Interim legislative committee meets at VCSU

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Greetings from Valley City State University!On Thursday, July 18, Valley City State University hosted the Interim Higher Education Funding Formula Review Committee on campus. We sincerely appreciate all that the legislature has done for higher education and VCSU during this past session and are very excited to move forward with final design work on our new arts and communication building. We enjoyed having the committee on campus and welcomed the opportunity to provide an update on the good things happening here at VCSU. Dr. Margaret Dahlberg, vice president for academic affairs, reminded the committee of the VCSU vision statement: “As an innovative university, we deliver distinctive, learner-centered activities.” We continually try new tools and explore options for academic offerings and course-delivery methods. We provide engaging, one-of-a-kind experiences as we focus on our niche areas, and strive to be learner-centered by focusing on students’ growth and development. When we make decisions, we always ask, “How will this impact the students?”Evidence for our commitment to innovation can be found in the addition of two new academic degrees. The Bachelor of Applied Science degree offer pathways for students transitioning to a bachelor’s degree tailored to their needs in management, retail or entrepreneurial studies, while the Associate Arts degree (pending Higher Learning Commission approval) offers students an option if life circumstances necessitate leaving a bachelor’s program; the AA degree also helps support the workforce needs of the community.The VCSU elementary education program continues to distinguish itself as one of the strongest programs in the state and region. With more than 300 students enrolled, the program directly helps fill teacher vacancies throughout the state. One component of the program allows paraprofessionals already working in the classroom to complete their degrees through our online course offerings. Other areas of distinction include our Fisheries and Wildlife Science program, with over 60 majors, the Health and Wellness program with over 50 majors in physical education and an additional 30 in exercise science, and the online bachelor’s degree in music with over 30 majors.Dr. Jamie Wirth shared a report on the activities of the Great Plains STEM Education Center at VCSU. This center, started by the late Dr. Don Mugan in 2010, leads the state and region in delivering outstanding professional development in integrative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education for K-12 teachers, administrators and students, both on the VCSU campus and on site at K-12 schools. Since January 2015, more than 2,000 K-12 teachers (including repeat attendees) in North Dakota have participated in one of our professional development workshops).Perhaps the most exciting development of the STEM Education Center has been the creation and implementation of the Middle School STEM Academy hosted the past two summers on our campus. With the help of Dr. Gary Ketterling, STEM Center education coordinator, and several VCSU science faculty members, this academy immersed students from New Town (N.D.) Public Schools and Eight Mile School District (Trenton, N.D.) in a week-long program of experiments, field trips and study. The academy aims to expose students to both the college experience and the plentiful career opportunities in STEM-related disciplines.It’s very exciting to witness the many positive developments in academic programs and STEM opportunities available for K-12 faculty, students and administrators. At VCSU, we will continue to respond proactively to the workforce needs of the state and region and provide programming to help ensure student success.Go Vikings!