Chancellor has high hopes for DSU
A final tour of the North Dakota University System led retiring chancellor Bill Goetz of the university system to Dickinson on Tuesday.
A former administrator and educator at Dickinson State University who has served as chancellor since 2007 and has a 30-year tenure with the system, Goetz has high hopes for where DSU is headed, especially with President D.C. Coston and the board at the helm.
"Coston is bringing back integrity to campus. It's been a challenge, but he's handled it well," Goetz said. "With the situation at Dickinson State now, their mission is to get the ship back on course."
Coston, who was appointed to the presidency after former DSU President Richard McCallum was fired last year in the wake of an enrollment scandal, also had high praise for Goetz whom he visited with Tuesday.
"Bill had a wonderful career with DSU, where he filled many roles in management and leadership positions," Coston said. "He cares deeply about higher education and he's worked tirelessly to showcase
the system and make the campuses better."
Coston hopes the same for Goetz's successor, Hamid Augustine Shirvani, who will begin July 1.
"Certainly, the state looks to these institutions to help build a bright future and move the state forward, and I hope Hamid Shirvani will bring the talents I know he has to work closely with us to provide the citizens across North Dakota with the promises of a higher education."
Grant Shaft, president of the State Board of Higher Education, said higher education in North Dakota has rocketed to the top because of Goetz's leadership and he expects it to remain that way under Shirvani.
"During (Goetz's) tenure, the system has taken great strides forward and is in the strongest position it has been in my view," Shaft said.
There are still steps for Goetz's successor to take to improve the university system, Shaft said, like create a more established hierarchy throughout the system and address budget issues aggressively to ensure proper funding for higher education from the North Dakota Legislature.
When the Legislature goes back into session next year to work on the state budget, Goetz said he hopes the governor and lawmakers do not play politics.
"Higher education will be debated like it always is," he said. "What the governor will do in higher education, I don't know, but I think he'll be
DSU's renewed focus on repairing its image after the scandal should give the Legislature hope, but Goetz said the scandal could pose an uphill battle for enrollment.
He said DSU could use the state's oil boom to help offset those factors like other schools within the university system have by proposing courses linked to energy-related jobs.
"There will be more permanent employees in the area with families that wish to take advantage of local higher education opportunities," he said. "More people in the labor force will be taking on management positions as the oil development production continues, and more people are likely to remain in the area, making more demand for higher education."
After completion of their degrees, Goetz said 67 percent of students in the university system remain in North Dakota.
"That tells you that if the opportunities are here, the students want to stay," he said. "That number has risen in recent years and it speaks to what we do in higher education."
Goetz will also stay in North Dakota after his retirement, remaining in Bismarck where he will be closer to his children.
Goetz will complete his work North Dakota's university system in two months.
"It's been quite a ride to finish up this year," he said.