Continuing to rise

Dickinson State University is singing a new tune after marking its 12th consecutive year of rising fall enrollments. This song is about quality, not only quantity.

Dickinson State University is singing a new tune after marking its 12th consecutive year of rising fall enrollments. This song is about quality, not only quantity.

"I think it's clear that our focus on quality and service excellence is making a difference," DSU President Dr. Lee Vickers said. "It's helping us to attract more students to the area."

Students recognizing DSU's quality helped the university increase by almost 100 students from last year's fall enrollment. Enrollment jumped to 2,670 this fall, up from 2,572 in 2006, as official totals were released Wednesday.

Vickers said the quality is apparent in student testing. He said in psychology, for example, on national normed exit examinations, DSU students scored in the 95th percentile.

In the university's cornerstone program, teacher education, 100 percent of the students passed the principles of teaching and learning Praxis II exam for licensure. For the second Praxis II exam on curriculum, instruction and assessment, 97.4 percent of the students passed.


Vickers said DSU is the only state institution that requires its own exit exams.

"As a result of the data gathered from those examinations, each of the departments, e.g. majors, have made changes in their increase quality and improve learning," Vickers said.

The quality would be nothing, though, if potential students aren't aware of it. For Vickers, the success of retention and recruitment is largely due to the directors of enrollment services, extended campus and multicultural affairs.

"It's everyone's business," Vickers said of the recruitment effort. "It's all of us coming together to make sure that we have a quality of place where students want to attend and feel good about what they're getting."

The recruitment efforts have paid off. There are 1,758 North Dakota students currently enrolled, an increase of 42 from last fall. North Dakota students make up 65.8 percent of the student body.

Students from surrounding states make up 14.5 percent of the student body. While the number of students from Minnesota increased, the number of Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming students all declined from last fall.

For the first time since 2002, however, DSU had an increase in retention. Though the increase is slight, DSU's returning students jumped from 59.7 percent to 60.1 percent this fall.

Nontraditional students


The most significant spikes in DSU's enrollment come from the nontraditional and international students.

With 314 students from 33 different countries, international students make up 11.8 percent of the DSU student body. Vickers said new partnerships with universities in China help Chinese students to represent a majority of the international community on campus.

Vickers said most international students do receive a global awareness scholarship, which means in the end the students pay slightly more than a North Dakota student's tuition.

"Statistics show that on average an international student spends over $15,000 in the community, so if you take the 314 international students times $15,000...that is substantial economic development, in addition to significantly enriching the learning environment," Vickers said.

DSU and North Dakota institutions as a whole have not done a good job of attracting nontraditional students, meaning students 25 and older. However, by working with businesses during the past seven years, Vickers said DSU is trying to reverse that trend.

With the extended campus, Vickers said students now have access to education that was not previously available. With the addition of new programs, DSU's extended campus enrollment spiked to 634 this fall, up from 580 in 2006, a more than 10 percent increase. The number of students enrolled in DSU classes at Bismarck State College also increased to 360, up from 293 last fall.

Staying in the state

Not only are more students coming to Dickinson, more of them are staying in the state after graduation.


More than 99 percent of last year's graduates are either employed or pursuing additional education.

Of that number, Vickers said 97 percent of North Dakota students stayed in the state after graduation. Fifty-four percent of nonresident graduates also took employment in the state.

The percentage of nonresident graduates in the state is down slightly from last year's 59 percent, which Vickers attributes to higher salaries and active recruitment in other states.

Vickers said the number of students remaining in the state after graduation is due in large part to the university's close working relationship with the business sector.

"I also think that it's true because those that are staying in this region are doing so to some extent because we are developing a quality of place," Vickers said. "I think graduates more and more are aware of that."

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