NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani says the institution is at one of the greatest turning points in its history. That message was a central theme of his fourth State of the University Address presented Oct. 10 in Festival Concert Hall.
Bresciani said the university faced a major financial crisis as he began his presidency in 2010, but NDSU’s budgetary picture has improved substantially, setting the stage for outstanding achievements.
“We have a long tradition of doing more with less, but soon we will be able to do more with more,” Bresciani explained, crediting the state legislature and governor for their approval of an objective, transparent and equitable funding formula.
“For NDSU, that resulted in an unprecedented $6.4 million adjustment over the current biennium,” Bresciani said. “Let me be definitive that my priority is improving the academic environment and scholarly achievement of NDSU. My end goal is to substantially increase our scholarly, social and economic contributions to those we serve.”
In a major announcement, Bresciani said academic budgets that were previously cut by 10 percent have been restored. “As we leave this hall today, the eviscerating 10 percent operating budget cuts experienced four years ago will be returned to academic deans, including the library, for redistribution within their colleges,” he said. “In addition, 3 percent will be added for inflation since that time, for a total 13 percent adjustment. This is huge.”
Bresciani said NDSU’s financial stability and its redesigned business processes have allowed the university to re-establish reserve funds at a level approaching what is recommended for NDSU’s peer institutions. “To be able to restore those lost resources today represents an immediate and exceptional boost to our academic priorities,” Bresciani said, noting the university’s recovery took three years, when he expected a timeline of five to 10 years.
“By my very purposeful design, we have become the institution of choice for students seeking a traditional, residential, full-time degree in a rigorous research university environment, and who intend to and do graduate in four years,” Bresciani said. “Those NDSU graduates, in increasing numbers, are the economic backbone of our state’s future success as they enter their careers or the increasingly strong graduate programs we offer. As a matter of fact, this fall we are reporting a record number of graduate students as well.”
Bresciani said NDSU undergraduate students enjoy a 14.4 percent average rate of return on their NDSU educational investment, and undergraduates recover all costs, including tuition, fees and forgone wages in an average of 10.6 years—a figure few peer institutions across the country can match. In addition, students’ average inflation-adjusted lifetime income increases by more than $5 for every $1 they invest in an NDSU education.
In the area of facilities, Bresciani said the NDSU’s new STEM classroom building project, an addition to the R-1 building in the Research and Technology Park and the nearly complete third phase of the Agricultural Experiment Station Research Greenhouse Complex offer exciting opportunities. Also, a comprehensive master planning process has begun for NDSU’s campus engineering facilities, renovations are underway to the food production laboratory of the College of Human Development and Education and the rededication is scheduled for the newly remodeled Minard Hall.
Bresciani also said the university will be developing much stronger support for the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Sciences, which he said “has become one of our most exciting areas of growth and success in meeting state needs for graduates in those fields.”
In addition, the Industrial Agriculture Communication Center will bear the name of former Sen. Quentin Burdick, and the lobby of Loftsgard Hall will be named to honor Roald Lund, former dean of agriculture.
“We now have the opportunity to not just prepare, but to deliver, on the contributions only a top tier research university can make. I’m talking about achievements of huge proportions. In fact, I predict the already substantial contributions we make to our students, our citizens and the economy of North Dakota will start to snowball,” Bresciani said.
Bresciani said because of careful planning and the new higher education funding formula, NDSU is starting to reinvest in the size and scope of the faculty, university facilities and the ability to teach students as never before.
“As a result of those reinvestments we are moving beyond an admirable vision, to the delivery of what only the best universities in the nation can offer the people they serve,” he said in closing. “At the same time, we are remaining the student focused, land-grant research university that is our tradition, our foundation and what we are increasingly and uniquely known for on a nationwide basis. Thank you for making our dreams become our reality, with the ultimate objective of better encouraging the success of those we serve.”
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.