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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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)