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Survey shows gaps at DSU

Dickinson State University staff rated the institution the lowest it has in the last eight years in a quality survey released to The Dickinson Press on Thursday.

However, 70 percent of respondents reported being satisfied or very satisfied.

"All of this information is going to be helpful to us as we make our plans and move into the future," DSU President Dr. Richard McCallum said. "We'll have the opportunity as a university to analyze this information and move forward in a positive way."

Everybody who is paid by the university system took the survey, said Scott Staudinger, coordinator for the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

"Satisfied employees are ... the best to interact with students and provide the best service," said Michel Hillman, North Dakota University System vice chancellor of academic and student affairs. "Certainly employee satisfaction is a goal on our part."

Of all of the four-year North Dakota state universities, DSU has the biggest gap between how employees would like things to be and how they are when it comes to management, customer focus and a number of items, according to the survey.

Questions also covered empowerment and teamwork.

Staff submitted about 40 comments and three of those were positive and praised McCallum and campus leadership. The rest cited concerns.

"On any given day, people can be satisfied with their work or dissatisfied with their work," said Constance Walter, director of university relations. "The university takes comments from its faculty and staff very seriously and will review all of these and will make the required recommendations."

Respondents took the survey anonymously.

Several other comments also aired issues with McCallum and DSU leadership, citing "bullying," "scare tactics," "hostility" and "paranoia."

Some respondents listed concerns over staff turnover. The university did not provide statistics for turnover Thursday afternoon.

"My perception is the numbers are modest," McCallum said when asked how many people had left the university.

Marty Odermann-Gardner left DSU at the end of August after being a staff member for 11 years. She is not surprised by the survey.

"I left because I did not think the direction Dickinson State was going was good for the community or for Dickinson State," Odermann-Gardner said. "And it became difficult working in an environment that was not positive and upbeat."

Odermann-Gardner is the former director of extended campus. She said the tone of the university has changed dramatically in recent years.

"I care so much for Dickinson State and I just think that the leadership is not a good match for Dickinson State right now," she said.

Julie Schepp, NDUS academic affairs associate and director of research, and Hillman would not comment on DSU's results since they said they have not thoroughly reviewed them.

However, Hillman said the State Board of Higher Education will review the results this spring.

Several DSU staff declined comment or were unavailable for comment Thursday.