When one is fortunate enough to work in education, June provides an opportunity for reflection. We are now about a month from Graduation for the Dickinson State University Class of 2023. Graduation is the ultimate bittersweet event. It is tough to say goodbye to students who have been such a vital part of our Blue Hawk family. But, of course, that is the point. As much as we love to have those all-star Blue Hawks on our campus, a primary purpose of the education we provide them inside and outside the classroom is preparing them for life beyond DSU.

Graduation is also a time to look back at the accomplishments of our students. DSU’s Class of 2023, which endured through both the Covid epidemic and the toughest winter (at least in terms of snowfall) in our city’s history, has much to be proud of. Let’s look at just a few events that made the past academic year such a good one for the college on the hill.

An early highlight was the first in-person Theodore Roosevelt Symposium in three years. It focused on Theodore Roosevelt’s influence on sports in America. Students from the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program introduced the speakers and kept the symposium running smoothly.

The symposium also featured the (re) opening of Lowman Walton Hall, including the Fisher Industries Theodore Roosevelt gallery space on the ground floor, office and workspace for DSU’s Theodore Roosevelt Center on the second floor, and two floors of Pulver Suites, our campus’s premier student housing. If you have not yet had the opportunity to do so (or even if you have), stop by the exhibit featuring Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite photographer, Edwin S Curtis,

This fall also saw another increase in enrollment at DSU, with our headcount going up to 1,473. DSU’s work to make courses available to part-time students, including via remote (i.e., internet) access, is paying dividends. Our enrollment is up over 9% during the pandemic (fall, 2019, to fall, 2022). Nationwide, undergraduate enrollment is down by about the same amount.

Our football team had another strong fall, winning its eighth straight North Star Athletic Association conference title. Dickinson High alum Krew Mathern was a Blue Hawk first team All-American as a defensive lineman.

Spring saw several fine arts events of note, including a wide-ranging student art exhibit, instrumental music recitals, and jazz, band, and choir concerts, as well as the play “Recent Tragic Events,” which featured both fun and mind-blowing plot twists. Blue Hawk singers also traveled to New York City to perform at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center.

Our jazz ensemble was also the first musical group to produce a live recording in Blue Hawk Studios, a state-of-the-art facility in Lowman Walton Hall. The Blue Hawk Studios facilities provide a wonderful opportunity for our students and faculty to record podcasts, audiovisual productions, etc.

Though it was competing for only its third year, the Blue Hawk Cheer team finished fourth in the nation. Brendan Johnson, another product of Dickinson High School, earned first-team All-American honors.

Spring also brought the opening games and the first North Star conference tournament at the Sanford Sprots Complex’s new Bravera Field. The North Star softball coaches were so impressed with this wonderful facility, which was built with the help of Dickinson Public Schools, the City of Dickinson, and Stark County, that they voted to bring the conference tournament back to Dickinson next spring.

Meanwhile, the Blue Hawk women’s track team won both the indoor and outdoor North Star championships. Led by Kaitlyn McColly’s national title in the heptathlon, Kori Nagel’s All-American finishes in both the shot put and the hammer throw, and Wrenzi Wrzesinski’s fourth place finish in the 400-meter hurdles, the Blue Hawk women finished 11th in the country in the NAIA outdoor meet.

The women’s rodeo team won the Great Plains Region, a finish that has eluded us for several years. At the College National Finals Rodeo, Blue Hawk Morgan Foss was in the nation’s top ten, at seventh, in Breakaway Roping.

On the academic front, we welcomed a full cohort of students to our new Welding program in the fall of this academic year. We should be ready to welcome students to our new meat processing and Fire Science (i.e., firefighter) programs in the upcoming fall.

There is a lot of good news at DSU. The students who just graduated were a big part of that news. We will certainly miss them, but we know their successors will have even more accomplishments in upcoming years.

Congratulations, class of 2023. Thanks in large part to you, the Hawks are up!