Last month, North Dakota State turned 125, but you would never have known it.
For all the revelry that usually comes with a big birthday, NDSU celebrated with two cakes and an installation of timeline photos in the basement of the library.
Meanwhile, a fourth consecutive national football championship stole the show for two months at the university.
Seems a bit unbalanced, eh?
A 125th anniversary comes only once, and NDSU’s observance of the milestone was weak and inadequate.
This birthday flop follows in the wake of December’s graduation ceremonies, events which did not have a venue until the outcome of the Dec. 13 NDSU-Coastal Carolina football game.
Following NDSU’s win, the fall semester graduation was split into three ceremonies staged at Festival Concert Hall which has 1,000 seats – insufficient for an event like a graduation.
I understand televising reasons came into play and the Fargodome’s availability was up in air at the time, but if NDSU values its graduating students, the university would have selected a venue and written the details of the ceremony in stone well before the football game.
Pick a venue. Any venue.
The ceremony marking the end of thousands of academic careers should not be contingent on a football game. Leaving location details up in the air was a disrespectful move by NDSU, a school that has put its athletics over its academics in recent years.
Four-straight national championships is a big deal, yeah, but you know what? Students are more important. The university is more important than its athletics.
Sure, athletics bring in boatloads of revenue for the school, but NDSU is a student-focused, land-grant, research university (or so says its website banner).
We have hundreds of students and researchers at this school doing remarkable research on everything from conflict communication to cystic fibrosis to potato varieties.
Where is their recognition? In articles linked to slides on NDSU’s homepage.
While that’s something, short publicity write-ups are nothing like the attention athletics has received.
We are a university before we are a sports organization. NDSU is for higher education, not for athletic entertainment. The university already botched one important birthday and screwed over a graduating class in its poor representation of its true purpose: education.
Let’s hope the university recognizes its real priorities before other milestones and non-athletic highlights pass by unnoticed.