Northern State University is not only becoming an undergraduate destination for international students, but the campus is expanding international study opportunities abroad.
NSU President James Smith highlighted the international population of nearly 250 students during his convocation speech to faculty and staff Tuesday. It was one of many highlights about campus activities covered in his morning visit. In a post-convocation interview, Smith said the international population has been growing since the inception of the Center of Excellence for International Business on campus, which he estimates began in 1994. This year, he said, six new places are represented — Bangladesh, Japan, India, Palestine, the Bahamas and the Czech Republic.
"We are the undergraduate international campus for South Dakota," Smith said, estimating that the international students on campus probably represent about 7 percent of the overall campus population and 10 percent to 11 percent of the on-campus population.
In study abroad opportunities, Smith said 60 students were able to visit places such as Ireland, Wales, England, Italy, China and Canada.
In other topics of interest, Smith touched on fundraising, budget strategies and Friday's unveiling of the campus' new sculpture garden.
The university's big fundraising push is concentrated on securing donations for the renovation of the Johnson Fine Arts Facility. The $12 million project is being funded with $5 million in Higher Education Finance Funds and $7 million in private donations. Originally slated as a $7.5 million project, Smith said, this renovation project jumped to $10 million when the university received a single donation of $5 million. Officials are seeking contributions for the final $2 million of the project, of which less than half has been secured, according to Smith.
The renovation project is slated to begin in May 2014 with completion by August 2015. Smith said the project is a complete renovation that includes new features such as a black box theater and art gallery. The project will require adjustments on campus with the use of temporary spaces, he said.
In other projects, Smith said a proposed $650,000 greenhouse on campus is likely something that will be accomplished through private donations. While the project isn't slated to take place at any specific time, Smith said the university is making a funding request to state legislators in 2014 with the knowledge the state has not historically funded university buildings. As a result, Smith said, private funding likely will be needed to complete this project that is aimed at enhancing the university's biology program.
Budget cuts for NSU have allowed savings to be redirected to enhance existing programs. Those cuts have included elimination of the tennis and golf programs; closing the Discovery Program; freezing spending; extending the campus' technology replacement plan; and delaying the hiring of an associate provost of academic quality.
Smith said by cutting the tennis and golf programs, funding for those programs can be used to enhance the remaining athletic programs. The same can be said about saving that's realized through other budget adjustments. But, the cuts are not a one-time thing. Smith said campus officials will be continuously looking at program enrollments to make sure demand for the programs justifies keeping them on campus.
Friday's sculpture garden unveiling is at 2 p.m. on campus. Smith said the group of sculptures is on loan to the university for the next 10 years. He described the sculptures as unique to the area.
"They're like something you would see in southern Philadelphia," he said.
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