Most of you probably know that Governor Burgum has relaxed some of the restrictions on business operations in the state, and you may be wondering what impact that change will have on NDSU. In short, the governor’s changes will not impact NDSU’s current operations. Approximately three months from now, NDSU intends to return to (mostly) normal operations with the Fall 2020 semester, and we will adhere to that schedule. In a unanimous vote yesterday, the SBHE encouraged all campuses to do the same. With this update, I want to provide some additional information about how we’re going to accomplish this.
Reactivation of Campus: Although there is going to be a loosening of business restrictions across the country, it is going to be important to continue to follow appropriate social-distancing options. To that end, NDSU will continue with its current operating posture, including remote work arrangements. We are not immediately changing those measures. Instead, we anticipate a ramp-up period with various employees returning to campus in July and August depending on responsibilities.
With the fall semester still several months away, we are going to use that time to plan for what the return to campus will look like. We expect to offer most of our classes through in-person instruction this fall, but we must also plan to accommodate our vulnerable populations. Effectively managing both these imperatives will not be easy. It will take creativity and thoughtfulness.
Leaders from each of NDSU’s divisions and faculty have already started envisioning and planning for this reactivation. It isn’t an easy task, but we will be guided by best practices and advice from public health professionals. Let me assure you that we will continue to keep you informed as plans become more well developed. If you have ideas for reactivating campus that you think might be overlooked, please share them with your faculty or staff senate representative or supervisor. We have a significant amount of time, and we intend to use it wisely.
Please take a moment to read an update that I recently provided to our current and incoming students and families. It helps set the tone of prudent optimism that we should be feeling about our future.
VSIP/Budget/Enrollment: As previously indicated, we anticipate that we will need to cut the budget in the fall because of prior years’ enrollment decreases. I’m pleased to say that our new student numbers for fall continue to look good so far, but a successful recruiting effort will only mitigate, not eliminate, the need for budget cuts.
Knowing that the budget will have to be cut and knowing that we need to modify campus operations for the fall, we have decided to immediately offer another Voluntary Separation Incentive Program. We’re initiating the VSIP now rather than during the academic year to allow eligible candidates the option of separating before the return to campus this fall. Details of this program will be coming out soon.
Sugihara Hall: I want to end this update on a good note, and I am extremely pleased to announce that the State Board of Higher Education unanimously approved the naming of the replacement for Dunbar Hall. The new building will be named Sugihara Hall in honor of Dr. James M. Sugihara. At the age of 24, he and his family were sent to an internment camp at the start of World War II. After being granted an educational leave from the camp, he attended University of California-Berkeley and ultimately became the first Ph.D. recipient from the University of Utah. Dr. Sugihara became a nationally known chemist and longtime NDSU faculty member and senior leader at NDSU. However, that brief description does not begin to capture the truly amazing personal and professional life of Dr. Sugihara. More information about Dr. Sugihara will be coming later, but for now, I cannot think of a more appropriate way to memorialize Dr. Sugihara’s life and contributions than by naming NDSU’s newest science building after him. His profound legacy will continue to live on through the next generation of research.
Dean L. Bresciani, President