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1990s:  Transitions

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90s commencement
The 90s were a decade of record enrollments, record numbers of diplomas awarded -- and major changes in the way Minnesota colleges operated, were administered, and funded.



MNscu advocate cartoon
Proposals to merge the state universities, state junior colleges and tech schools into one "super-system" prompts speculation about the future at MSU -- Advocate cartoon, September 1991.




NW merger
In 1992, the State government began serious planning for merging the state universities, junior colleges and tech schools into a "super-system" with coordination from the Twin Cities.  It was the first step toward the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MNSCU).  (Click on cover above for the executive summary of this 1992 report).



house burned
Moorhead firemen prepare to burn down a house -- several nearby homes were purchased in the early 1990s, and demolished to expand the MSU campus.




liberal arts cover 1990
Liberal Arts requirements, the core of a college education, underwent several revisions as the job market and social priorities changed in the turbulent 90s.  (Click cover to examine the liberal arts requirements at the beginning of the 90s).



david grapes
David Grapes spent four years as theater director, building on the legacy of Delmar Hansen.  He left MSU in 1994 for a larger theater program in Utah, admitting that he was drawn to having "complete administrative and budget control" of the new program -- "and the weather in Utah is gorgeous."




dragon color
Click logo above for a summary of
Dragon Sports in the 1990s

In 1994, with the region's population declining, MSU undertook a comprehensive study of its future enrollments. (Click cover above to read the study's enrollment summary).



TIMELINE    (**some linked documents require Adobe software to read)

January, 1990 -- With enrollments exceeding 9000, MSU faces a major parking dilemma.  Plans for a 2-3 level parking garage to be built off 9th Avenue are dropped when permit and construction costs prove too high.  New plans are made for parking lots west of the main campus.

February, 1990 -- The Industrial Studies department introduces a new course in robotics.  While robotics is a field with great potential, the department notes, "it will take many years of effort before a robotic machine could do all that a human can do."

March, 1990 -- Minnesota revises its tuition regulations and a steep increase in tuition for out-of-state students.  "A student from Fargo will pay about $450 more next Fall, and another $450 in 1991-92."  With this change in costs, a drop in enrollment is expected.

April, 1990 -- After considerable effort and lobbying, MSU receives $3.6 million from the Minnesota Legislature to construct a new class building on land west of the central campus.

May, 1990 -- After 32 years as faculty and chair of MSU's Theater Department, Delmar Hansen announces that he will retire at the end of the Spring quarter.  In other news, a record 1250 students graduate at commencement, and  MSU approves a contract to provide cable television for the dormitories in the coming year.

September, 1990 -- Despite weaknesses in the team's defense, the Dragons beat Concordia 35-32 to win the annual Crystal Bowl game.

October, 1990 -- "Centennial House," a remodeled and refurbished home west of the main campus, serves as a "laboratory for Hotel-Motel Services majors; the small restaurant at Centennial House rapidly becomes an attraction for faculty and staff. 

November, 1990 -- Students who will graduate in December face "the worst job market since 1982," according to findings of the MSU Career and Placement Center.  Center director Mel Schmitz cites the high energy prices and Federal budget deficits as major contributors to the paucity of jobs, and advises graduates to "be flexible, willing to relocate, and adaptable to circumstances as you look for work."

December, 1990 -- With a solid core of seniors, MSU women's volleyball wins the District 13 championship.  Seniors Laurna Frankovich and Cheri Pundsack establish six district records for the sport. 

September, 1991 -- With the Soviet bloc of nations breaking up, an Advocate editorial urges the United States to engage in "trade agreements, military reductions and cultural exchanges" with Russia, bringing about a peace which "for decades young people, like ourselves, risked their lives."

October, 1991 -- After winning the District 13 championship in 1990, the MSU Women's volleyball team is off to slow (7-6) start.  New head coach Becky Schultze promises that once she has instilled a "killer instinct" in the young team, "we'll be winning 15-0 games regularly."

November, 1991 -- North Dakota State University opts to drop the quarter system and begin semester classes in 1992.  MSU considers a similar move. "With Concordia and NDSU on quarters we may have to follow suit to preserve the Tri-College benefits," comments Registrar John Tandberg.

December, 1991 -- The MSU production of "Children of a Lesser God," is named as a "Top College Theater Production" by the American College Theater Festival, a signal honor for the cast and director David Grapes. 

January, 1992 -- The Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board, in consultation with other state agencies and college administrators, issues its proposal for the state's "post-secondary education in the future."  The cornerstone of the plan is a new "board created to govern all public two-year institutions and the state universities" (see executive summary from the report).

February, 1992 -- With the Legislature indicating that cuts in the Higher Education budget are "inevitable," MSU looks at options to deal with the student tuition -- each one is now, on the average, $7700 in debt at graduation.

March, 1992 -- The University briefly flirts with the idea of becoming part of the University of Minnesota, but a "University of Minnesota-Moorhead" campus is dropped as unworkable. 

April, 1992 -- Higher tuition raises students fees (about 90 cents per credit) and increases in housing costs are certain for fall.  The University plans to tighten its admissions standards.  This sobering news is only partially offset by a $4 million award from the Legislature to remodel the MSU heating plant and an announcement that the Dragons will be admitted to the NCAA Division II in 1996.

May, 1992 -- The graduating Class of 1992 is smaller than anticipated.  Admissions warns that the enrollment of new freshmen for the coming year is also lower than expected, much of this due to the increased non-resident tuition of over $73 per credit.

September, 1992 -- The higher cost of college is all too evident as classes begin with some 8300 students enrolled for Fall, a drop of more than 500 from the previous year.  Thirty percent of the students admitted in 1991 have not returned for a second year, and the number of students enrolled for ten or fewer credits is growing.

October, 1992 -- U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone visits MSU and speaks to students about his activities in support of higher education.  But budget woes continue, due in part to declining population numbers in western Minnesota, the prime recruiting area for the university.  Budget projections force MSU to delay beginning work on its new "Center for Business Studies."

November, 1992 -- Alexander Kalinovsky, a student from Latvia (which recently gained its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union) reflects on his nation's rebirth in an interview with the Advocate.  When not in classes or studying, Kalinovsky works at the Write Site; his English writing skills "are as good or better than that of most Americans."

December, 1992 -- Terrence MacTaggart, Chancellor of the State Universities system, warns that, with the new MNSCU system soon to become a reality, budget reductions are "all the certain." "Legislators tend to solve budget problems on the backs of students," MacTaggart notes, and predicts that many of the schools will need to both raise tuition and reduce faculty and staff.

January, 1993 -- Katy Wilson becomes Athletic Director at Moorhead State University.  The former coach for women's softball, and director of women's sports since 1990, is the first woman to administrate all of the intercollegiate sports at MSU.

February, 1993 -- Over 500 students and faculty meet at the Memorial Union to draft a petition opposing the Minnesota governor's proposal to raise state university tuition by 24 percent in the coming year.  With tuition having risen nearly 10 percent per year for the past decade, a 24 percent increase would be "unconscionable," says Student Senate President Scott Dauner, "the extra revenue for the state, from such a jump, won't be there, because there won't be enough of us in school to pay for it."

March, 1993 -- MSU's men's wrestling team wins third place at the state's NAIC tournament.  Nine members of the team qualify to compete at the NAIA national meet, while two teammates, Bobby Olson and Joey Andreasen, are candidates for All-American honors.

April, 1993 -- The Advocate publishes its annual April Fool's Issue (The Badvocate) with a front page story on parking:  "Last week MSU's expansion and house-demolishing efforts finally extended to West Fargo in an effort to avoid building a parking garage.  Next year we plan to purchase lots out by East Ten Mall and perhaps in Dilworth."

May, 1993 -- The largest graduating class in Moorhead State's history receive degrees.  The commencement ceremonies occur in the shadow of certain changes as the fall enrollment will clearly be smaller; and Roland Dille, president of the school since 1968, has announced his determination to retire in 1994.

September, 1993 -- Classes begin with a 9 percent drop in enrollment, the largest since 1942.    The school also changes with the announcement that, in Fall 1995, the University will conduct classes in a semester system.  President Dille issues a statement that he "prefers the quarter system because of its opportunities to take a variety of classes," but a two-semester system will work best within the Tri-College system and accepting transfers from other schools.  "We have to change with the times.  (Read the announcement on the semester conversion process).

October, 1993 -- Moorhead city police investigate a rash of thefts on and near campus and some two dozen cars are vandalized in parking lots and on the streets.

November, 1993 -- The University Admissions office announces that, as of Fall 1995,  ACT scores will be required from all applicants seeking admission to study at MSU.

December, 1993 -- The shortfall in revenue due to lower enrollment and higher expenses leads the administration to consider layoffs at the end of the fiscal year.  Up to 60 university faculty and staff could be cut before classes begin in Fall 1994.  The debate over potential cuts will permeate the campus atmosphere for months to come.

January, 1994 -- A national search continues for new president to take the helm after Roland Dille retires in June.  The search "pool" of candidates is now up to ten individuals who may visit the campus for interviews.

February, 1994 -- A campus survey reveals that over 800 MSU students are now "turned on to electric mail."  The University expects that electronic mail (email) may become a useful tool for education, "sometime in the next decade."

March, 1994 -- After an extensive search for a replacement for Roland Dille, the next president of MSU is chosen -- Roland Barden, current Vice-President (since 1989) of Academic Affairs for the university.

April, 1994 -- In an effort to increase revenue, MSU trademarks its Dragon emblems and logos.

May, 1994 -- At May commencement, Roland Dille says farewell to MSU faculty and alumni, closing his 26 years as president.  In a plea for maintenance of the liberal arts basis for higher education, he says that colleges can "survive in the hands of technicians," but "will not flourish there."

September, 1994 -- Classes begin.  A debate over Title IX, which  mandates increased funding for women's sports, leads to reductions in men's sports.  Two sports -- men's tennis and golf -- have been dropped, while women's soccer has been added.

October, 1994 -- Women's volley ball opens its season with 3 consecutive wins; the victories will mount up as the team goes on to win the conference championship.

November, 1994 -- Football Dragons finish their regular season at 7-2-1, closing with a 29-29 tie against Winona State, qualifying for NAIA playoffs.  They lose the opening game, 7-14, against Northern State.  "Our game was just two minutes too long," notes head coach Ralph Micheli.

December, 1994 -- The budget problems facing Minnesota schools for two years come to a head, forcing the new president to replace personnel in Administrative Affairs and announce that the loss of "some positions among faculty and staff" is "almost inevitable."