What makes the rich tradition at NDSU more unique than any other place?
A variety of factors make NDSU unique among its major research university peers. First is the relatively consistent cultural, demographic and economic base of our state; by and large we all share the same backgrounds and values. And more than most states, North Dakota is amazingly similar today relative to its history. Also, because of the state’s modest population relative to most others, we are much closer knit than is common or even practical in larger states; it’s the notion of being just one town with really long streets! And finally, NDSU’s enrollment is only one half to one third that of most of our major research university peers, which results in a much tighter and sincere sense of campus community and shared experiences than is possible at universities of 30,000-50,000 students.
Why is it important to have homecoming back downtown?
We are a tight knit community not just in the sense of campus, but in the sense of the “community in a community” we represent. The strength and vitality of NDSU is in large part reflective of the strength and vitality of the Fargo metro area. In particular that is complimented by the vibrant and growing historic downtown area which has led to Fargo being ranked by many national publications as one of the “best college towns” in the nation. The core of that designation is the historic downtown area which is walking distance from campus.
What has been the reaction from other universities after the football team defeated Kansas State?
Simply put: respect. Our peers have known that we are on an academic trajectory similar to the top 108 private and public universities in the nation and they knew that we have one of the overall “winningest” athletic programs in the NCAA Division-I. But beating the defending Big Twelve champions, on their home field, in front of the second largest crowd in stadium history, on a come from behind basis, with a coast to coast national television audience—legitimized our academic and athletic success in a more broadly visible and undeniable manner than just about anything else could. I was in the Houston airport recently just before the Texas A&M vs. Alabama game; the place was swarming with rabid fans from both teams. But the “NDSU” tag on my bag had one person after another approaching me to talk about how impressed they were, and ask questions about our University!
The football team is providing a lot of exposure for NDSU; how is the university as a whole using it to their advantage?
We are seizing on that as a fantastic mechanism for drawing attention to far more than athletics. Almost a half million people “hit” our various websites and Facebook pages after the win, and we have used that to point them to everything else going on at NDSU…and they are doing just that! They are looking at NDSU and North Dakota more broadly, in both frequency and depth well past what has been our experience in the past. That’s a story about our university and state that is completely unrelated to what currently most puts us in the news: energy extraction. And it completely reframes what people think about NDSU and North Dakota are about.
Anything you want to say to Bison Nation?
This is our day. It’s our day to be a beacon that draws respect, attention, and accolades to our state and the people we serve. It’s our day for people in our state, and even more importantly people outside of our state, to see NDSU as the top-tier research university it has become. It’s our day for people everywhere to see the impact of NDSU and the exciting changes taking place in North Dakota. Bottom line is that it’s our day to completely recalibrate what comes to mind when people hear the words “North Dakota.”