The Class of 2022

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Last Thursday evening (Sept. 6), more than 100 students, faculty and staff participated in “Back to the City” night, crossing the footbridge together about 5:30 p.m., and heading up Central Avenue to enjoy a celebration of campus and community. For our freshmen, this was their introduction to the Valley City retail district and, for many of them, their first chance to see the wide range of shopping opportunities and services available downtown.As we meet our new students and welcome them to their new home in Valley City, I thought I would take a few moments to introduce them to you. Most of our new freshmen are 18 years old, and therefore born in 2000. No longer “millennials,” this new generation is not yet named, although some refer to them as “iGen” or “Gen Z,” or even “Generation App.”These proposed names bring attention to the importance of digital media for this generation—they have different ways of accessing information and communicating. They also grew up during a recession, which brings its own changes in their approach to frugality and career focus. And their sense of history is also different than the generations before them. “The 2018 Mindset List for the Class of 2022” (published annually at provides an interesting set of reminders about the world view these students share. With this group, for example, films have always been distributed on the Internet, and mass-market books have always been available as e-books. They have never used a spit bowl in a dentist’s office, and, for them, outer space has never been without human habitation. They have always had access to Wikipedia, and they have grown up afraid that a shooting could happen at their schools, too.Preliminary numbers for our particular class of 2022 show a wide range of interests, with majors in Elementary Education, Business, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, and Health Science comprising almost 50 percent of the students, but including 24 other major choices among the other half of the group. There are more males than females, and about 15 percent identify with a non-white ethnic group. About 75 percent of the students are from North Dakota; 30 of these students are from Barnes County. Students traveling farthest to reach VCSU are from Alaska, California, Washington, and Texas, with international students from Canada and Japan.Some researchers call this generation “the purpose-driven generation.” Our faculty and staff agree. Dr. Jeffrey Moser (Business Department chair), notes “an innate ability to perform in a team-based environment,” while Dr. Jonna Zinniel (Communications professor) indicates that they “bring energy and enthusiasm for authentic learning.” Kari Stricklin (Student Center director) similarly sees that “These students are ready and willing to do what is asked of them.” She says that we have “lots of energy and creative Vikings in our ship this year!” Pete Smithhisler (VP for student affairs) is enthusiastic about the way our new students have shown interest in meaningful participation in campus activities, and he looks forward to their involvement in developing campus initiatives. “They are not shy!” he tells me. “They are genuinely interested in getting to know people. They have provided a jolt of enthusiasm to the campus community this fall that has lifted morale and spirits.”We hope you have an opportunity to meet these newest members of our student body soon. Please join us in “welcoming them home” to VCSU and the community of Valley City.