Mitzel: DSU’s budget planning process requires focus

On Wednesday, Gov. Dalrymple called for a special session of the Legislature to discuss pathways to meet the financial obligations of the state of North Dakota. After more than a decade of increasingly strong budgets and revenue increases, North ...

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On Wednesday, Gov. Dalrymple called for a special session of the Legislature to discuss pathways to meet the financial obligations of the state of North Dakota.
After more than a decade of increasingly strong budgets and revenue increases, North Dakota is dealing with a “correction” in state forecasts.
There is a need for everyone to work together to meet the goals of our state. This planning process will reach into the 2017-19 biennium, requiring focus and teamwork to meet the challenge in front of us.
Budget planning
Dickinson State University has received guidance from the governor’s office on how to prepare the university’s budget request for the 17-19 biennium. The guidelines stipulate that DSU request 90 percent of the possible allocation based on the governor’s higher education funding model (based on credit hour production). Per the governor’s instructions, DSU’s appropriated request will be $19.78 million for the 2017-19 biennium (25 percent reduction from the current base appropriated general fund budget). This initial request will be submitted in mid-August. However, this is only the beginning of the process.
As we move forward into the academic year, DSU will request that the Legislature reinstate the “hold harmless clause,” which expires at the end of June 2017. Restatement of the clause would lower DSU’s biennial budget reduction to 13 percent. I have already met with the legislators and state leaders on this subject and will continue to advocate for DSU throughout the year. The legislative session begins in January and much can change between now and the end of the session.
The budget planning will be an incredibly important process for the institution, and will dictate how we are able to maintain our current positive momentum. We need to work together, on campus and in the community, to plan for the future.
We will hold an all campus Budget Planning Summit in September to determine the process we will use to ensure we enter the next biennium ready to meet the educational needs of our current and future students. We welcome input from the community in areas of process, opportunities for savings and best methods of communication.
Community connection
DSU continues to be a partner and resource for the community. The university has been enthusiastically involved in several community events including supporting the return of Arts on the Western Edge and hosting multiple county events on campus during the annual Roughrider Days.
As part of our commitment to strengthening lines of communication, connections, and partnerships between DSU and the Dickinson community, DSU will continue to support and participate in these community and regional events.
For the first time in many years, DSU hosted a float in the Fourth of July parade. I appreciate the positive feedback we have heard from the community. Recent talks were held with community and business leaders to determine how best to strengthen our internship program and reach more strongly into the community.
DSU is actively improving methods of reaching students through recruitment and retention. Enrollment indicators for fall are trending ahead of last year at this same time and we are enthusiastic about the students entering the DSU family. Introduction of new merit scholarships funded through the Heritage Foundation have supported recruitment efforts to attract an academically strong and diverse student body.
We have implemented new retention and advising programs to ensure students entering DSU have the required guidance to be successful. I thank the community for helping fund scholarships, and the faculty and staff for helping implement our new programming. We are also strengthening our academic ties with BSC and WSC, giving more students an opportunity to transfer and earn a degree from DSU.
DSU has great momentum and we are poised for success and growth. Having served this region for nearly 100 years, we will continue to be a cornerstone for the community of Dickinson and the region - providing access to high quality education and supportive student services to equip students to lead and serve.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
The budget situation will be a challenge, not just for DSU, but for the state as a whole, and it is a challenge that we will face head on, as a campus and community, while continuing to provide exceptional learning opportunities to students.
Mitzel is the president of Dickinson State University. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at Mitzel_Pres.

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