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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published November 10 2010

Groups highlight challenges at NDSU in report to Bresciani

A lack of resources, inadequate facilities and difficulty attracting graduate students are among the challenges highlighted for North Dakota State University in campus focus group reports to the new president.

Dean Bresciani asked students, faculty and staff to participate in “listening groups” and give him feedback to set the stage for long-term planning.

The results were made public Tuesday on NDSU’s website at http://sp.ndsu.edu.

Bresciani asked groups to identify areas of excellence, areas with potential, challenges for NDSU and areas that will be difficult for NDSU to excel at on a national level.

Bresciani, who started at NDSU last summer, said he wanted a broad range of input to help him as he starts a strategic planning process next spring.

The next step will be to allow anyone from campus or the public to comment on the reports posted on NDSU’s website.

“The best universities in the nation are successful when everyone in the university’s community feels involved, feels that their voices are heard and feels engaged with the direction that the university is taking,” Bresciani said.

Some of the challenges for NDSU that were consistently raised in the reports:

One of the reports that began circulating last week generated some controversy among faculty. It identified some programs as “struggling” or “not going to be excellent” based on the opinions of group members.

Brandy Randall, co-chairwoman of that particular listening group, said the group submitted a revised report that excluded the assessment of programs. However, it’s included on the website.

Amy Rupiper Taggart, president of the Faculty Senate, said some were concerned when the reports first came out that they were finished products.

However, Bresciani clarified for faculty this week that everyone will have a chance to submit reactions to the reports.

“People have been glad to hear that they are not the end destination but rather the beginning of a larger discussion,” Rupiper Taggart said.

Some recommendations were far-reaching.

For example, the Graduate School report suggested that NDSU and the University of North Dakota “amicably separate” from their current relationship with the North Dakota University System. The report suggested that NDSU instead receive direct oversight from the state Board of Higher Education.

In addition to feedback on teaching and research, groups submitted reports on student engagement and communication and branding. Outreach listening groups will meet in Dickinson and Williston later this month.

Kris Mickelson, president of the Staff Senate who was part of the branding and communication group, said she liked the process.

“In this administration with President Bresciani, I think feedback is always welcome and there’s always an avenue for it,” Mickelson said.

Rupiper Taggart said she appreciates that Bresciani is a good listener.

“I like the notion of hearing from everybody on the campus and trying to pay attention to all corners and not just the prominent ones,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590