Despite a balking from the North Dakota University System chancellor, Dean Bresciani still believes 18,000 students at North Dakota State is possible.
In a Nov. 12 letter to The Forum, the president outlined specific details of his desire to achieve 18,000 students enrolled at NDSU by 2018. He emphasized student retention rates, increasing graduate student enrollment and requesting approval for additional housing, among other plans.
Overall, Bresciani clarified his plans for an extra 3,500 students enrolled at NDSU in three years.
“The overwhelming message from civic leaders, business leaders and individual citizens around the state is that North Dakota needs all of our two-year, four-year and research universities to educate and graduate more students. Our state’s current job vacancies of 20,000 positions, most of which call for a college education, is estimated to double if not triple by 2020,” Bresciani wrote.
“At North Dakota State University, we’ve heard the message loud and clear and will do our part by raising enrollment to 18,000 students over the next five years.”
Retention is a driving force behind Bresciani’s plan.
The president wrote he hopes to implement initiatives “to help more students succeed,” such as the NDSU Library’s math emporium which opened this fall.
“Based on extensive analysis of math courses that typically stall students’ success, the emporium helps students master areas that have been stumbling blocks,” Bresciani wrote.
Bresciani also wrote about implementing “early warning mechanisms” for identifying students “head toward academic roadblocks.”
The president also emphasized campus housing, citing that the university turns away 600 sophomores who desire to live on campus.
This contradicted what Rian Nostrum, the director of residence life, said last spring.
“I’ve never contacted an upperclass student (from the waiting list) and said, ‘Sorry, we don’t have housing,’” he said. “We’ve always emptied the waitlist.”
Nostrom added if a student waits long enough, s/he will be placed.
“We will be requesting approval for additional housing capacity to accommodate their needs,” Bresciani wrote, adding that NDSU is not seeking state funding for funding, a fact NDUS chancellor Mark Hagerott cited in an interview with The Forum.
Bresciani also wrote about increasing graduate student enrollment.
“Graduate students are in many ways easier to absorb, as they tend to use fewer campus accommodations,” the president wrote. “More important, business leaders have called on us to produce more such students to meet the state’s needs, particularly in engineering and science fields that require masters or doctoral preparation.”
Third and finally, Bresciani noted in his letter that the university will “accept responsibility” for more undergraduates seeking NDSU’s “particular educational experience.”
Despite 18,000 being a record enrollment number for the university, Bresciani wrote that 18,000 is still a small number for a public research university.
“This size will maintain our student-focused approach and will not trigger new requests for state-funded buildings,” he wrote.