The priorities of President Cook and the success and struggles at NDSU
North Dakota State University President David Cook explained the challenges, goals and updates surrounding the university. On Friday, Cook and other leaders across campus gave an update about the state of NDSU. Enrollment, research and diversity were main points during Cook’s address.
This was Cook’s first Inauguration and State of the University Address since becoming the 15th president of NDSU in May of 2022. “I’m so appreciative, I’m so humbled. I’m so honored to be the 15th President of North Dakota State University.”
Cook explained that enrollment and retention are one of the largest priorities moving forward. Enrollment has been dropping, which is not uncommon for midwest universities. Cook explains that the funding formula will start to bring financial setbacks in the coming biennium. “When you’re not growing, those dollars start to hit you,” said Cook.
Cook pushes that the university should reflect the needs of North Dakota’s workforce. “I don’t care how big or how small we are, I want to know what the state needs,” said Cook. By building better relationships with community partners, the university can align with the workforce of the state.
Cook also explains that partnerships with community colleges are needed at NDSU. “We have to be a better transfer institution than we are,” said Cook.
However, the University has also had wins in terms of enrollment. NDSU has more PhD students than they have in the past. “More high school first year freshmen come to this institution than really any other college in the state and we’re very proud of that,” said Cook.
“At the end of the day when it comes to enrollment, if we’re educating more students and we’re changing their lives, I’m in on that, all day everyday,” said Cook.
Other points of action that Cook discussed included wellness for students, staff and faculty. Mental health and anxiety issues are something that young generations struggle with. The NDSU counseling center has added a relaxation room to accommodate this struggle.
Student Body President Christian Walth spoke earlier at the event. He explains that the Student Government funded this relaxation room, as well as a rugby field and the Esports Gaming Lounge. “We plan to further advocate for mental health and increase student involvement across campus. Student government is also looking to improve diversity and inclusion,” said Walth.
Diversity, Inclusion and Respect was another priority that was discussed by Cook. “First generation, students of color, Pell-Eligible students aren’t succeeding here as well as we’d like them to,” said Cook, “we need to figure out how to embrace everybody to make this a special place.”
By describing the summer tour of North Dakota, as well as his first months as president, Cook states that he has spent a lot of time listening and learning. He traveled to these places “just to listen and learn to see what we need from NDSU and I’ve learned a lot,” said Cook.
He has spent time with NDSU students, staff and faculty, as well as people all over the state. Cook attended 8 research centers and the extension offices around North Dakota. “Through that trip we discovered that we had a leader that desires to be actively present, involved and part of what it means to be a North Dakotan,” said Staff Senate President Fred Hudson.
NDSU has also had large advancements in research. The university received the Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant which will help them become a national leader in research, which will also result in top tier faculty.
Cook also stated that he has formed a leadership assembly that has met once, but will start meeting every month. “We talk about where we need to go,” said Cook. They will discuss challenges and have constructive conversations for the betterment of the university.
Cook explains that he feels very welcome at NDSU and he is having a blast as his role as president. “I’m a big believer that higher education and education period changes lives,” said Cook.