DSU President: 'We're in very good shape'

Aug 16, 2017

Dickinson State University President Dr. Thomas Mitzel gives his "State of the University" address.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The president of Dickinson State University had a message for faculty, staff and students.

"We're in good shape," said Dr. Thomas Mitzel. "I think we're in very good shape."

Mitzel gave his “State of the University” address Tuesday. In an interview prior to that speech, Mitzel said there are challenges. One is the recent reduction in state support – which will mean a $4.9 million drop in state funding over the next two years. Mitzel said he’s been talking with faculty and staff on how to make up those dollars.

"Right now, we've made, out of those $4.9 million, about $4.2 million," Mitzel said. "the rest are coming. It could be a combination of revenue and further cuts. But we're looking more at revenue right now."

But Mitzel said one of the issues is that for a number of years, state support continued to rise as DSU lost students. He said DSU used to bring in more money from enrollment than it was getting in state support. But that changed around the year 2011.

"We went from $13 million a year in enrollment revenues, to about $7.2 million,' Mitzel said. "That's unsustainable. We really need to get our enrollment up."

Mitzel said at its peak, DSU had an enrollment of around 2800 students. He said that was too much for the infrastructure. He said 2000 would be a good number to shoot for. Right now, he said the enrollment is around 1500.

"We currently have a 10 to 1 student-faculty ratio, which is excellent," Mitzel said. "Students could pay $50,000 to $60,000 a year to get that."

Mitzel said that will creep up as more students attend DSU.

"But it will not detract from education," Mitzel said. "And it will not tax the faculty and staff. We have capacity, and what we need to do is fill our capacity."

And Mitzel said it will take some work, but he’s very optimistic DSU will get to 2000 students.