Campus News

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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!