By Thomas Mitzel
In typical Midwest tradition, I went to bed thinking what a beautiful fall season had befallen us, and awakened to weather more conducive to the middle of winter. The change in the season turned my mind toward the time Rhonda and I have spent at Dickinson State University. We arrived in Dickinson almost three-years ago, in mid-December 2015, greeted by single digit temperatures and that caressing North Dakota breeze. The warm embrace we felt from community members within the Dickinson area quickly mitigated any potential weather issues. As I mentioned at that time, it truly felt like we were coming home, and both Rhonda and I feel as strongly about that statement now as we did in 2015. We have learned to embrace, and fully enjoy, the full extent of North Dakota seasons, ranging from 100 degree summers days to -40 degree winter evenings. There is always an event that can be cherished and appreciated, regardless of the temperature on that given day. Indeed, it is a rare occasion that keeps North Dakotans indoors when there is a chance of being outdoors or at a community event.
Community is a core value in Dickinson and at Dickinson State University. I have emphasized to our campus for the past three years that we must work together as a community to ensure that both the city of Dickinson and DSU move forward positively toward a bright future for our students and overall population. I have been amazed at the support and outreach from the community in this regard. From Harvest Festival, to the Centennial Celebrations, to the Route 22 Mural and beyond, the University and city continue to collaborate with each other for the betterment of everyone. In this light, I wish to mention a few projects that are occurring on the DSU campus. These projects will benefit campus as well as the region.
The first project is a proposal for equine areas around the DSU agriculture building. The Dickinson State University outdoor rodeo arena and associated pens were moved south of Dickinson to the Stark County Fairgrounds in 2017, to make room for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. With this change, the equine classes and rodeo program at DSU experienced challenges in accommodating student schedules with an arena several miles away from campus. The DSU rodeo program and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Studies is developing unique alternatives to accommodate our needs. The proposal is to develop a practice arena for: roping and timed event practice for the rodeo team, a riding arena for equitation and colt starting classes, portable tie-stalls for the temporary stalling of horses that get daily activity, and outdoor pens on both asphalt and dirt surfaces for the maintenance of both colts and riding horses.
DSU is collaborating with a committee of local community members to raise funding for this project. We are grateful for the arena located south of the city constructed by Stark County, and we plan to continue using that structure for competitions and large gatherings.
The second project relates to discussion with Odyssey Theatre regarding the possibility of hosting a movie theater site on the campus of DSU until the new 8-plex is completed in downtown Dickinson. The campus theater would help guarantee that the holiday seasons do not pass without some Hollywood entertainment. I want to thank the campus for their feedback on the project and groups at Odyssey Theatre and the North Dakota University System offices for working to explore this opportunity. We will keep you updated on the progress of the theater space as we learn more.
Finally, our new University Store overseers, Follett, are busy readying the Student Center at DSU for their move into a new space. The University Store will move to the front of the Student Center, in the same location of the old Hawk’s Nest. This space will carry a variety of DSU merchandise. It will also support a small convenience store area to help quell the midday hungers and cravings that strike at all of us. This site is designed for the community as well as the campus, and we hope that you will stop by and peruse the store’s offerings. DSU’s new dining facility, the Perch, is located in the basement of the Student Center. The eatery offers 24 hour – 7 day per week service, and carries a large variety of menu items to appeal to a diverse audience. There are also games and computers set up, allowing users to relax, study, or just hang out in the space during their dining experience. This space is also open to the public and we hope you will stop by the Perch and participate in this new dining experience.
It is hard to believe that three years have elapsed since Rhonda’s and my arrival. I cannot thank each of you enough for the support and guidance you have shown to DSU! I look forward with enthusiasm to continuing this relationship and expanding further the opportunities we have to coordinate together for an ever-brighter future.