A few items for discussion:
1. Huron Consulting. It will come as no surprise that the higher education landscape is changing dramatically. Changes in demographics, enrollment, state support and modalities of educational delivery are just a few of the major variables impacting colleges and universities across the country. NDSU is not immune to these changes. We have gone through several years of budget cuts, some of which were caused by state budget cuts and some of which were caused by enrollment losses. All of us have felt the pinch of budget cuts these past years.
The good news is that NDSU is positioned to weather the storm if we act strategically, thoughtfully and creatively. We are located in a vibrant city in a state with a growing population. These two factors will help offset some of the difficulties that other areas of the country will feel.
However, we cannot rely solely on these factors to help us through these difficult times. We need to evolve NDSU’s operations to position it for success in the upcoming years and decades. To that end, we need to take a hard look at our academic programs in order to see what we do well and where we need improvements. In essence, we need to be strong enough as an institution to gaze into a mirror and be objective about what we see.
I have asked Provost Fitzgerald to lead this effort. However, the analysis is far more complicated than we can perform internally, and as a result, NDSU retained Huron Consulting, which is one of the premier education consultants in the country. Huron will analyze financial and administrative data provided by NDSU in order to develop an objective, data-based report about our academic programming that will be delivered later this spring.
Please know that this involves a different methodology than was used for the Strategic Planning process. For example, there is no committee associated with this procedure. Instead, NDSU provides Huron with financial/administrative data, and they conduct interviews and survey campus. We will hear more about their plans to engage with campus as the process progresses. The information they collect and analyze is used to generate a report that will be widely shared and distributed through a series of campus wide discussions in April.
Nevertheless, in an effort to be as transparent as possible, we will be doing two things. First, Provost Fitzgerald will share information during her Conversations with Colleagues this week, and you will have the opportunity to meet representatives of Huron who will explain their methodology. This discussion will take place on Friday at 10:00 a.m. You can find the zoom link here: https://ndsu.zoom.us/j/92361960946 . Secondly, we will be creating a website where you will be able to read about this process, including a project calendar and weekly reports. The provost’s office will email the link once the site is built.
2. Vaccination Information. I mentioned in my last campus update, that we were attempting to move higher education personnel higher in the North Dakota’s vaccination distribution priorities. I’m pleased to report that the Governor’s office has indicated that higher education personnel will be in Phase 1C of priorities as “All other essential workers per Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)”. In addition, the Governor has indicated that if the vaccination distribution has not reached that group by July 1, then higher education personnel will automatically be eligible as of July 1. Hopefully, the vaccines will be distributed well before that time, but it is good to have July 1 as a backstop because it means that all personnel will be able to have a vaccination prior to the start of the fall semester.
3. Testing Results. We continue to see improving conditions throughout the state, but please remember that we are not out of the woods yet. We need to continue with the safety guidelines, and in particular, I want to remind people that masks are still required on campus.
Although our campus’ weekly testing participation rates are not as high as last semester, the positivity rates are extremely low:
BNX (Rapid Screening)
BNX (Rapid Screening)
4. Weekly Testing. Mass testing events will continue to be at the SHAC on Thursdays, and you should enter using the south doors. The dates and times are as follows:
February 11: 1-5 pm
February 18: 1-5 pm
February 25: 1-5 pm
For students only, in addition to the Thursday asymptomatic testing at the SHAC, asymptomatic testing is also available at the Student Health Service on Tuesdays from 8:30am - 4:30pm. No appointment is needed and students can walk-in.
We would like every employee to get tested at least every other week. However, if you are working in an area with significant exposure to others, it would be better to get tested every week. As always, being tested at these events should be considered work time, and I’m asking supervisors to be flexible to allow for employee testing.
Some final points about testing:
• Testing is free.
• You can preregister here. However, if you have already registered for a prior testing event, you do not have to re-register.
• It is not limited to people living on campus. All students, including off-campus students, are encouraged to participate.
• You do not have to have symptoms in order to get this testing. In fact, this testing is only for individuals who are asymptomatic. If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact Student Health Service or your local health care facility to determine next steps.
Dean L. Bresciani, President