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President Bresciani optimistic about NDSU's future

Posted on 9/21/2018

NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani presented a positive, upbeat message during his ninth State of the University Address on Sept. 21 in Festival Concert Hall. While acknowledging challenges faced by the university, he said there are many reasons to be optimistic about NDSU's future.

He described higher education as an investment for the state, and NDSU is dedicated to a mission of teaching, research and outreach.

"Education and the creation of new knowledge transforms the lives of our students; fuels our economy; enriches the quality of life in our state; and tackles the challenges of health and happiness for the citizens we serve. If that isn't a mission to believe in, I don't know what is," Bresciani said.

The university's 14th president noted how the institution has experienced dramatic budget reductions in recent years, but NDSU saw the difficulties coming and through careful, inclusive planning kept the effects to a minimum.

"While we have been good soldiers in the challenges our state has faced, we must also make our case more urgently for the value of the higher education investment from our state," Bresciani said. "In the literal financial sense: Every dollar of state money that comes to NDSU is returned to the state seven-fold in terms of our economic impact. And in the quality of life sense: educated citizens contribute more and need less from society."

NDSU draws more than $150 million in research funds from sources outside North Dakota, Bresciani said, and students enjoy a 14.4 percent rate of return on their educational investments.

"Despite a series of very real setbacks and obstacles, we have many reasons for optimism, and perhaps uniquely so in our state," he said, discussing the State Board of Higher Education supporting funding salary increases in the coming biennium, broad discussion about establishing a higher education stabilization fund and the general agreement among legislators to replace Dunbar Hall.

"I want to remind you of the incredible and still growing private support and enthusiasm NDSU enjoys from our alumni, friends, state business leaders and the nation," Bresciani told the audience. "When I arrived at NDSU in 2010, we were enjoying approximately $9 million in annual private giving. Two years ago, we hit a record $52 million in private giving, and this past year we hit almost $60 million. This year is on track to top the last, and that will be the springboard for the largest capital campaign in NDSU and likely state higher education history."

Bresciani highlighted exciting collaborations with Sanford Health and Microsoft. The joint bioinformatics venture with Sanford is a revolutionary approach to integrating genetic medicine into primary care. The Smart Farm work with Microsoft has a goal of using technology to operate a full-sized farm.

He also put a spotlight on NDSU's commitment to emerging teaching techniques and interactive learning by students.

"NDSU is really on the national forefront of adopting active learning pedagogies and using active learning classrooms to teach introductory biology and physics, especially among research universities," Bresciani said. "While other schools have been slower to embrace these new evidence-based teaching methods, we are using them and seeing higher student achievement."

In the coming year, Bresciani expects to respond to industry leaders with more graduates in such areas as engineering, health professions and business.

"Let's not lose sight of the purpose of a university education-to broadly nurture the next generation of citizens, not just be an aggrandized version of a task-focused vocational school," Bresciani said, urging people to remember the mission-driven approach to higher education established by 1862 Morrill Land Grant Act. "It is what built America, in less than a century, into to world power. And it is how we became NDSU."

As a student-focused, land grant, research institution, we serve our citizens. 9/21/2018

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