MSU President's Newspaper Column

August 19, 2023

Looking to the 2023-24 academic year with key objectives as a guide

It’s been a great week as we are in the final stretch to the kickoff of the 2023-24 academic year. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 21. Pre-service activities for faculty and staff were held Wednesday through Friday. This is a time for workshops, getting people caught up on the various teaching tools available to them, and more.

Members of our President’s Cabinet each gave updates from their various areas at an all-campus meeting Wednesday morning, Aug. 16. This was followed by my annual state of the university address and lunch in the Mayville State cafeteria for all attending.

In the upcoming academic year, we’ll be focusing on four key objectives: enrollment, workforce development, fundraising, and the renovation of Old Main. Each of these focus areas aligns with Mayville State’s newly adopted strategic plan as well as the State Board of Higher Education strategic plan.

With regard to enrollment, change is happening all around us and we must adapt to a changing society. In just the last several months, we’ve seen institutions of higher education in our region, Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D. and Iowa Wesleyan in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, close their doors. There are numerous examples of closings across the country.

Maintaining a stable enrollment is integral to our financial vitality, and overall campus health. We must leverage our competitive advantages of personal service and safety to attract students. To assure a bright future, we will continue to assess best practices in recruiting, enrollment, and attainment going forward.

Workforce development is a major need for the state of North Dakota. We will be looking at everything we can do to offer degrees people want, where and when they need them. We will need to think outside the box and adopt new strategies.

Private fundraising has become increasingly important to what we do at Mayville State, and the MSU Foundation has consistently experienced record-breaking fundraising goals over the last several years and we must keep the momentum going. The ability to offer scholarships is extremely important as we work to recruit and retain students.

We are fortunate to have been allotted $1.1 million in Challenge Grant Funding from the North Dakota Legislature for use during the current biennium. This amount represents an increase from $700,000 in the last biennium. The challenge grant provides a 50% match for all private gifts made to Mayville State and designated for academic scholarships. Raising $2.2 million in private gifts for scholarships will equate to a total impact of $3.3 million. This would have a huge positive result for the university.

The fourth major focus for the upcoming year is the renovation of Old Main, which is integral to providing a safe and comfortable environment in which our employees and students work and study. It also contributes to our ability to attract and retain students, thus supporting enrollment goals.

We were extremely fortunate to have received $52 million in state funding provided through the work of the state legislature for this purpose. We are grateful from the bottoms of our hearts for this funding that will be life-changing for Mayville State University. We appreciate all that our local legislators, Jared Hagert, Randy Lemm, and Mike Beltz, and those beyond our district did to help make this happen.

Preliminary work for the project is underway, with the first task being the hiring of an architect, then a Construction Manager at Risk. A committee will work on design during the first six months of 2024, with actual construction scheduled to begin in the summer of 2024. Our goal is to have the renovated building ready for occupancy in July of 2026.

Our faculty and staff give Mayville State a very important competitive advantage. I am grateful for our employees who go above and beyond to make Mayville State the best it can be day after day. Every day is a great day to be a Comet, and we look to the coming academic year with a renewed spirit of camaraderie and teamwork. These attributes are central to a bright future and making a difference for individuals in pursuit of their academic goals and dreams.