It’s been a busy year in Blue Hawk Country! Before we embark on a new year at the college on the hill, let’s reflect on all the memorable moments that 2023 brought us.

On the academic front, Dickinson State shifted to a four-school system to better serve our students in programs that fit their needs and promote dual mission initiatives within the southwest region of North Dakota. DSU implemented another master’s degree offering in educational leadership, bringing our graduate programs to six options. DSU also rolled out a high-demand fire science program, which works directly with the Dickinson Fire Department.

The Dickinson State University School of Education received a grant from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to help current working paraprofessionals in North Dakota schools obtain their teaching licenses and fill crucial teaching positions across North Dakota. DSU is using the funds to create the Para-to-Teacher Scholarship that gives students fully paid tuition.

Recently, DSU was also approved for an Economic Diversification Research Grant program that will support our annual Celebration of Scholars event. The grant will provide access to the tools students need to complete research, especially in major industries in southwest North Dakota, including healthcare and agriculture. These funds will also result in a conference hosted in April. We hope the community will join us for Leadership Rising, an entrepreneurship-focused event that will inspire the next generation of business owners.

Another key educational highlight was the completion of the Glenice and Dale Hansen Simulation Center. The high-tech center will transform our nursing facilities into a world-class heath care training site that provides future health care professionals with advanced equipment and robotics to provide hands-on training.

The North Dakota Legislature also passed an appropriation for an $18 million renovation of our Agriculture and Technical Education building, including its attached indoor arena. This will provide another state-of-the-art facility for our students.

Our clubs and organizations on campus also had a busy year. With various student sponsored and supported events, including the annual Halloween Boo Hawks and Kids Day on the Farm, students donated their time and energy to give back to the community in areas they are passionate about.

In the spirit of giving back, Dr. Debora Dragseth’s business ethics class raised funds via its 8th annual Red Paperclip Challenge. The Challenge raised a record amount, over $4,000, to fight local childhood hunger through the BackPack Food Program.

In the performing arts, our musicians presented several concerts and recitals and hosted the annual Northern Plans Music Festival. DSU theater produced multiple plays throughout the year and hosted a regional high school one-act play competition. DSU’s art students presented an impressive spring exhibition in the on-campus gallery.

In the sports world, our student-athletes took home several North Star Conference championships. The DSU football team won its ninth consecutive championship, then won a first round road playoff game against Montana Tech.

The women’s track and field team secured their sixth-straight title, after also winning the indoor championship. Individually, Kaitlyn McColly took home the national title in the heptathlon during the NAIA championships. She then represented Team USA at the FISU World University Games in China. 

Another pivotal moment came this fall that perfectly describes what it means to be a Blue Hawk. During the NSAA championships, a diving effort by Caleb Sarsland gave him second place in a photo finish during the conference cross country championship, lifting the Blue Hawks one point over Dakota State for the team title. The women’s cross country team also took home the trophy.

Overall, Blue Hawk teams won the coveted North Star Commissioner’s Cup as the best overall sports program in the conference, for the second time in the past three years. In addition, the Blue Hawk competitive Cheer team finished fourth in the nation for the second straight year.

The Blue Hawk Esports team leveled up this fall and earned a third-place finish during the Collegiate Champions League LAN tournament. This spring, the DSU women’s rodeo team won the Great Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

We also grew Blue Hawk athletics by two teams. This fall, our shooting sports and women’s wrestling teams competed for the first time in school history.

None of this would be possible without the support of our donors, fans, students, and community. Our supporters are matching, and facilitating, our students’ success. On Nov. 14, the DSU Heritage Foundation achieved something the group has never attempted, raising over $100,000 in a single day during their DSU Give Day Campaign.

This event demonstrated the commitment and pride of DSU’s alumni and supporter base. $102,352.99 was raised in 24 hours from 296 donors, 83 of whom had not donated previously. The Foundation has pledged to provide $1.4 million in academic scholarships to DSU students in the upcoming year.

We can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store. Hawks are up!