NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani says the university’s “Unity of Purpose” is powering the institution’s advancement. That theme was prominent during his second State of the University Address on Sept. 29.
Speaking to an audience of more than 400 people in Festival Concert Hall, Bresciani said NDSU could have reasonably been expected to hold its ground because of a number of financial, legislative and other challenges. Instead, great things happened – NDSU was classified among the top 108 public and private institutions in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s elite category of “very high research,” annual research expenditures rose to $126 million and Bison Athletics is one of the most successful programs in the country.
“Our successes, and our contributions to the state and nation, are a growing reality that few can deny,” Bresciani said. “The potential here is exceptional, if not without parallel in the nation. As we continue listening and responding to state needs, and as our success at doing so becomes better understood, I sense a growing understanding that NDSU has become one of the most successful aspects of our state’s vitality.”
According to Bresciani, the university’s strategic planning process shows that the campus wants to do more. He said, “The group demonstrated that NDSU has something few organizations ever enjoy; it’s called ‘Unity of Purpose.’ The participants might easily have seen their roles in that final planning phase as last-stand advocates for their own areas, but instead, they saw the bigger opportunity; they fought for each other and for NDSU.”
He said, “Unity of Purpose is a powerful thing.”
Bresciani said the planning committee defines program excellence for a select number of academic endeavors as a top 20 national ranking. Building on the process, he said new Provost Bruce Rafert is developing an “Academic Roadmap” to move the university forward.
“The Academic Roadmap will define a specific path the university will follow to take it from being a rapidly emerging research university to achieving even higher levels of national and internal distinction,” Bresciani said. “The Roadmap will also help us provide counsel to thought leaders across the state concerning specific areas of responsible resource investment in what we do at NDSU.”
Bresciani said NDSU has seen a long history of under-funding, and he earlier estimated it would take several years to address those issues before NDSU could continue to develop its potential.
“Through untold hard work, sacrifices from virtually every segment of the campus, challenging discussions with state leaders, and not just a willingness but an unprecedented demand by our students to increase their own tuition, it is an unanticipated but exceptional pleasure to share with you that for the first time in a long time, NDSU has stopped the financial slide we were in, and today already enjoys a responsibly balanced budget,” Bresciani said.
He said university personnel can be proud of both NDSU’s accomplishments and its capacity for the future. Bresciani said NDSU returns almost $7 to the state’s economy for every $1 of state support, and few, if any, features of North Dakota bring more external resources, new businesses, jobs and new people to the state than the research universities. He said people should spread that message.
“Our job – my job, your job – will be to help our neighbors, our civic leaders and our legislative representatives to understand and appreciate the impact, and see the unique and powerful potential that NDSU offers,” Bresciani said. “That’s not just our challenge; that’s not just our opportunity; it is our responsibility.”
In closing, Bresciani shared a personal story of how his immigrant father did not finish grade school and his mother’s family moved to California during the dust bowl years. Yet, they built a family business and supported him going to college, seeking the potential for a better life.
“That is why higher education is so important to me, and to those it impacts —whether they realize it or not,” Bresciani said. “It is an honor to work in higher education, and an honor to be part of our work at one of the nation’s top-ranked, student-focused, land-grant, research universities – where we are today accomplishing and contributing more to our state and nation than ever before in history. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that, and for your exceptional work and support that makes it possible to change the lives of those around us.”
The speech is available as a script and webcast archived at www.ndsu.edu/president/speeches.