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Hanson says NDSU's image can be cleaned up

Press Photo by Beth Wischmeyer Dick Hanson, North Dakota State University's interim president, talks during a meeting with area officials and legislators at the NDSU Dickinson Research Extension Center Tuesday in Dickinson.

North Dakota State University Interim President Dick Hanson wants to clean up NDSU's image.

Hanson, who made a stop in Dickinson Tuesday as part of a multi-city tour, spoke with area officials and a legislator at the NDSU Dickinson Research Extension Center, focusing on concerns and questions they have about NDSU and its future. Hanson announced Monday he has applied to fill the president's seat permanently.

"I think we have some credibility issues, we've had some other things happen," he said.

Hanson had good things to say about NDSU.

"North Dakota State, contrary to the ill-will that has been generated by a few things, is an innovative place, it's an exciting place to be," he said. "What I wanted to do on these tours, as I get around the state this spring, is to let people know, that what you read about -- maybe you read something about a president's house, or one of those sorts of issues -- that isn't the university."

The issue of tuition waivers was also discussed.

Hanson said "the word waiver is a very unfortunate word."

"These are adjustments to the tuition, but very few of them are full waivers," Hanson said. "For example, international students; the revenue the international students bring in, just to North Dakota State, is several hundred thousand dollars, because they pay 125 percent of resident tuition and only 25 of them are full-tuition discounts."

NDSU has about 1,200 international students, Hanson said, and people think $12 million is being wasted, he said.

"Many of the international students are paying students, many of them add tremendous quality to the environment -- it's really amazing," Hanson said.

Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, said he believes in the higher education system, but said that is not true with all legislators.

"There are many that feel that higher ed gets too much," Wardner said. "There are many legislators who do not have an institution of higher learning in their district and they think that we appropriate too much money. They don't see the benefits to the state."

Wardner, the only lawmaker at Tuesday's meeting, said it's important for Hanson to continue contacting legislators, especially those in rural areas.

Hanson is slated to make stops in Minot and Williston Friday, and Wahpeton, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Devils Lake next week.