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Community education: Value of an institution providing community education

Located 180 miles from the nearest 4-year institution, Dickinson State University offers formal and informal educational opportunities to meet the needs of western North Dakota.

When we first think of the value a university brings to a community, we often picture a campus comprised of traditional college-age students filling classes and residence halls, partaking in academic and social aspects of university life. These students bring vibrancy to the surrounding area by integrating into the local atmosphere, working in area businesses, participating in internships, or volunteering in the surrounding area. Community members also partake in college events by attending athletic competitions, theatre or music performances, or participating in a campus course or symposia.

The university campus is a gathering place for the entire regional population. Although the influx of students is somewhat transient in nature, with students graduating every four years, our alumni also bring community strength through workforce development and entrepreneurship. Each of these areas is certainly core to the mission and function of Dickinson State University in our region. Built by the ideas, hopes, aspirations, hard work, and donations of the people in western North Dakota, Dickinson Normal was first envisioned as a place for teacher training with the goal of meeting formal education needs. At present, DSU goes beyond the scope of this original mission to serve the area by providing a variety of community programming and continuing education. The annual CommUniversity and Women's Voices events are part of these efforts.

For more than three decades, Dickinson CommUniversity courses have provided a special opportunity to learn more about the world in which we live and the forces that affect our daily lives. DSU faculty and staff provide low or no cost, continuing education events on weekends throughout February. This year, there are six courses ranging in pedagogical areas from the humanities to business.

As we stand on the cusp of a new century of education at Dickinson State University, we are exploring ways to build upon the tradition of CommUniversity by expanding the program to offer courses throughout the year. We will be looking for guidance from our community members and extended Blue Hawk family to help us understand what courses are of most interest and benefit to you and the entire region as we move forward.

A well-rounded education does not take place solely in the classroom or within the confines of a traditional schedule. To be a good steward, Dickinson State University is ever vigilant to bringing salient events to Dickinson in which the entire community may partake. As part of this programming, there are a number of opportunities to celebrate culture and history in the months of February and March.

February is Black History month and March is Women's History month. Movies, lectures, skits, authors, and workshops offer opportunities for meaningful engagement. These events certainly augment the formal education of our students and are intended to be opportunities for residents in our city and region to share experiences while learning from one another and continuing to expand and exercise our academic faculties.

Dickinson State University marks its centennial anniversary in 2018. From that inaugural class of 104 students, taught within the Elks Building in downtown Dickinson in 1918, to the students and community members who benefit from the formal and informal learning opportunities today, the physical campus presence enriches our collective experiences and strengthens the community in which we live. Learning is a lifelong endeavor that is constructed through shared experiences and collaborations. Dickinson State University is honored to be a steward serving the region in ensuring these opportunities are available for all residents.

In the months ahead, we hope you will join us for the events on campus. The university is here for the students and the region. We are always mindful of the responsibility we have to provide opportunities and access to lifelong learning.