In my first monthly column, I shared with you how Dickinson State University (DSU) improved the lives of many generations of my family in fulfilling its mission of providing high quality, accessible programs. Now, more than 100 years after the University’s inception in 1918, our staff and faculty continue to be innovative leaders in higher education, expanding access to education for students near and far.

DSU has had a successful academic year, despite dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two consecutive semesters of enrollment growth, with a continued goal of accessibility, have the campus hopeful that in the future it will not just be surviving, but thriving.

In the fall of 2020, I announced two key goals for DSU: increasing accessibility for place-bound students and strengthening the campus’ newly established Dual Mission designation.

After multiple forums and feedback sessions, I announced the decision that DSU will continue offer courses in multiple modalities to achieve these goals. For us, this means that most DSU courses will be available for those who attend face-to-face and those who attend via synchronous remote access.

The decision to offer courses via DSUlive™ aligns with what higher education is experiencing across the country. The decline in traditional-aged students and the increase in other-than-average students seeking to begin or complete a college education is driving the accessibility goal of not only DSU, but the entire North Dakota University System.

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The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the accrediting agency responsible for overseeing Dickinson State University, recently revamped its strategic plan to address the new realities of higher education. Announced at its annual conference this spring, the HLC has adopted the core values of “EVOLVE,” which stands for Equity, Vision, Outcomes, Leadership, Values, and Engagement. With a heavy emphasis on engagement, the HLC has challenged its member institutions to offer high-quality remote programs and instruction.

DSU plans to meet students where they are, offering those who are not able to come to campus the best of both worlds. DSUlive™ provides the opportunity to participate in live classes from a distance, while at the same time enjoying the benefits of interacting with a professor and classmates.

As we continue to innovate and move the University forward, DSU will remain true to its traditional footprint. Students who are able to come to campus will be encouraged to do so. At the same time, we are committed to delivering programs in a quality manner to those who are place-bound.

Dickinson State is committed to putting the right tools, technology, and training in place to deliver quality, relevant programs to all our students, regardless of whether they are attending in person or remotely. In addition to faculty training for multiple modality environments, the University has invested over a million dollars of federal funds into remote access technology, including cameras and monitors in almost all teaching spaces.

To ensure that remote access is expanded, DSU is also paying close attention to other aspects that impact student success, including streamlining its tuition model and keeping tuition rates affordable. DSU has eliminated its distance access fee and has expanded assistance offered through its student success offices.

If you are interested in learning more about Dickinson State University, or applying for admission as either a face-to-face or a remote access student, please visit www.dickinsonstate.edu. For more information about DSUlive™, visit www.dickinsonstate.edu/dsulive.