North Dakota State College of Science President Dr. John Richman presented his annual State of the College Address Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Wahpeton campus.
He reviewed 2017 highlights including the school’s steady enrollment, which has been at the 3,000 mark for the past six years; the school’s student focus – measured by their retention rate, graduation rate and placement rate, which all are at or exceed the national averages of other two-year colleges. He talked of the school’s strong fiscal position, with a portfolio valued at more than $20 million; national and regional recognition of programs and partnerships with education and industry.
“I think most people think business and industry, but we’re developing deeper partnerships and relationships with our 12-K partners, the CTE regional centers. That’s critical for us,” he said.
Business and industry continues to support the college through entrusted equipment.
“We have over $11 million in entrusted equipment – not ours, not the state’s – it still belongs to the companies. They give that to us to use as training components in our programs, so our students have the latest greatest technology available to them so they’re better prepared to enter the workforce,” Richman said.
The NDSCS student body is made up primarily of North Dakota students, at 68.7 percent and 24 percent are from Minnesota. The total 2017 fall enrollment was at 2,985.
Richman spoke about the ways students are served and how different educational delivery systems are served. Several decades ago, the majority of students attended classes at the Wahpeton campus. Today, 44 percent are at Wahpeton, 24 percent are early entry or dual credit, 16 percent are hybrid and 6 percent are online. Nearly half of Wahpeton students live on campus.
More than 57 percent of students are enrolled full-time and 47 of 53 North Dakota counties are represented in the fall 2017 student enrollment.
NDSCS has a 98 percent graduation rate, and the beginning average monthly salary for grads is $3,297.
Richman also spoke about the college’s fiscal position.
“In recent months, we all understand that we were required by the legislature and the state board to reduce our budget by 20 percent. We all understand what we went through. We did that and we still strengthened, improved our fiscal position,” he said.
He thanked the staff and students for their hard work during that process and their willingness to listen, share ideas and make tough decisions.
In order to attract, retain, educate, graduate and place students into the workforce, the college has to provide a clean, safe and healthy environment. Recently, a two-year $13 million infrastructure project was completed on the Wahpeton campus and more than $1 million was spent to renovate classroom and lab space for the HVAC/R program, which was partially funded by more than $432,000 in donations from heating and cooling manufacturer Trane.
Looking to the future, strategic goals for the next three years were presented. They are to improve the student learning experience, strategically meet business and industry needs in North Dakota and the region, commitment to the continuous development of NDSCS employees and strengthen relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
Challenges facing NDSCS are changing the two-year college perception, free/reduced tuition in neighboring states, aligning operations/personnel with budget and demands, addressing student socioeconomic barriers and changing the landscape.