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  • Area higher education institutions overview

  • Area higher education institutions overview

    Area higher education institutions overview

    Get an inside look at some the higher education institutions in our FMWF metro in this article! We're learning more about Rasmussen University, Tri-College, and the Universities of Jamestown and Mary. For updates from the presidents of NDSU, NDSCS, MSUM, M-State and Concordia College, check out our December Eggs & Issues recap.

    Rasmussen University (formerly College)

    • Amy Gibson, Fargo Moorhead Campus Director
    • Current student enrollment: Rasmussen University Fargo/Moorhead: Approximately 770. Rasmussen University: 18,000.

    What is your vision for the future of your institution and what steps are you taking to get there?   
    Effective October 2020, Rasmussen College became Rasmussen University, our institution’s next step toward a vibrant future. It illustrates our unwavering commitment to our students and the innovative educational practices we create to thrive in this time of unprecedented industry-wide change. Rasmussen University will help define a new generation of higher education—one that focuses on competency-based education, technology and transferrable skills. Higher education continues to play a role in measuring and grading knowledge and skill development. Rasmussen University faculty have the additional knowledge and responsibility to assess the soft skills that will distinguish Rasmussen students as workforce-ready. We are dedicated to global enrichment and meeting the evolving needs of our diverse communities through technology-driven education and modern workplace simulations.

    What is your vision for the future of higher education overall?
    We envision a new generation of higher education—one that focuses on competency-based education, technology and transferrable skills and that empowers a diverse community of learners to be to be workforce-ready. We see a nimble, innovative system led by educators who are also top practitioners in their fields. This new generation of higher education is student-centered, technology-driven and will be constantly evolving to meet the needs of our global communities.

    What, if any, local partnerships and collaborations are your institution engaged in?
    Rasmussen University has various alliances and offers a generous corporate discount to area employers. Additionally, in 2019, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly passed a bill, creating a skilled workforce scholarship and student loan repayment program aimed at attracting people into high need and emerging occupations in the state. The result is the ND Career Builders Scholarship & Loan Repayment program that we are proud to participate in (for more information: https://ndus.edu/career-builders/). The program targets the workforce needs of North Dakota with the goal of recruiting and retaining talent in skilled workforce jobs. Rasmussen is always willing to work with an employer or other organization on their specific needs. We welcome you to reach out to us.

    What successes and challenges have you faced in recent years?
    When COVID-19 hit and colleges and universities across the country were shutting down and moving online, Rasmussen University, which includes the Fargo-Moorhead campus, was able to move online quickly and effectively. We were able to pivot in just a few weeks while continuing to provide a great experience for students. Our main goal was and continues to be keeping students on the path to graduation despite the obstacles presented.  Additionally, the timeframe we were scheduled to host our visit by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, just happened to be during the pandemic. Due to our strength in online learning and remote working, we were still able to host our visit and showcase our strengths during a difficult time. HLC shared it was impressed by the visit, and our HLC accreditation was reaffirmed for another ten years.

    What makes your institution unique?
    Rasmussen University has been helping students prepare for successful careers since 1900. The Fargo-Moorhead campus continues this tradition by providing career-focused degrees, quality education at an affordable cost, and continuous support to its students and communities. We are proud to be the #1 educator of registered nurses (RNs) in Minnesota. With more than 50 programs in seven major areas of study, students will gain relevant program skills as well as the transferable skills, or soft skills, that they will need in a career. Many of our programs are available fully online, with additional resources and support on campus, including an award winning student tutor program. Rasmussen is also a national leader in competency-based education. CBE prioritizes students learning over time, giving students greater control to balance work and life with college.

    Tri-College University (TCU)

    • Tim Flakoll, Provost
    • Current enrollment: 35,000 students across five institutions

    How has COVID-19 impacted your institution?
    Our campuses have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19 challenges. However, it also re-emphasized the value of the TCU partnership. Campus leaders held meetings to share challenges and best practices to ensure safety while delivering high quality education. The resulting changes made by faculty and administration in a matter of two weeks this past spring were greater than any changes in higher education in the past 900 years and their adaptability is to be commended.

    This summer, Tri-College University partnered with Xcel Energy and provided Excellence in Innovative and Adaptive Education Awards and grants to five faculty members, one from each partner campus. This provided a showcase for best practices that were shared throughout the region and states.

    What is your vision for the future of your institution and what steps are you taking to get there?
    Tri-College needs to continue to be an organization that pulls together education, business and community leaders to better serve our students, faculty and people. Currently we are in the process of launching a 17,000 sf shared medical simulation center with Sanford Health. Clearly, this is a timely need that will be important forever.

    We are leaders in the Walk into My Future Program that exposes K-5th grade students to the campus experience.

    What is your vision for the future of higher education overall?
    Education is our most vital tool for a strong economy. Higher education will continue to be the passport to a better future for individuals. We must continue to work to be nimble to meet the ever-changing needs of those we serve. There is no community, state or country that has a strong economy, without a strong system of education.  

    North Dakota data from this spring showed that a person who did not graduate from high school was eight times more likely to be unemployed that a person who holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    What local partnerships and collaborations are your institution engaged in?
    By our very mission and nature Tri-College University is the premier higher education partnership in the region. We partner with others on many levels including retention efforts in the Fueling Our Future program. We provide collaborative grants to help launch or improve programs – but to be eligible, the initiative must include multiple partners to qualify. TCU identified the need and helped launch the Cass Clay Community COVID Task Force. We also work to provide linkages between K-12 and higher education so that students can have a more seamless transition into college. 

    What successes and challenges have you faced in recent years?
    Tri-College is celebrating our 50th year this year and each year has its unique challenges. Over the years we have been a platform for launching may programs to benefit students on both sides of the river.

    One of our challenges this year has been working to launch a new shared simulation center with Sanford during the challenging COVID months.

    This past summer, we officially added M State and NDSCS as full partners. That nearly doubled the number of students in the partnership. It will be an ongoing imperative that each of our five campuses are engaged so that they receive the full benefit of the Tri-College partnership.

    What makes your institution unique?
    Tri-College University (TCU) isn't a place — it's the name of the official partnership among the five higher education institutions in Red River Valley region.  TCU is a unique cooperative agreement between Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University, Minnesota State Community and Technical College and North Dakota State College of Science. The partnership has 35,000 full and part time students placing it on par with a Big Ten campus.

    A student enrolled at one of the campuses, can take classes at either of the other schools without paying extra tuition costs, and without going through additional admission procedures. We also share resources to gain efficiencies and improve the quality of education such as the library shuttle service providing access to more than 2 million volumes/journals.

    The diversity of academic programs and campus environments across the five partner campuses ensure that there is a great fit for every individual. That provides the metro area more opportunities for hiring people that have an excellent education and training.

    University of Jamestown

    • Brenda Kaspari, Director of Professional Studies, Asst. Professor of Leadership

    The University of Jamestown, founded in 1883 and based in Jamestown, ND, offers a complete on-campus traditional college experience for students that desire a traditional experience. In addition, the institution offers online and graduate programs to reach out to a wider student market. Both formats are based on small class sizes, personal service and personal helping relationships.  

    In that realm and to meet the current challenges of affordability, access and relevance in higher education, in January 2021 the University will divide into two Colleges: The Undergraduate College serving the traditional undergraduate college students as well as the College of Graduate and Professional Studies which will serve the needs of the adult learner or post traditional students. Programs in this college include the Doctor of Physical Therapy program based in Fargo. In addition, UJ offers online graduate programs in Leadership, Counseling and Education as well as a variety of online undergraduate degree completion programs. Additional graduate and undergraduate programs are currently under development.  

    The student enrollment of the University of Jamestown is currently over 1,200 students, the tuition for the traditional campus student including tuition, fees and room and board is $31,000 per year. All students receive an institutional financial aid package making it a very affordable option for a quality, private, liberal arts education. UJ boasts a placement rate of 99%.
    Although these are very challenging times for all in higher education, UJ has taken every precaution recommended by the CDC and other health entities to continue to provide a safe and quality traditional on campus experience for those students on our campus. For this our students are very grateful.

    The move to a separate College for Graduate and Professional Studies is in response to the adult and post-traditional learner which currently makes up well over half of all enrolled college students. Programs are designed to meet this students group needs in formats that integrate into the working adults’ responsibilities and lifestyles. UJ offers programs designed in conjunction with regional employers to meet the current and future needs of organizations. UJ partners with over 50 of the largest employers in the region to help identify needed programs for organizational growth and sustainability. In addition, UJ offers tuition discounts to our partner employees, making their education affordable.

    University of Mary

    • Monsignor James P. Shea, President
    • Current student enrollment: 3,802 in fall 2020, serving 159 students in the FMWF area.
    • Placement rate: We surveyed our 2019 graduates who received first-time bachelor degrees between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. The total number of graduates who responded to the survey: 250 (74% of graduates).
      • 47 (19%) were continuing their education
      • 184 (80%) were employed
      • 235 (94%) career outcome rate

    How has COVID-19 impacted your institution?
    The University of Mary has taken proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, since concerns of the coronavirus affecting our campus and satellite locations began this spring. Throughout the many changes to campus and our locations, a highly qualified Emergency Response Team prepared our campus for the return of students, faculty and staff by creating a detailed re-opening plan for safety, security and preparedness.

    The University of Mary’s policies and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic are primarily rooted in an ethic of care for our students, while also maintaining the safety of our faculty, staff and of the public we interact with. Through a coordinated risk level system and smart campus protocols, the University of Mary continues to offer in-person classes on campus, with online options for students in quarantine or isolation.

    In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s spread across the United States in the early spring of 2020, the University of Mary successfully taught our students, graduating another class of highly-qualified and competent professionals to better serve the people of North Dakota and beyond. Carrying forward the legacy of our founding Sisters who came to Dakota Territory in 1878, we adapt to meet the challenges before us thriftly and swiftly, not for own sake or for institutional pride, but with a sense of deep gratitude and in order to do what were founded to do: to serve.

    What is your vision for the future of your institution and what steps are you taking to get there?
    Following the example of our founders and sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, we dreamed boldly and stepped out in faith to create Vision 2030, a three-phase campaign: Education for Life.

    Following the close of Phase 1 in January 2019, we were able to announce that we not only met our goal of $96 million but exceeded it by nearly $5 million!

    We plan to continue to pursue excellence in distinction, service, and relationships through the Vision 2030 campaign and expand our growing academic programs, campus, and impact on the state of North Dakota and beyond. All our vision and efforts in the Vision 2030 journey are focused on meeting the needs of our students, preparing them for servant leadership and encouraging them to be lifelong learners with moral courage.

    What is your vision for the future of higher education overall?
    Year-Round Campus is the University of Mary’s innovative answer to the growing problems facing higher education: rising costs, extended time to completion, and growing student loan debt.

    Through this program, the university has taken the traditional eight-semester bachelor’s degree and applied it to a yearly calendar. By doing so, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in 2.6 years and a master’s degree in four. Mary’s Year-Round Campus offers students the same course load as our traditional full-time degree programs. What’s different is that instead of taking summers off, students will continue studies for eight consecutive semesters. Our academic calendar features three full semesters with breaks. Students receive the same education and formation, but in much less time.

    Unlike sleepy summer school offerings at other campuses, YRC offers students a vibrant and flourishing summer term with many of the same amenities and opportunities offered during the fall and spring terms. Moreover, because students shorten their time to completion and enter the workforce more quickly, the financial benefits are staggering: an outside consultant estimates the lifetime financial benefit of over $320,000 for a bachelor’s degree and over $600,000 for a master’s degree through YRC. Another perk of Year-Round Campus is our career-oriented Work Campus offering where students can earn spending money, help pay for student loans and jump-start their career in the process.

    What, if any, local partnerships and collaborations are your institution engaged in?
    The University of Mary is partnered with many local organizations including Bell Bank, Bobcat Doosan, Butler Machinery, Discovery Benefits, Essentia, and Sanford. We are grateful to serve the community through workforce development trainings to help employers, employees, and potential employees along with providing scholarships to employees of our partner organizations for our degree programs. In addition to the occupational therapy program offered in our Fargo Butler Center, we offer evening and online courses in business, nursing, education, and behavioral sciences.

    What, if any, unique ways are you working to ‘re-educate’ or ‘re-train’ individuals?
    The University of Mary Workforce Development program provides customized, comprehensive, and affordable education and training solutions to elevate the skill levels of employees and benefit the entire business with tangible results. In today’s rapidly changing world, continuing education and training to advance knowledge and skills is vital.

    In addition to the Workforce Development program, the University of Mary offers Business Partnerships. When businesses partner with us, we ensure educational options are flexible, affordable, and achievable. Our degree and certificate programs with the University of Mary Online are designed for busy, working adults. By partnering with the university, businesses provide opportunities for employees to earn their degrees and provide a solid foundation for the business. In return, the University of Mary offers scholarships to employees for our professionally focused and values-driven online and evening degree and certificate programs.

    What successes and challenges have you faced in recent years?
    The University of Mary has had many successes in recent years, to include:
    • Roers Hall, a 276-bed residence hall for freshman women
    • An 80,000-square-foot fieldhouse, which includes a 4,250-square-foot Wellness Center
    • A new School of Engineering to serve the workforce needs of a thriving energy-producing region, offering degrees in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering, computer science, and construction management
    • An 80,000-square-foot student center. Lumen Vitae University Center offers 24/7 dining in the Crow’s Nest Campus Restaurant, a coffee shop, spacious study and gathering spaces, student organization offices, a clinic, bank, bookstore, Hall of Fame, Founders Hall, a stunning banquet and conference space, and the Warford Grotto, created from native prairie stone, a lovely place of prayer and contemplation
    • Mountain Measurements, nursing’s national benchmarking service, ranked the University of Mary nursing program #1 in America in 2019. One hundred percent of our graduates passed their NCLEX-RN licensure exam on the first try. And we did it again! One hundred percent of our May 2020 cohort passed on their first try, which is a testament to our quality faculty who teach and mentor our students
    • The addition of Men’s and Women’s Golf to our robust athletic department, now competing in all 18 NCAA DII sports offered in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
    What makes your institution unique?
    Often misunderstood in our day, a university should not merely equip students with skills required for their professional career. Our work is to help our students—whether they are 18 or 42—to live fully, to live well, so that they are not just existing, but really living; not just surviving, but thriving. Our vision is the formation of virtuous leaders engaged in service for life. It’s an endeavor which is very distinct from what most colleges in our day set out to do.

    We offer an education for the whole of life, and that’s the difference.

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