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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published December 19 2010

Higher Education Notebook: NDSU student government supports marching band

North Dakota State University students have stepped up in support of the band program.

Members of the Gold Star Marching Band weren’t going to receive stipends this semester because there wasn’t money in the budget.

NDSU’s student government decided to allocate $40,000 from a reserve fund of student fee dollars to the band so students will receive the stipends, said Kevin Black, NDSU student body president.

Student government also has invested in equipment, uniforms and instruments for the band in past years, Black said.

NDSU’s marching band has increased from 83 members to more than 220 in three years.

“Anybody who goes to the games loves to see their performances and would comment on how far they’ve come in three years,” Black said. “That has a lot to do with student government’s investment in marching band.”

One strategy to grow the band was to award members modest stipends to encourage members to return and become leaders.

The annual stipends range from $150 for first-year members to $500 for section leaders and $600 for drum majors.

Members attend a weeklong band camp before the classes begin. During the semester, they practice three times a week for one hour and 45 minutes. On game days, they start as early as 7:30 a.m. and may not be done until 10 p.m.

“They don’t do it for the money; they do it because they love it,” Black said.

Sigurd Johnson, director of athletic bands, said the band program receives support from the university, but stable funding for stipends wasn’t available this year.

“Everybody loves what we’re doing, but the money isn’t readily available right now,” Johnson said.

Student government also allocated money for the pep band to play for the women’s volleyball game at the University of Minnesota.

Many members of the marching band also participate in pep band.

Backes leaving board

Jon Backes, North Dakota Board of Higher Education president, is not seeking a second term on the board.

Backes, of Minot, said serving on the board is a significant time commitment and he needs to focus more time on his law practice.

“We’ve moved the higher ed agenda forward in four years, and it’s time to let someone else try their hand at it,” he said.

Backes will serve through June 30.

M State study

Minnesota State Community and Technical College is participating in a national study designed to improve the college experience for students who are beginning their first year or seeking transfer degrees.

MSCTC is one of 22 two-year colleges nationwide participating in the study.

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education invited MSCTC to participate. The goal of the study is to improve student learning and retention.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590 or adalrymple@forumcomm.com