Mike Krueger, Fargo, column: Be proud, not ashamed, of NDSU's growth
By Mike Krueger >/b> FARGO -- The news from North Dakota State University over the past six months has not been very positive. Cost overruns on various projects and an audit report that pointed out mistakes in the funding process and execut...
By Mike Krueger >/b>
FARGO -- The news from North Dakota State University over the past six months has not been very positive. Cost overruns on various projects and an audit report that pointed out mistakes in the funding process and execution have given people plenty to talk about.
I've been waiting and watching since President Joe Chapman resigned last fall for someone -- anyone -- to respond to all of the criticism, sniping and frankly cheap shots that have flowed toward NDSU in the months since.
What happened to all of us? Was no politician, business person or anyone else willing to defend the greatest decade of growth and accomplishment in NDSU's history?
Should I be embarrassed that NDSU's enrollment grew from 9,710 to 14,189 in 10 years? I don't think so. Should I be embarrassed that research dollars invested at NDSU (which means North Dakota) grew from $44 million in 1999 to $115.5 million in 2009? I don't think so.
Should I be embarrassed because NDSU made the transition to Division I athletics with barely a hitch and brought national notoriety to NDSU (which means North Dakota)? Should I be embarrassed because NDSU now is recognized as one of the top 100 research universities in the nation?
Should I be embarrassed because NDSU (and North Dakota) now has one of the best business college facilities in the nation? Should I be embarrassed because NDSU has a downtown campus with three premier facilities (Barry Hall, Klai Hall and Renaissance) that bring 3,000 to 4,000 students and staff to downtown Fargo every day, and that this has helped to revitalize downtown Fargo?
Should I be embarrassed that NDSU now has 44 doctoral programs compared to 18 in 1999, and that some already have attained national recognition? Should I be embarrassed because NDSU has greatly expanded crop variety and disease research programs to further help agriculture, North Dakota's number one industry? Should I be embarrassed because the university president now has a decent home that will also serve as a meeting and entertainment facility and that less than one percent of the cost came from appropriated dollars?
Should I be embarrassed because the rapid growth at NDSU has turned the university into an economic powerhouse in this region by creating high-paying jobs and stimulating economic activity?
A resounding "no" to all of the above.
There are some things I think I should be embarrassed about. Some of these accomplishments happened with little support from the state. NDSU's donors are the quiet, unsung heroes responsible for much of our success. In fact, these accomplishments would not have happened without leaders who were willing to step out and garner private support and encourage private and public partnerships.
The Legislature and Board of Higher Education to this day continue to pay NDSU less per student in state funding than any other state college or university. State investment per student at NDSU continues to decline.
It's time we move beyond feeling sorry, angry or embarrassed that NDSU has been so incredibly successful over the past 10 years. The mistakes that were made were insignificant compared to the total accomplishments and contributions made, and -- more important -- those mistakes have been corrected.
The challenge now is to do all we can to foster, not impede, the continued growth and expansion of NDSU and every other institution of higher education in this state. We all win by doing so.
It's easy to talk about making things happen. It is quite another thing to actually make things happen. Many dedicated and hard-working leaders at NDSU made it happen. North Dakota should work hard to find, retain and cherish leaders with that ability. They are few and far between.
I am a native of North Dakota. I have lived on both sides of the state. I am a graduate of and an ardent supporter of NDSU.
Krueger is president of the NDSU Alumni Association.