Congratulations and welcome to Thomas Mitzel, the next president of Dickinson State University. Mitzel will become the newest leader in our community when he takes office in January, and a leader he will very much need to be.
Expectations have never been higher for an incoming DSU president. Mitzel will not only be expected to increase enrollment rather quickly, but also help the university establish a new and trustworthy alumni foundation, all while improving community relations.
We, and the rest of the community, want and expect DSU to return to its glory days. But there’s much Mitzel and his new staff must do before that happens.
He should listen to the needs of his faculty and staff, and weed out those who believe the status quo is the only way to go. He must convince the most hardheaded at his school that there are better ways of doing business than by ignoring problems and then wondering why problems linger for years.
Mitzel must reach out to alumni and assure them their contributions to DSU are safe and will be used wisely.
He needs to get DSU recruiters back into high schools in southwest North Dakota,eastern Montana, northwest South Dakota and northeast Wyoming and get local kids back on campus by being aggressive and positive about the university’s future.
He needs to reopen Woods Hall, reestablish multicultural scholarships and bring quality, contributing international students back to campus. While one could argue that’s what got DSU into the mess it’s in, thousands of higher education institutions throughout the country have positive and contributing international student groups. Why can’t DSU?
He must play a role in ensuring DSU gets the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library on its campus, not on an ugly butte by a water tower along a freeway.
He needs to figure out why the DSU athletic department — long a bastion of consistency among its faculty and staff — no longer seem able to keep coaches more than a few years.
Most important, however, is that Mitzel must establish strong management principles and stick to his goals.
Dickinson State will celebrate its centennial in 2018. That’s only three years away and two-and-a-half years from when Mitzel enters the president’s office. He needs to make that year the target date for achieving his goals and meeting the expectations of both the community and DSU employees.
It’s time for DSU to be great again. It’s time for a leader to step up and make that happen.
It’s time for Mitzel to be that leader.