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MITZEL: Innovation and development of new ideas move DSU forward

At the foundation of every project are individuals who saw a need and believed in their ability to collaborate with others to see the need met. Through creativity, hard work and determination, the idea of forming an institution of higher educatio...

2248205+Thomas Mitzel.jpg

At the foundation of every project are individuals who saw a need and believed in their ability to collaborate with others to see the need met. Through creativity, hard work and determination, the idea of forming an institution of higher education in Dickinson had its genesis in 1912 and became a reality when the voters of North Dakota approved a constitutional amendment in November 1916. The innovation and development of new ideas and programs continues to move the university forward today.

Theodore Roosevelt is believed to have said, "Believe you can and you are halfway there." It is an apt statement that one must set the bar high, and then strive with all of his/her might to reach that bar. Of course, there will be pitfalls and setbacks, which is where true learning often occurs, but success comes to those who have the focus and strength to move forward in the face of adversity with an honest attempt to always work for the public good.

Ten years ago, another small group of individuals, inspired by the life of Theodore Roosevelt, conceived of an idea to collaborate with entities from around the United States to advance Roosevelt's legacy. Theodore Roosevelt, a prolific writer, is generally thought to have written more than any other president in the history of the United States. During his 60 years of life, he wrote more than 40 books, wrote approximately 150,000 letters, sent scientific samples to our most venerable museums, set aside approximately 230 million acres of public land, was the first American to win a Nobel Prize, and spoke to almost every pertinent issue that swayed global interactions.

These individuals working at Dickinson State University recognized a need to centralize and make accessible the works of Theodore Roosevelt. Working with very few resources, they believed in their ability to collaborate with others to see the need met, and just like the individuals who came together to see the university built, this group worked diligently to develop networks, partnerships and resources to see the Theodore Roosevelt Center become a reality. Within a short period, the TR Center at Dickinson State University has attracted international acclaim, becoming an important resource for research, education and programming.

The year 2018 marks a milestone for DSU as its centennial year, and marks a milestone for the TR Center as it published its 50,000th item. The collection includes items such as correspondence, diaries, photographs, and video and audio files gathered from national institutions and private collections.

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What is the significance of the work accomplished by the TR Center? Having these documents digitized means that scholars no longer have to spend their time sifting through the collections at the Library of Congress or other institutions, which have so generously worked with the TR Center to allow these documents to be made available in a searchable digital library database. Related documents that are not held in the same physical archive can be viewed in relation to each other in the digital library. Work that may have taken many months and cost thousands of dollars in travel, lodging, and other fees may be accomplished with many fewer expenses, and from the comfort of a personal computer. More time and resources can be devoted to analyzing and thinking and writing and publishing about the documents and what they have to say to us today. New connections may be realized, and a richer meaning behind the life of our 26th president may be discovered. The TR Center has brought Theodore Roosevelt's life, accomplishments, failures, and many activities to the public in a manner never possible before.

There is much work yet to be accomplished. Plans are to complete the bulk of the project in the next 15 years, although new documents are always being discovered and will be added when available.

Innovation and development of new ideas and programs continues to move the University and the TR Center forward. These institutions, which began as a dream, have now made education and information accessible for thousands. This is an exciting and wondrous journey. I hope you join in my enthusiasm, as we look fondly upon what has been accomplished and as we dream together about the future of our institution.

Related Topics: DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY
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