October, 2016

Daily News: Future of NDSCS shows drive to take care of its students

October 27, 2016

By Frank Stanko

“Students don’t really care what we know until they know we care,” said Dr. John Richman, president of North Dakota State College of Science during his State of the College address Wednesday.

Throughout Richman’s talk, that idea was continually endorsed. It also drove much of the conversation in a subsequent forum of legislators and community leaders.

According to Barbara Spaeth-Baum, executive director of college relations and marketing at NDSCS, her office can talk about broad marketing plans, but it really comes down to getting the Twin Towns community to understand the value of a student. Richman agreed, also mentioning plans to conduct a focus group with students.

“We ask them all the time, what do you need here?” Richman said. “Now it’s about what do you need in the community.”

Richman acknowledged that the biggest obstacle in attracting students isn’t students themselves, it’s their parents. It’s a lack of awareness toward the career and education benefits that come from two-year colleges.

“If it’s not a four-year college, my child is somehow going to be behind in terms of the workforce,” said Breckenridge Public Schools superintendent Diane Cordes, summing up the opposing viewpoint. “We’re starting to see that pendulum is swinging the other way, when you consider the lessened debt load, the initial salary for two-year graduates who want to enter the workforce. So we need to tell that story bigger and bolder. There’s beliefs based on opinion and then there’s data.”

During his address, Richman summed up NDSCS’ recent list of requests to the state Office of Management and Budget. While NDSCS is not asking for restoration of its full state-allocated budget, it is asking for restoration of full funding to North Dakota’s career and technical education programs. For Richman, career and technical education programs are a major pipeline for future NDSCS students.

“We could (have asked for restoration of NDSCS’s funding),” he said. “What the vice presidents and I talked about … we just don’t see that being realistic and maybe not even affordable for the state to do … That’s the position we’ve chosen and that’s what we’ll roll out. Keep us at 90 percent. Don’t take us to 87, don’t take us to 85. We believe that’s the best position for us to advocate for as we enter into this next session.”

During his address, Richman reiterated why no money was used from the $13.4 million capital improvement project to prevent layoffs. It would have been possible, he said, but the capital improvement money was only going to be provided once. It wouldn’t have fit into long-term, strategic restructuring.

Richman also addressed NDSCS’ hiring of Tony Grindberg as vice president of workforce affairs in the midst of a layoff period. The position, Richman continued, came from restructuring of the dean of college outreach position. A portion of Grindberg’s salary comes from a state grant, but it also comes from workforce affairs’ renewable funding streams, such as selling training and renting out its facilities.

“The spring semester and the summer was a very disruptive time on our campus,” Richman said. “To lose a parking spot or to not have water or power for a time, that’s frustrating. But when you lose an office colleague or you lose a co-worker, it hurts. And it hurts bad. It’s been a disruptive time.”

Reducing its budget did not cause NDSCS to take a step back, Richman told his guests.

“However, it has caused us to stand still,” he continued. “We’re in a process of determining policy, procedures, practices, possibilities. We’re assessing all of those to determine which ones we will keep, which ones will have to be adjusted and which ones we’ll have to eliminate. We’re also in the process of restructuring several leadership positions due to those being eliminated due to the restructure.

“Sometime this spring, we will find our new normal. And when we do, NDSCS will move forward once again. This institution has done it a number of times during its 114 years and it will do it again.”

During his address, Richman alluded to hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who was asked why he did so well. According to Gretzky, it isn’t that he skates to where the puck is, it’s because he skates to where the puck is going.

“Get ready for the next generation,” Richman said.

Read the full article online at

NDSCS honors employee efforts with 2016 LIFE and Steeple awards

October 27, 2016

North Dakota State College of Science honored two groups with the College’s annual LIFE and Steeple awards on October 26, 2016. This year’s LIFE award was presented to the NDSCS Diversity and Equity Council, while the Steeple award was presented to the Faculty Qualifications Task Force.

This year’s LIFE award recognized Diversity and Equity Council Strategic Initiatives. The recipients included Dana Anderson, Mindi Bessler, Cheryl Brown, Sheila Goettle, Michelle Griffin, Jim Johnson, Melissa Johnson, Kerri Kava, Ronda Marman, Jackie Marquardt, Jane Passa, Elizabeth Phares-Oren, Chad Pitts, Sybil Priebe and Mason Rademacher. The LIFE Award stands for “Bringing LIFE to NDSCS” and recognizes collaborative efforts that support the LIFE values of the College. The award is presented to an individual, employee group or committee for developing and implementing an action plan for Strategic Planning or Academic Quality Improvement Project goals.

The Diversity and Equity Council worked collaboratively and administered the first NDSCS Climate Survey. The results of this employee and student survey established the direction and framework for the council to develop a strategic plan, which created a measurable, lasting impact on the NDSCS community over the past year. Specifically, the Diversity and Equity Council implemented a Safe Zone program and training for students and employees, developed Upstander training, enhanced policies and procedures to establish an inclusive college experience, planned and implemented events and materials to focus on awareness and action, encouraged the LGBTQ roommate matching system, and developed a one-stop reporting system to allow an easy way for students and employees to report concerns or issues.

This year’s Steeple award was presented to the Faculty Qualifications Task Force. The recipients included Greg Anderson, Clint Gilbertson, Sandi Gilbertson, Shannon King, Wade King, Ken Kompelien and Jane Krump. The Steeple award stands for “Climbing New Heights” and is presented to an individual, employee group or committee for new and innovative methods to accomplish their role on campus. Criteria for the award include taking a risk, thinking outside the box, just-in-time delivery and how that addresses immediate needs, shared innovation, impact on student learning and development, and documented results.

The Faculty Qualifications Task Force was established to draft policies and procedures for determining NDSCS faculty qualifications. This was in response to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) publishing a clarification of faculty qualifications which had substantial implications for many faculty, especially faculty for Early Entry courses. The task force had a very tight timeline as the College wanted the policy in place prior to the HLC Comprehensive Quality Review visit last spring. Developing the policy and procedures required significant research, review, innovation and collaboration. The task force worked very quickly and had no template. The NDSCS policy was approved on April 14, 2016, and other North Dakota University System institutions are now using this policy as a model when developing their own faculty qualifications policies. The policy and procedures the task force developed will ensure that NDSCS faculty will continue to be world-class and meet the educational needs of NDSCS students.

Daily News: Students immersed in potential careers at Manufacturing Day

October 17, 2016

By Frank Stanko

“I think it’s cool that we get to see all this stuff,” said Andrew Hovde, a senior at Wahpeton High School, about Manufacturing Day. “It helps when you’re in your senior year, figuring out what you want to do in college.”

Hovde, who’s considering a career in welding, was one of nearly 150 Richland County students attending the third annual Manufacturing Day, held Wednesday, Oct. 12 in Wahpeton. Five area businesses and education facilities — North Dakota State College of Science, ComDel Innovation, FlexTM, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative and Bobcat — participated in the event.

“We’re expanding our knowledge base by letting these kids in,” said Tana Erbes, a NDSCS project outreach specialist. “They may not have had this experience before.”

For the 2016 Manufacturing Day, the number of students attending from Wahpeton High School was reduced from the junior and senior classes to just the senior class. Along with that, seniors from Hankinson, Fairmount High School, Richland 44 High School and Wyndmere, Lidgerwood High School attended for the first time this year.

“It’s nice to open some eyes from different schools. They were excited to be a part of it, happy to be included,” Erbes said.

Among the demonstrations and exhibits the students viewed was a can-crusher created by NDSCS’ robotics, automation and mechatronics technology students. Instructor Lonnie Wurst showed students how the crusher reads the label of a Mountain Dew can, weighs it to determine if full or empty and crushes the can before placing it in a bin designated for Mountain Dew cans.

“Manufacturing Day is a great tool to let these individuals learn about manufacturing, how it’s educated and how it’s used out in the industry,” said Joel Johnson, a welding technology program coordinator.

Along with attending, each participating student was eligible for prizes ranging from a City of Wahpeton mug filled with goodies to a grand prize da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D printer. The printer was provided by Minn-Dak. As of press time, its winner had not yet been revealed.

Read the full article online at

NDSCS Electrical Technology Department to Recognize Careers in Energy

October 13, 2016

The North Dakota State College of Science Electrical Technology Department will commemorate Careers in Energy Week October 17-21, 2016.

NDSCS will be hosting industry speakers to inform its students about various aspects of the energy industry, including electrical contracting, industry codes and wind generation.

High school students considering an energy-related career can learn about the NDSCS Electrical Technology program, as well as other programs offered at NDSCS, during Discovery Days on October 20 or 21. Further information about Discovery Days can be found online at

The public is invited to view displays celebrating Careers in Energy Week at the NDSCS Mildred Johnson Library throughout the week of October 17-21.

Careers in Energy Week is part of a nationwide effort to promote awareness of energy careers and future workforce needs. NDSCS is a member of the Dakota Energy Workforce Consortium, a partnership of colleges and electric and gas/electric utilities in North Dakota and South Dakota, which is leading state and local efforts. To learn more about National Careers in Energy Week, visit Learn more about the NDSCS Electrical Technology program at

NDSCS Performing Arts Department to Present Fall Concert October 17

October 11, 2016

The North Dakota State College of Science Concert Choir, Concert Band, Wildcat Singers and Wildcat Jazz Band will hold their annual fall concert on Monday, October 17, 2016 at the Bremer Bank Theatre in the Harry Stern and Ella Stern Cultural Center at 7:30 p.m.

The concert will be the first for incoming instrumental director Adam Hollingsworth. Dr. Hollingsworth comes to NDSCS from his recent adjunct position teaching brass and assisting the Gold Star Marching Band at North Dakota State University.

The Concert Band will perform four selections under the direction of Hollingsworth. The Concert Choir is set to perform four numbers under the direction of Choral Director Bryan Poyzer.

The Fall Concert will feature a piano solo performed by Wayne Doe of Coon Rapids, Minn. The Wildcat Jazz Band and Wildcat Singers will conclude the concert by performing a variety of popular pieces.

The concert is free and open to the public.

Daily News: National prevention month leads specialists to reflect on retention

October 07, 2016

By Frank Stanko

"There’s no problem too big that we can’t work out together,” said Leslie Lemke, Wahpeton High School counselor, about the students she serves.

October is National Dropout Prevention Month, sponsored by the National Dropout Prevention Center. It is a time that challenges America to be better informed on how to prevent students from dropping out of school, according to the center.

Throughout Richland County, high school and college educators, counselors and specialists are using Dropout Prevention Month to review their methods for student retention, reflect on what works and what doesn’t. They hope to encourage support from not only the community, but peers of young people at a crossroads.

It isn’t just high school students who face challenges at school. College-age students are also vulnerable.

“The first three weeks for a first-year student are critical,” said Jane Vangsness Frisch, vice president of North Dakota State College of Science’s Student Affairs Office. “The other time that’s most critical is during the second semester, when first-years are starting to register for fall classes. This often coincides with midterms, when students can feel overwhelmed and wondering if college is really meant for them.”

Likewise, Wahpeton Public Schools indicates a crucial time, during the early years of high school, that the risk of dropping out is greater.

“Once you come to ninth grade, you’re earning class credit and if (a student falls) behind substantially in the first year, it’s an uphill struggle from then on,” said Superintendent Rick Jacobson. “When they have very few credits earned each year, it’s almost impossible for the school to get a student to graduate on time.”

To curb dropping out, schools will provide tutoring and classes designed to make up the lost credits. At the same time, they’re also taking closer looks at the students themselves. What are their expectations? What’s going on at home? Who and what motivates them?

“Not every student is designated for college,” said Superintendent Tim Godfrey, Richland 44 School District. “We want to provide the best tools and resources for post-school life. Not just college, but post-school life. We’ll use the vocational technology center, our guidance counselor, provide opportunities for job shadowing.”

Attendance issues are often a leading factor in a student becoming at risk for dropping out.

“We have a lot of kids every year whose attendance is just not very good. They’re the ones who are at risk for dropping out, or they walk around here like they don’t care. You can only lead them to water so long and then they’ve got to make their own decisions. We can provide all the help and counsel they want, but ultimately they have to make the decision that this means something to them. We will do everything we can within reason to get them to that point to graduate,” Jacobson said.

And even the best laid plans can’t guarantee any one conclusion. Bruce Anderson, principal of Richland 44 High School for the past eight years, recalled a senior student whom he had worked with, who appreciated the effort to get him to graduation, but still decided to drop out with seven weeks left in the school year.

Richland 44 High School, which currently teaches 125 students in grades 7-12, always has 1-2 students in each class who may be at risk for dropping out, Anderson said. One advantage to a small student population is the ease in working one-on-one with struggling students. And there are the untapped possibilities, like utilizing student culture, to prevent dropping out.

“Students don’t always want to hear (about not dropping out) from an adult,” Anderson said. “In the years I’ve been here, when parents reach me, they’re sometimes at their last stop. ‘Whatever you can do, please do it for my son and daughter.’ They’ve put in this great effort, but the student just doesn’t want to listen to mom and dad. If they can hear it from (their peers), maybe it’ll sink in.”

Vangsness Frisch agrees, citing the importance of NDSCS’ message that everyone on campus is there to help a student and get them on the road to success.

“Faculty, staff, fellow students — anyone on campus can refer a student to the Student Success Center,” she said. “The faculty typically will refer a student if they’ve missed class three or more times and we’ll have a specialist who’ll have a conversation with them. Not to wag their finger, but to find out what’s going on. Maybe there was an illness or an emergency, those life things that happen.”

Along with that, NDSCS encourages students to adjust their perceptions, to not look at tutoring or use of the Student Success Center as indications of not doing well, but rather as a proactive approach to continuing to do well. According to Vangsness Frisch, the Student Success Center was contacted 9,000 times by students during the 2015-16 school year.

Barbara Spaeth-Baum, NDSCS’ executive director of college relations and marketing, also pointed out the college’s success with events like the start of school year dances, which she and Vangsness Frisch said have helped students feel connected with their campus and community.

If a student does withdraw from NDSCS, Vangsness Frisch said, the school will continue to reach out to them for a time, letting them know that unless it was a behavioral-related withdrawal, they’re certainly welcome to return.

“When they leave, they’ll sit down with a counselor and discuss the transition,” Vangsness Frisch said. “What it looks like, financially, academically and personally. We make sure that we’re not just sending them out into the wild blue without knowing and understanding some of those factors.”

Read the full article online at

NDSCS to remove 40-year-old coal boiler

October 06, 2016

North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) will soon begin demolishing a coal boiler structure that was taken out of service earlier this year on its Wahpeton campus after a small explosion and fire rendered it unusable.  The 40-year-old coal boiler will be permanently retired and campus energy needs will be met by the three remaining natural gas boilers.

Installed in the mid-1970s, the coal boiler has had minimal use over the past five years and was fired up during the coldest winter months for only 60-70 days annually. Its size is massive, similar to coal boilers on the campuses of the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University, and required retrofitting for the College to use efficiently.

Demolition of the structure will begin in early 2017 and while the majority of the boiler is housed inside the Central Heating Plant, located east of 7th Street; the most noticeable remnant to be removed will be the large, 120-ft. tall steel chimney.  Following demolition, the space formerly occupied by the coal boiler will be repurposed for a yet-to-be-determined campus need.

Energy conservation measures on the Wahpeton Campus have been a priority in recent years and those efforts, including the $8.4 million renovation of Old Main and the installation of energy efficient windows in several residence halls and buildings, have reduced energy demands.
“The three natural gas boilers have more than enough capacity to heat the Campus,” said Dallas Fossum, Executive Director of Facilities Management and the campus lead who will oversee coal boiler demolition.

Justin Neppl selected as State Star Award winner

October 06, 2016

Small Business Development Consultant Justin Neppl has been selected as the 2016 America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) State Star Award winner. Every year, each SBDC network selects a network staff member to receive this national honor based on criteria that includes exemplary performance as a network staff member, significant contribution to the network’s SBDC program and a strong commitment to small business in the state.

Neppl is the Business Advisor for the Wahpeton SBDC, part of the North Dakota Small Business Development Centers network. He is employed by NDSCS, which is a North Dakota SBDC sub-award program host. A small business owner himself, he and his wife, Jamie, own Tiny Tykes Preschool and Daycare, and Wahpeton Youth Club.

Neppl was presented with the State Star Award at the ASBDC Fall Conference in Orlando, Fla.

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