Now in its fourth decade, Dickinson CommUniversity began in 1980 under the leadership of Rev. Pete Hinrichs of St. John Lutheran Church and Ozzie Belsheim, DSU Professor of Music. That year, grants from the North Dakota Humanities Council (NDHC) brought well-known historian Dr. Hiram Drache from Concordia College to campus for the keynote address, and local faculty and community members presented mini-courses on topics of interest to the general public. After a few years, leadership of the program shifted to the Teacher Education Department, primarily falling on the shoulders of Travis Haakedahl until his untimely death in the mid-1990s. Leadership of CommUniversity passed to Dr. Carl Larson and then to Dr. David Solheim, both of DSU’s Department of Language and Literature. Dr. Peter Grimes, of the same department, has coordinated the efforts since 2013.
Dickinson CommUniversity has continued financial cooperation to this day with regular, partial funding from the NDHC and significant donations from local businesses and participants to fund the presentations. CommUniversity also promotes interaction between the “town and gown” as it features instructors and audience participation from both sides of this proverbial dichotomy. CommUniversity is dedicated to lifelong learning and hopes to attract a wide range of participants through its continuing motto of “No homework and no exams.” While humanities courses in history, literature, music, and international culture have formed most of the content, in recent years there have been increased numbers of courses in applied and natural sciences including astronomy, geology, agriculture, genealogy, and computer science. Courses are typically held on weekends in February.
To view course offerings and register for CommUniversity, click here.
CommUniversity is a self-funded activity which often receives a small grant from the NDHC, and support services and facility use from Dickinson State University. For most courses there is a $15 registration fee that helps cover the costs of instruction. In addition CommUniversity receives sponsoring and partnering support ($100 and $250 donations) from many organizations in the Dickinson community. In return for the donation, sponsors and partners receive recognition in brochures and posters distributed in the community. All employees or members of sponsoring and partnering organizations are allowed to attend the CommUniversity courses free of charge. Those wishing to make early donations may send them to Dr. Peter Grimes in DSU’s Department of Language & Literature or to the DSU Business Affairs Office. Please mark any checks or correspondence as being for CommUniversity.
Everett C. Albers Institute and Festival
The Albers Institute at DSU consists of an interdisciplinary group of scholars, teachers, and devotees of the humanities at Dickinson State University. Administered through the Department of Language and Literature, the Albers Institute sponsors an annual humanities festival in the spring semester.
The namesake of the Albers Institute and Humanities Festival is Everett C. Albers. Born in the heart of North Dakota in Oliver County, Albers was a graduate of DSU in 1966 and a humanities professor at DSU from 1969-73. The author of many books and publications about North Dakota, Albers also created the contemporary humanities tent Chautauqua movement and founded the Great Plains Chautauqua Society. Albers was a pioneer in arranging dialogs between academic humanities scholars and the general public and was deeply committed to the idea that the humanities belong to all the people of North Dakota and the nation.
Following Alber’s death, Lillian Crook, then director of DSU’s Stoxen Library Services and Clay Jenkinson, DSU’s Humanities Scholar in Residence, established the Institute and Festival dedicated to the memory and professional values of Albers. DSU has since hosted a festival of humanities to honor his commitment to the humanities, exploring contemporary and enduring topics in the humanities through events such as lectures, films, panel discussions, exhibits, and other presentations.
For further information about the Albers Institute and Humanities Festival, you may browse through the programs from recent years, archived below, or you may contact Dr. Holly McBee, associate professor of English.
Heart River Writers' Circle
Heart Rivers Writers' Circle (Circle) brings to the West River area significant, contemporary writers whose work interests a range of readers on the northern plains. Each writer gives a public reading and meets with students and community members to discuss issues germane to writing. By coordinating such visits, as well as by hosting literary events and discussions, the Circle serves as a resource for those interested in writing as vocation or avocation. The Circle, which supports all community literary activities, is sponsored by Dickinson State University’s Department of Language and Literature, DSU’s Stoxen Library, and the Dickinson Area Public Library.
Language and Literature Conference
The Language and Literature Conference is a program requirement and capstone experience for students earning BA and BS degrees in English, English Education, and Writing. It is also a course requirement for completing ENGL 480 Senior Project and the final means by which students demonstrate they have successfully fulfilled institutional, program and course outcomes. To prepare for the Language and Literature Conference, students work on their projects under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Friends, family members and other visitors are invited to attend the public presentation of that work.