Message from President Cook 1/25/2023

Message from President Cook

January 25, 2023

Dear NDSU Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni and Friends,

I’m writing today to share progress being made regarding continuing transformation efforts for North Dakota State University.  Since my arrival last spring, my leadership team and I have worked to assess the university’s fiscal situation and determine how best to proceed. This process began on my first day and continues to this moment. Through it all, we have engaged as many of our stakeholders as possible for feedback, input and recommendations for NDSU’s future. We’ve attempted to be as transparent as possible through many meetings, coffees, lunches, and other gatherings, to reflect and share openly about what we’re faced with. Thank you for your contributions, care and concern for our future; without question, it’s been a difficult process for us to first, acknowledge the significance of our reality, and second, to do something about it. I’m grateful and appreciative of the hard work of our leaders – particularly by our Interim Provost and Deans – to navigate these challenging times and provide direction for our future.

In this process, we are guided by our five strategic priorities:

  • Enhancing enrollment, retention and student success
  • Prioritizing NDSU’s Research-1 Carnegie classification status as a top research institution
  • Investing in the well-being of the people across the NDSU community
  • Building a stronger culture of diversity, inclusion and respect
  • Embracing NDSU’s critical role as a land-grant university

Three key strategies for our transformation include:

  • Right-sizing operations through college mergers and academic program efficiencies,  
  • Strategic investing in opportunities that will enhance our academic enterprise and improve retention and enrollment, and
  • Modernizing our financial infrastructure through an incentivized budget model for colleges and reorganizing how financial services are delivered.  

Earlier today, the plan for college mergers and proposed plans for academic program efficiencies and strategic investments was presented to the Campus Leadership Assembly.  A copy of the presentation can be found here.  In the coming weeks, I will continue to socialize this plan through various campus forums and engagements. More detail is provided below.

College Mergers:  Towards the end of last semester, we sought input from all of you by proposing plans involving potential college mergers.  I want to thank everyone who provided comments, especially our Interim Provost and Deans who worked together to finalize the new structure. 

Based on that feedback, we are reducing the number of colleges from seven to five, outlined below:

  • College of Agriculture
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Health Professions and Human Sciences

Creating administrative efficiencies, while supporting education, research, outreach for workforce and economic development needs of North Dakota were at the forefront of our decision-making. The locations of all departments within these colleges can be found here.  A copy of feedback received over the past few months is available here.

Strategic Reductions:  At the end of last semester, we also indicated that we would be providing a plan that would outline additional strategic reductions in academic and non-academic programming.  While implementing cuts is a difficult process, the reality is that our operational structures have not kept pace with the marketplace reality and resulting enrollment declines; hard decisions are necessary.

Proposed efficiencies and reductions can be found at slides 6-10 of the presentation here.  I’m looking for input and feedback from the NDSU community on these reductions by February 15 via this survey.  After reviewing this feedback, I will finalize and report my decisions by late February. I want to again thank our Interim Provost and Deans, who worked to propose a number of difficult academic reductions, along with a range of other NDSU leaders who identified reductions in non-academic areas. 

NDSU would continue to provide students who are enrolled in academic programs mentioned in this email with an opportunity to complete their degrees or to change their majors if they would prefer.  Every student impacted by these reductions has already been contacted outlining their options. 

Some of these proposed changes may result in reductions of faculty and staff.  Every faculty and staff member whose job is potentially impacted by these changes has already been communicated with about their situation and ongoing outreach will continue.

Strategic Investments:  It is also necessary to make strategic investments in key areas to turn around our financial situation and position NDSU to better serve our students, faculty, staff and our state.  This means investing in new high-demand academic areas, improving our student experience, growing our research output, investing in the well-being of our people, and continuing to build a culture that embraces diversity and our historical mission as North Dakota’s 1862 Land Grant institution.

A detailed copy of the proposed investments can be found at slides 11-17 here.  We are asking for your input on these investments by February 15 via this survey.

Budget Model and Financial Services: Finally, we are nearly complete with the process of creating a new incentivized budget model for academic units and structure for the delivery of financial services.  This new model will improve our academic budgeting process and create incentives for colleges to grow enrollment and nurture retention efforts.  To be clear, this model will not have a direct impact on non-academic units’ budgeting efforts.  Over the past 5-6 months, we offered numerous opportunities for campus input, and we will be providing information about this structure by the end of February. 

Thank you again to everyone for helping traverse these challenges times.  Continuing to work together to identify strategic opportunities, while guided by a deep commitment to the institution, will make NDSU a stronger university moving forward.  I look forward to hearing all your feedback by February 15 via this survey.


My best,

David Cook, President


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