Message from President Cook 4/26/2023

Message from President Cook

April 26, 2023

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

NDSU is a large, complicated organization which makes transforming it difficult.  To succeed, we need to ensure that we have community conversation and input.  That is why I have highlighted the importance of three President’s Councils during my first year at NDSU: 

  1. Council on Retention, Becky Bahe, Philip Hunt & Carrie Anne Platt, co-chairs.
  2. Council for Campus Well-being, Laura Oster-Aaland & Kimberly Wallin, co-chairs.
  3. Council for Diversity, Inclusion and Respect, Canan Bilen-Green & Phil Hunt, co-chairs. 

I asked the leadership of each of these Councils to put together a presentation for the leadership assembly today highlighting their activities for the past year and future plans.  You can find those presentations here along with the following synopsis prepared by each of the councils.   

President’s Council on Retention.  The President’s Council on Retention (PCoR) was formed to improve NDSU’s student retention rate through the development of structures, strategies, and resources that help us meet changing student needs. This year the council focused on advising, teaching quality, early intervention efforts, curriculum review, and re-enrollment campaigns. We also identified support for diverse learners and mentorship as essential areas of collaboration with the other president’s councils. Our outcomes for this year include the professional advising model starting in the Summer of 2023 and the teaching quality plan model starting in the Fall of 2023. To support these retention efforts, we recommend the university make strategic investments to expand professional advising, first-year experience courses, learning assistant/peer mentor programs as well as professional development for faculty and staff on embedding diversity, inclusion, respect, and belonging into curricular and co-curricular offerings.

 Next year the council plans to focus on supporting curricular changes, creating retention-related mentorship opportunities, and developing strategies to address class attendance.

President’s Council for Campus Well-being.  President’s Council on Campus Well-being has been active on campus since 2017 with the goal of increasing and sustaining all aspects of campus well-being. The focus is on students and employees. It is made up of approximately 50 students, faculty and staff representing all facets of campus.

Accomplishments of the PCCW this past year include:

  • Disseminated data to the campus community from a student survey on well-being and encouraging faculty and staff to take actions to promote well-being in the classroom and in interactions with students. See the summary here.  
  • Provided a suggested syllabus statement for faculty to use to remind students about mental health resources.
  • Held several campus events designed to increase our sense of community and promote physical health including: Walk to Well-being and Campus Clean up scheduled for April 27. Click here to sign up for the cleanup.
  • Created a here currently being used by the Senate Coordinating Committee to review all new and revised policies on elements of well-being.
  • Regularly held “Think . . .” events to bring a wide variety of health and well-being topics to campus.

Priorities for the upcoming year include:

  • Develop an inventory of current well-being and health promotion programs already in place for students and employees with the goal of providing infrastructure for their continuation.
  • Focus on employee well-being by assessing employee engagement and implementing action steps based on survey results.
  • Engage with the national Health Promoting Campuses Network to learn from other campuses and bring national awareness of the work at NDSU
  • Actively collaborate with other President’s Councils – Diversity, Inclusion and Respect and Retention to further the President’s priorities.

President’s Council for Diversity, Inclusion and Respect.  The President’s Council for Diversity, Inclusion and Respect (PCDIR) began in 2016 as an Inclusion Committee and was elevated to a President’s council in 2020. The PCDIR vision is that the NDSU community prioritizes and values diversity and inclusion and that we take collective responsibility for ensuring a sense of belonging, respect, and justice that supports the success of each person. During the 2022-2023 academic year, the PCDIR restructured its membership and had a change in leadership of one of its co-chairs.  Information on membership and history is available here.

Most recently the PCDIR focused on addressing issues identified by the 2021 Campus Climate Survey, developing action items to achieve the DIR goals of the strategic plan, and creating a shared definition of the terms “diversity, inclusion, and respect.”  Action items identified by the PCDIR to make our community more welcoming and inclusive include:

•     Allocate funds for substantial diversity scholarships including full-ride scholarships for Tribal students.

•     Require Searching for Excellence training for all search committee members.

•     Encourage use of NDSU’s diversity statement in position announcements.

•     Centralize funding for accessibility accommodations.

•     Require all performance evaluations to recognize and address contributions to an inclusive and respectful environment.

•     Create centrally located reflection and prayer spaces.

•     Convert or construct additional gender neutral and family restrooms.

•     Hire additional Staff and designate Resources to Support Multicultural Students and Programming.

•     Create an Accommodation Specialist position for employees in the Center for Accessibility and Disability Resources.

•     Host events to promote and support an inclusive environment on campus.

In the coming academic year, the PCDIR will continue efforts to specifically address NDSU’s strategic plan for diversity, inclusivity, and respect.

I want to thank every person who has worked with these Council initiatives.  They are doing important work which will make NDSU a better place in the future.

On a different note, please remember that I will be providing an update regarding the results of the legislative session on May 5 in the Anishinaabe Theater from 1:30-2:30.  A Zoom link is available.

Please have a great end of the semester!


David Cook, President


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