Dickinson State University President Thomas Mitzel and the presidential cabinet updated the university’s faculty on the state of the university.

They have created a budget task-force to try to find at least $2 million in savings so the university will not have to use $2 million of its reserve funds to balance the budget.

"They are evaluating every department across campus — academic, non-academic — comparing each of them to the other four-year campuses in North Dakota, as well as some of the out-of-state campuses and institutions that have a similar footprint as does DSU to see if we’re overstaffed, understaffed, where we sit, how we are doing with our resources … and then we want to use that information to help supervisors and cabinet make decisions on restructuring, reductions," Mitzel said.

The goal is for the task-force to report its findings by this December.

Mitzel said the state allocation will begin to go up again next year, but that he wants the university to continue increase its revenue from tuition, as well.

"We are sitting at the lowest allocation we are going to see for awhile ... What we want to do is for this tuition revenue to continue coming up. It’s coming up slowly … Right now, we are receiving too little money from tuition and too much on the state allocation. Once we get this (tuition) number up higher, then we won’t feel the sting of every allocation when it comes along. We’re moving in that direction," he said.

In May, the provost and vice president of academic and student affairs, Carmen Wilson, estimated an increase of 100 students for the 2019-2020 academic year. Marie Moe, vice president of university relations, told faculty that they are now estimating an overall increase of 30 students.

"The new student enrollment is actually up. The returning student number is down," Moe said. "It’s the overall number that will be 30 higher than last year — is what we’re projecting — but that is not an indication of new student enrollment. New student enrollment is about 30% higher as of right now than it was last year … As of August 1st, the returning student number was down 5% compared to last year, whereas the new student number was up."

Mitzel said the university is projecting total enrollment at 1,420 this year.

"It’s not as high as we would have liked, but it is a number that is beginning to go up once again," he said.

Laura Nelson, interim vice president of finance and administration, updated the faculty on projects.

"The Pulver Hall money of $4 million that the Legislation approved, we need to get state board approval on that. That will happen in September. Once we get an approval for that project, we will move forward," she said.

The rodeo arena project is now fully funded by donations, and work started on it yesterday. It is projected to be completed by the end of August.

Nelson also gave an update on DSU's new esports program.

"We have done all the renovations in The Hub and the varsity team room … We have at least 13 returning students that are going to be competing this year. We know of about 10-15 additional students that have expressed interest for the fall. These could be new and returning. The plan is to compete in four different games, and the team sizes could range from 1-6 players," she said.