Mitzel: DSU will be transparent during budgeting process

On May 4, the 11 North Dakota University System institutions of higher learning were given guidance from the governor's office that the 2017-19 biennium budget would be based on a 10 percent reduction from the 2015-17 biennium. The budget, based ...

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Thomas Mitzel

On May 4, the 11 North Dakota University System institutions of higher learning were given guidance from the governor’s office that the 2017-19 biennium budget would be based on a 10 percent reduction from the 2015-17 biennium. The budget, based upon these guidelines, is due to the governor in early August.

In order to achieve this request, we will be working collaboratively with groups across all disciplines on the Dickinson State University campus. As we begin this process, I thought the timing prudent for me to share with you my philosophy of higher education, and how we will approach this project.

We cannot begin to address a significant decrease in our budget such as we are now planning without a thorough review of all divisions that combine to form the DSU community. This process must begin, but it must begin with a focus toward the future, ensuring we continue to give the best student education possible to each and every person who enrolls at DSU.

Although the budget reduction must be faced quickly, it is a bump in the road, and we will not only persevere, but move forward stronger for having undertaken this review and engaged in this planning.

DSU has built great momentum in the past year. We will continue moving forward with plans for enhanced student services, increasing retention, and engaging new students and families. I thank the campus members for all the support they have shown in the past year, and for their willingness to be active participants in all the planning and new projects over this time. I also wish to recognize the wonderful support of the Dickinson community. We are truly moving forward together toward an ever-positive future.


As I have shared previously, every decision we make, every new project we begin and every pathway upon which we trod must be evaluated through the lens of how it enhances our student education. Delivering the best education possible to our students is the foundation of our mission and purpose. We will keep this “lens” within our sights and at the forefront of our decisions.

DSU has experienced budget reductions in the past and its budget is quite lean at present as a result. The DSU family has acted in a prudent and conservative manner throughout the past several years, and these actions have left the university in a relatively strong financial position. This process will not be easy, but it will also not break our spirit or our momentum.

Our process will begin within the team of vice presidents, each reviewing the divisional budgets and how each budget piece fits with the university’s overall mission and purpose. Similar as to how DSU approached the original 4.05 percent budget cut, I will ask each VP to speak with the constituents within that division to gain insight and feedback on areas where savings may be sought along with areas that must remain protected. With this information, the VP team will reconvene to begin the process of implementing and communicating aspects of how we will meet the new budget guidelines.

We will keep this process as transparent as possible using open meetings, video and written communication. Again, I state, these processes are always difficult, but DSU is a strong university surrounded by a wonderfully supportive community and we will continue to move through this project in a positive and future-facing fashion.

DSU contributes strongly to the rich cultural, educational and social vitality of the Dickinson and southwest North Dakota region. Through various arenas such as capital projects, job creation, workforce creation, event attendance (tourism) and student spending within the community, DSU adds substantial value to the region. I would be remiss not to discuss the value of the Dickinson community to the university.

Through avenues such as financial support, attending university events, giving interns and employment opportunities to DSU students and graduates, and working on projects in collaboration with DSU, we are continually grateful for the broad support and strong benefits the Dickinson region gives to the “College on the Hill.”

Together we will move forward more strongly and positively than either of us can alone! I look forward to working with the community both on campus, and off campus, to make sure our forward progress continues for the betterment of our students and the coming generations.

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