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DSU President Easton decides to forego part of the raise the Board of Higher Education approved for him

When the Board of Higher Education made a decision on raises for the campus presidents, it gave each of them two percent increases.

But Dickinson State University president Steve Easton was given an additional one percent increase, saying Easton is doing “exceptional work,” in developing its dual-mission status.

Easton called the raise a vote of confidence.

"Not in me so much, but in the leadership at Dickinson State," Easton said in an interview. "We've made good progress in the dual mission, and our enrollment is up during the pandemic, which is quite unusual."

But Easton said he is foregoing the added one percent raise.

"I didn't feel it was appropriate, when the rest of the raises were topped out at two percent," Easton said.

Easton also said at DSU, they're watching their dollars very carefully.

"We're in the second year of a tuition and course fee freeze," Easton said.

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott said he wasn’t surprised when Easton decided to give back the extra one percent – and get the same increase as the other presidents. He said Easton’s roots are in North Dakota – especially in western North Dakota – and he’s devoted to DSU.

"That's the type of guy he is," Hagerott said. "He is in it for the state of North Dakota and the people of Dickinson, and his students — not for himself."

Hagerott said Easton is doing “transformative” work at his campus, to make it a “dual mission” University. He said it's in line with what he called a “technical transformation” in North Dakota.

"High-skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, the oil industry — it's complex and high-tech," Hagerott said. "The Legislature rightly is not going to build a bunch of new community colleges in Dickinson and the West."

Easton said his campus is making good progress on becoming dual mission. He said it continues to add vocational programs to meet industry needs.

"We have a welding program up and operating," Easton said. "We're making progress on a 'fire science' program for future firefighters. Our MBA program responds to workforce needs. We have a CNA — certified nursing assistant — program up and running. And we're back in the truck driving business."

Easton said soon, DSU will have a meat processing facility, so it will offer a meat cutting program in about a year. And he said he expects to have diesel mechanics up and running in about a year as well.

"There's more to come," Easton said.

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