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DSU faculty, staff hold survey forum

Dickinson State University faculty and staff members held an open forum meeting in Klinefelter Hall Thursday afternoon to discuss needed improvements after a quality survey ranked the institution last in campus satisfaction in North Dakota.

DSU hopes to remedy campus staff dissatisfaction with concern-specific committees.

"We're going to have to do some work to assess what the survey said," Vice President of Student Development Hal Haynes said during the meeting. "And find things we can make as recommendations to remedy that which ails us."

Discussion from the assembly cited problems in turnover rates, housing prices and availability in the area, lack of interdepartmental communication, limited advancement of academic programs, international initiative concerns and competition with an economic boom in the area.

The survey is given to university employees across the state every two years to assess the difference between how conditions ideally should be and how employees perceive them. The university collected 119 responses in the fall.

Of the four-year universities, DSU has the largest gap, according to survey results.

"There is definitely a concern," Coordinator of Institutional Research and Planning Scott Staudinger said. "There is a lot of passion out there. We need to address it and move forward as a campus."

The results are broken into eight general categories. DSU showed increased dissatisfaction in every category from 2008 to 2010 according to survey results.

The open format was beneficial because it allows specific insight on the issues, Faculty Senate President Steve Doherty said.

"A forum allows the faculty to express themselves openly and creates a channel for communication," he said after the meeting. "There was some very frank discussion that dealt with the specific aspects of these issues."

Assistant Professor of Economics Fernando Quijano was pleased with the use of open discussion.

"I think we should be more open and more accepting of criticism. This is what it should be about," he said. "We should not be afraid to question what is going on. I think that is what leads to improvement."

Committees will be assembled to help offer recommendations on how to remedy these problems, Haynes said. Three members will be in each committee and each committee will evaluate issues in two of the eight sections assessed by the survey. Recommended improvements will then be sent to the North Dakota State Board of Education.

"The idea is that we have to respond and send recommendation to the office of the president by mid-August at the latest," Haynes said during the meeting. "We have a lot of work to do, but members of the committees will be relying on other members of the community for input."

The all-faculty meeting is held once per semester, but members are encouraged to voice concerns with the Faculty Senate throughout the year, Doherty said.

"We at DSU take the concerns expressed in the campus quality survey very seriously and are working very hard toward addressing deficiencies to create a positive environment to produce a premiere institute and working environment," Staudinger said.