flooding, Viking Drive in Valley City has been closed at the bridge over the Sheyenne River.Viking Drive is the direct route from the main Valley City State University campus to the west section of campus that includes the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse and the Gaukler Family Wellness Center.Alternate routes using Riverview Drive or 4th Street SW are suggested for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.This closure, which began Oct. 17, is scheduled to run through Nov. 10.A campus map with the closure and alternate routes marked can be found at Viking Drive alternate route map.

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Prospective students, friends and family members are invited to visit the campus of Valley City State University for a Viking Visit Day on either Thursday, Oct. 17 or Friday, Oct. 18.Two visit sessions will be offered each day, one beginning at 9 a.m. and running until noon, and another beginning at 1 p.m. and ending at 4 p.m.Included in the sessions are opportunities to learn about the university’s academic programs and cocurricular offerings and visit with current students, professors and enrollment staff. Prospective student visitors will receive a free VCSU Viking T-shirt.Campus tours, including the Gaukler Family Wellness Center, will also be offered.Future visit days will be offered on Saturday, Nov. 16 (9 a.m.-noon); Friday, Dec. 13 (1-4 p.m.); Friday, Jan. 20, 2020 (1-4 p.m.); Saturday, March 28, 2020 (9 a.m.-noon); and Wednesday, April 22, 2020 (1-4 p.m.)Those who prefer to schedule individual visits during the week are welcome to do so on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.For more information or help arranging your visit, call VCSU’s Enrollment Services Office at 800-532-8641 or 701-845-7101. To register online for a visit, go to visit.vcsu.edu.

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Greetings from Valley City State University!On Friday, September 27, I was extremely honored and humbled to be formally installed as the 14th president of Valley City State University. The outpouring of support from friends, family and colleagues, both near and far, provided for a weekend of activity that I will never forget, along with the displays of Viking pride from students, faculty and staff throughout the week. Thank you to all who participated. (A note about the recital: I must admit that my first public clarinet performance in over a year was a bit daunting, but it was wonderful to be able to share the stage with so many outstanding performers from VCSU and across the country.)I was pleased and happy to welcome many family and friends to the campus and community of Valley City for the festivities. On stage at the ceremony, I was joined by Margaret Dahlberg, VCSU vice president for academic affairs (who has served twice as interim president); Nick Hacker, chair of the State Board of Higher Education; Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System; and two of my mentors: Bob Spring, music professor at Arizona State University (where I did my graduate work), and Jim Smith, president of Eastern Michigan University and former president of Northern State University in South Dakota (my undergraduate alma mater and where I served prior to coming to Valley City).Among the delegates participating in the ceremony were colleagues from across the North Dakota University System and from Northern State University and the South Dakota Board of Regents, joined by representatives from the offices of Senator Hoeven and Representative Cramer, and, of course, leaders and members of the VCSU and Valley City communities. Thank you to all who joined me for this special occasion.The reception after the ceremony at Epworth United Methodist Church and the homecoming parade Saturday morning were tremendous opportunities to see many of you and thank you for your support of VCSU. My thanks to the homecoming and inaugural committees in developing the activities and structuring the schedule so that so many could participate in the various events.In my inaugural address, I touched on several of our recent successes and highlights; let me share some of those here as well. We celebrate VCSU’s historic headcount enrollment record of 1,665 students this fall, a 7.6% increase over last year! Our retention rates climbed to 72.8% this year, an increase of 4 percentage points over last year. With those numbers, we’re well positioned for continued success. We also are proud of the largest scholarship allocation in school history — $1.723 million for students during this academic year. We owe a great debt of gratitude to all who support the VCSU Foundation. Your gifts help make a university education more affordable and attainable for our students. The latest data from the National Survey for Student Engagement indicate that 21% of our freshmen are first-generation college students. Additionally, 98% of the respondents indicated they would definitely or probably attend this institution again. The freshman class carries an impressive academic profile, including a 3.3 average high school GPA and an average ACT score of 21. These quality indicators are important considerations as we plan for next year’s freshman class and move “forward together” in establishing our enrollment and retention goals for the coming year.The opportunity to lead VCSU into the future is one which I take seriously and with a tremendous sense of responsibility. Thank you for your participation in the homecoming and inaugural celebrations, and thank you so very much for your continued support of me and our university.Go Vikings!

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ShaneHitch, a VCSU sophomore from West Fargo, N.D., majoring in software engineering, was one of 100 students from across the nation — and the only student from North Dakota — named a Cyber FastTrack finalist.Hitch competed over several months to solve more than 250 cybersecurity challenges. More than 13,000 students completed the first phase of this year’s Cyber FastTrack. Over the course of several months, the competition was narrowed to 2,579 quarter-finalists, then 541 semi-finalists, and finally, 100 finalists, including Hitch, were selected to receive a full scholarship for advanced cyber skills training through the SANS Technology Institute.Hitch was recognized on the VCSU campus Friday, Oct. 4. Participating in a gathering in Hitch’s honor were President Alan LaFave; Susan Pfeifer, associate professor and chair of the Computer Systems and Software Engineering Department; and three representatives from the North Dakota Information Technology Department: Tony Aukland, information systems security analyst, North Dakota State and Local Intelligence Center; Rosi Kloberdanz, EduTech director; and Tabitha Teel, EduTech professional learning and outreach manager. Aukland and Teel are both VCSU alumni. Joining the group via video conference was Sean Wiese, chief information security officer for the State of North Dakota.

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Select musicians from Valley City State University will present a showcase recital in conjunction with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 12:50 p.m. This marks the second consecutive year for a VCSU recital at the ballet.The hour-long recital will be performed for ballet patrons prior to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s matinee performance of “La Bayadère.” The VCSU musicians will attend the ballet following their recital.VCSU students performing at the recital include Rachel Baker, horn; William Egan, baritone; Abigail Ingstad, soprano; Riley Loeks, soprano; Grayson Marty, piano; Isaac Samuels, baritone; Rochelle Van Bruggen, clarinet; Johnathon Van Puersem, trombone; and Jami Wells, clarinet. Robin Allebach, VCSU music faculty member, has facilitated and is directing the recital, assisted by faculty members Daniel Becker and Kenneth Jimenez. Jimenez will also perform in the recital. Pianist is VCSU staff member Sarah Larsen.The recital will be live streamed on the VCSU Music Department’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/VCSUMusic.

Valley City State University has set enrollment records with a total headcount of 1,665 students and an undergraduate headcount of 1,524, according to official fall term 2019 figures released by the university.The 1,665 total headcount surpasses the previous record of 1,547 set in fall 2018, a 7.6% increase, and the undergraduate headcount of 1,524 surpasses the previous record of 1,404, also from fall 2018, an 8.5% increase.The full-time equivalent (FTE) figure has also increased from 2018 to 2019, moving from 1,096 to 1,164, a 6.2% increase.The headcount enrollment marks the sixth consecutive year of record-breaking numbers for VCSU, beginning with a 2014 mark of 1,378 that surpassed the previous record of 1,369 set in 1970.“These are exciting times at Vally City State,” said President Alan LaFave, “and the record numbers represent the active choice that students make when they enroll at VCSU. The numbers are also a positive indicator of the tremendous work being done by our faculty and staff, with the strong support we receive from alumni, donors and the Valley City community, along with the North Dakota University System and the North Dakota Legislature. The personal attention that students receive both on campus and online makes for an outstanding education and a tremendous value, and I’m so very proud of the people who make that happen year in and year out.”The enrollment records contribute to a positive fall term that has seen VCSU ranked the No. 2 public regional college in the Midwest by U.S. News and 51st among 372 schools in the Midwest in Washington Monthly’s Best Bang for the Buck Colleges (Midwest) listings. The university will celebrate the inauguration of President LaFave on Friday, Sept. 27; the inauguration festivities also coincide with homecoming activities on the VCSU campus.

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A recital in honor of the inauguration of Alan LaFave, president of Valley City State University, will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. in Vangstad Auditorium on the VCSU campus.Performers in the recital include President LaFave and both his graduate and undergraduate clarinet professors: Robert Spring, who taught LaFave in graduate school at Arizona State University, and James Gai, who taught the undergraduate LaFave at Northern State University in South Dakota.VCSU faculty instrumentalists performing include Daniel Becker, clarinet; Jerrold Heide, euphonium; Kenneth Jimenez, trumpet; and John LeTellier, piano. VCSU faculty vocalists Robin Allebach, soprano, and Christopher Redfearn, tenor, will also perform.Joining the recital are musicians from Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., where LaFave previously taught and served as provost. These include Darci Bultema, soprano, and William Wieland, piano. Wieland is a VCSU alumnus. Aberdeen-area musicians performing include Dennis McDermott, flugelhorn, and Paul Dutt, guitar.The recital will feature music by Schubert, Gershwin, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, among others.The recital is open to the public with no charge for admission.

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Greetings from Valley City State University!Homecoming is always a special time to welcome alumni back to campus, invite the community to participate in many events, and engage the students, faculty and staff in fun and memorable activities. The week of September 23-28 is filled with exciting activities and events for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the Valley City community. Beginning with the 37th annual Bill Osmon Fun Run on Monday at Lokken Stadium, continuing with a parade down Central Avenue and a Viking football game, and concluding with a student and alumni dance at the Eagles Club on Saturday night, a plethora of activities are available for all.An exciting and unique addition to this year’s homecoming festivities is the inauguration celebration culminating with the inauguration ceremony on Friday at 10 a.m. in W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse. This ceremony, open to the community, will include VCSU students, faculty, and staff, as well as colleagues from other NDUS institutions, the chair of the State Board of Higher Education and the NDUS chancellor, and many delegates from across the region and nation. Delegates from as far away as Arizona, Michigan and Missouri will be participating in the ceremony. I look forward to showcasing our university and community to all those joining us for the festivities. I sincerely hope that members of the Valley City community will join us in celebrating the university and our outstanding partners in higher education.I am truly honored and humbled to have been selected as the 14th president of Valley City State University and have sincerely enjoyed these past nine months in the office. While I was appointed president on September 27, 2018 (exactly a year from the inauguration date!), I formally began my duties on December 17, 2018. During this time, we have accomplished many great things together, and I anticipate even more forward momentum and success in the days, months and years ahead. In addition to the ceremony itself on Friday morning, I especially want to invite you to the inaugural recital on Thursday, September 26, at 7 pm and the Transit Authority Concert on Friday, September 27, at 8 p.m. Both of these events are free and open to the public. If you are able to come to the recital, you will enjoy hearing Dr. Robert Spring, professor of clarinet at Arizona State University (and my former teacher) perform…and even a performance or two from me! Other special guests on the recital will include VCSU music faculty, alumni and friends. Transit Authority, recognized as the premier Chicago tribute band, will be playing a two-hour show of Chicago’s greatest hits. I can assure you that it will be a tremendous show with appeal to audience members of all ages! Two of the special characteristics I admire at VCSU are the tremendous “family feel” we enjoy on campus and the outstanding town-and gown-relationship we share with the local community. I hope you will be able to join us for homecoming and inauguration events, and I look forward to seeing you and visiting with you.Go Vikings!

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An inauguration ceremony for Alan D. LaFave, D.M.A., the 14th president of Valley City State University, will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 27, at the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse on the VCSU campus.At the inauguration ceremony, LaFave will receive the formal investiture of office from Nick Hacker, chair of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, and Mark Hagerott, Ph.D., chancellor of the North Dakota University System.A reception at Epworth United Methodist Church, adjacent to Osmon Fieldhouse, will follow immediately after the ceremony.On Sept. 27, 2018, the State Board of Higher Education selected LaFave as the next president of Valley City State University. LaFave began his service to VCSU on Dec.17, 2018. A native of Onida, S.D., he previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.LaFave’s family includes his wife, Kari; daughters Ashley and Lexi; and son-in-law Logan Fahnhorst.At Northern State, LaFave worked his way through the faculty ranks from instructor to full professor in the music department (1991-2015). He also served as the music department chair (1994-97) and associate dean and dean of the School of Fine Arts (1997-2015). LaFave served as provost and vice president for academic affairs from 2015-18. His professional background includes three years at Aberdeen Central High School, and he also served at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D. (1990-91).An accomplished musician and conductor, LaFave holds doctoral and master’s degrees in clarinet performance from Arizona State University, where he studied with Robert Spring. LaFave also holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Northern State University, where he studied with James Gai. He is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association. He has performed, conducted and adjudicated throughout the United States and Canada, including 14 states and 3 provinces.Other inauguration events include a Thursday evening recital and a Friday evening concert. Both LaFave and Spring will perform alongside VCSU student and faculty musicians in an inauguration recital at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, in Vangstad Auditorium on the VCSU campus. The Chicago tribute band Transit Authority will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, on the McFarland Lawn on campus, with an inclement weather location in Osmon Fieldhouse.The public is invited to attend the inauguration ceremony and reception, and the recital and concert, all with no charge for admission. The inauguration coincides with Homecoming on the VCSU campus; the public is also encouraged to participate in those events as well.

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Several Valley City State University alumni will be honored during the VCSU Alumni Association 2019 Homecoming celebration to be held Friday-Saturday, Sept. 27- 28. On Saturday morning, the Alumni Honors Breakfast will be held at the VCSU Student Center cafeteria beginning at 8:30 a.m. The Honors Breakfast provides the VCSU Alumni Association with an opportunity to present fellow alumni with Certificate of Merit, Alumni Service, and Distinguished Alumni awards. Six alumni will be honored with the Certificate of Merit Award, adopted by the VCSU Alumni Association to recognize alumni for accomplishments, service or other noteworthy honors. This year’s recipients include Galen Brantley, Soldotna, Alaska; Kevin Bratland, Enderlin, N.D.; David Griffin, Bismarck, N.D.; Scott King, Malta, Montana; Rhonda (Schneekloth) Nudell, Buffalo, N.D.; and Wayne Steiner, Wahpeton, N.D..Alumni Service Award recipients include George Berger, Binford, N.D., and Teresa (Pritchard) and Todd Christiansen, Valley City. The Alumni Service Award was adopted by the VCSU Alumni Association to recognize alumni or university friends who have attained exceptional achievement in their careers and have made significant contributions to the university through dedicated service, promotion, financial support or other efforts. The Distinguished Alumni Award was adopted by the VCSU Alumni Association to recognize alumni/alumnae who have achieved prominence in their chosen field of endeavor. The nominee must have received national or international recognition and must have been identified as an expert in the individual’s chosen field. This year Mel McNea, North Platte, Nebraska, will be recognized as the 61st recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.The public is invited to attend the all Alumni Honors Breakfast on Saturday, Sept 28. Tickets are $10 each and may be reserved by calling the VCSU Alumni Office at 701-845-7403 or by emailing kim.hesch@vcsu.edu.The Valley City State University Alumni Association is sponsoring a number of additional events to celebrate Homecoming 2019.Friday, September 27<\b>•Alumni welcome back ice cream social at 2:30 p.m. in the Student Center Lounge.Saturday, September 28<\b>•Homecoming Parade (10:30 a.m.) down Central Avenue in Valley City.•First Annual VCSU Alumni Motorcycle/Class Car Cruise following the parade. This fun run and cruise is open to anyone wanting to ride their motorcycle or drive their classic car. Stops include Ashtabula Crossing, Punky’s Bar (Dazey), and J&L’s Bar & Grill (Sanborn). There is a $20 entry fee. All proceeds raised will be donated to the V-500 Scholarship program. The first 75 participants will receive an official VCSU Homecoming bandana. To preregister, call 701-845-7203.•Viking Tailgating at Lokken Stadium starting at noon.•VCSU football with the Vikings hosting Dakota State University in the homecoming game. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. at Lokken Stadium. •Postgame All Alumni & Friends Social following the football game at the Valley City Eagles Club. For more information about Valley City State University’s Homecoming 2019 festivities, contact the VCSU Foundation and Alumni Office at 701-845-7203.

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Valley City State University has been ranked the No. 2 public regional college in the Midwest in the 2020 U.S. News Best College Rankings. VCSU was ranked third in the 2019 rankings.VCSU has now appeared in the U.S. News “Best College” rankings for 22 consecutive years, and the university has been ranked in the top three Midwest public regional colleges each year since 2010.“Valley City State has maintained a record of academic excellence for decades,” said President Alan LaFave, “and we’re proud to see VCSU once again ranked among the top public schools in our region. The rankings speak to the good work done together by our students, faculty and staff, along with the strong support of our alumni, friends and the Valley City community.”The U.S. News rankings are based on data including retention and six-year graduation rates, graduation rates for low-income students (based on federal Pell Grant recipients), measures of student excellence (ACT/SAT scores and high school class standing), the alumni giving rate, and educational expenditure per student. A peer assessment by college and university officers also factors into the rankings.The Midwest region comprises12 states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.The U.S. News rankings can be found in the “Best Colleges 2020” guidebook and online at www.usnews.com/best-colleges.

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In addition to the new faculty I introduced in my previous column, we also have more than two dozen staff members who have joined us in the past academic year or moved to new roles on campus. Although they’re not typically in the classroom, these individuals often have much direct contact with students, and regardless of their responsibilities, they contribute greatly to making a VCSU education what it is for our students and their families.Joining the staff this summer in time for the start of the school year are the following 11 individuals who assume a variety of roles, from coaching to Enrollment Services to Facilities and more.

  • Taylor Balkan, interim assistant volleyball coach
  • Janell Burkhart, athletic trainer intern
  • Jacob Frey, admissions specialist
  • Christopher Glaser, building services
  • Sarah Larsen, collaborative pianist (Music Department) and administrative assistant (Career Services)
  • Barbara Mattson, associate head softball coach
  • Mark Mattson, head softball coach
  • P.J. Peterson, assistant football coach and graduate assistant
  • Cassandra Preston, office coordinator (Facilities Services) and payroll specialist (Payroll)
  • Kayla Sorby, graphic designer
  • Dustin Yorek, building security
It should be noted that Taylor, Jacob, Sarah, P.J. and Cassandra are all VCSU alumni. Darien Moore, who also attended VCSU, will join us in mid-November as assistant track and field throw coach.Other staff members recognized formally at Welcome Week include the following seven individuals who joined us during the last academic year. They also participated in our group orientation sessions this August. This group includes:
  • Kelsie Carter, mental health counselor (formerly admissions specialist)
  • Debra Dramstad, IT support specialist
  • Erin Heide, admissions counselor
  • Chasity Lovell, administrative assistant, Graduate Studies
  • Anthony Wendel, academic systems administrator
  • Kelly Tabor, maintenance and grounds
  • Meghan McCulloch, student records specialist, Registrar’s Office
Another member of this group is me, Al LaFave; I began my service to VCSU in mid-December. Note that in this group Debra, Anthony and Meghan are VCSU graduates.We also have six individuals who have moved to new roles; some of these folks began their work in their new positions during the last academic year; others have just begun their new jobs recently. These include:
  • Kari Bodine, interim head golf coach and assistant sports information director/athletic marketing (formerly Career Services coordinator)
  • Kerry Gregoryk, director for institutional effectiveness and planning (formerly interim director, Academic Assessment and Institutional Research)
  • Carolyn Holen, web content specialist (formerly administrative assistant, Science Department)
  • Kaleen Peterson, director, Student Academic Services (formerly assistant director, Enrollment Services)
  • Oscar Suniga, admissions counselor (formerly administrative assistant, Enrollment Services)
  • Betty Tykwinski, director for health and wellness (formerly interim director, Student Academic Services)
In this group, Oscar is the VCSU alumnus.Not counting me, that’s 25 people in new staff roles here at VCSU. Each of them plays a key part in providing our students with the coaching, services, technology and facilities needed to succeed here in Valley City, and I’m proud to join them on the VCSU team.Go Vikings!