Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Many highlights at CSC in 2009

December 27, 2009

A few of the biggest highlights at Chadron State College during 2009 can be summed up by the numbers – such as an enrollment increase of more than 100 students, thousands of new trees south of campus and millions of dollars toward a fund-raising campaign.

In October, the Chadron State Foundation kicked off the public portion of its first-ever multi-million-dollar fund-raising campaign, announcing that $8.6 million had been raised for the $11 million project that is scheduled to conclude in 2011.

CSC President Janie Park said the campaign is a vital component in CSC continuing its tradition of excellence.

“The Vision 2011 Campaign will help ensure that our students are welcomed on campus each fall with an open door, and will allow us to open new doors with new opportunities for them in our second century of service,” she said.

The campaign, named Vision 2011, is designed to boost the foundation’s capital, endowments and annual fund. About $4 million of the funds will be used for two capital projects: the construction of the new Rangeland Agriculture Center and Pavilion, and the Events Center. The latter will be created from the renovation and expansion of the Ross Armstrong Physical Education Building.

The Foundation will use $5 million to boost its endowments, to assist with everything from scholarships and equipment to student and faculty support. The remaining $2 million will be raised through the annual fall fund drive and phonathon to provide immediate support to campus.

The Events Center will be a 94,000-square-foot addition to the Armstrong Building, which originally opened in 1964. The project also calls for renovation of the existing portion of the building.

“While that is wonderful progress it is important to understand most of those dollars are in the form of endowments. This is a major boost to our scholarship program, but it does not give us dollars for immediate needs,” said Randy Bauer of Chadron, who is co-chairing the campaign.

Another monumental effort at the college this year was initiated to replenish the forested area south of campus that was devastated by the 2006 wildfire that approached the campus.

Volunteers assisted in the effort to plant 52,200 trees in the area. Led by CSC horticulturist Lucinda Mays, volunteer groups in April hand-planted 12,200 of the seedlings.

The trees, valued at $1 each, were purchased with a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation. District Forester Doak Nickerson helped secure the funding. After being planted this spring, the trees were aided by more frequent rainfall than Chadron residents have witnessed in the previous decade.

While trees south of campus were taking root, so were more students on the CSC campus. CSC reported another increase in enrollment this fall, marking its fourth consecutive year of positive growth.

As of Oct. 15, 2,853 students were taking courses at CSC, a 4 percent increase of 108 students from the same date in 2008. The college also reported a 1 percent increase in full-time equivalency.

Park noted that the number of students taking graduate courses has nearly doubled in the last four years, with about 500 enrolled.  

She noted that while 63 percent of CSC students are from Nebraska, the institution is attracting enrollees from far and wide. The student body represents 40 states and 22 countries, and 90 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

In addition to an increase in students, CSC also had a large increase in animals– in the form of taxidermy.

In October, two semi-truck loads of taxidermy were shipped from the Cabela’s corporate headquarters in Sidney to the college’s Burkhiser Complex. The shipments were a donation from Cabela’s to CSC’s wildlife management program. Included in the shipments were 65 pieces, including full body mounts of many large animals, such as moose, elk, African lion, mountain lion, caribou, grizzly bear, zebra and deer. The animals are being stored in Burkhiser.

Another large donation to CSC came in the form of real estate. CSC took possession of the house at 702 East 10th St. this fall, which was constructed by Chadron State Foundation founder and community philanthropist Vern Chicoine upon his marriage to Madge Fortune in 1998.

Houses had been donated to CSC in the past, but none as significant as the Chicoine home. The property, regarded among Chadron’s finest homes, is valued at $372,330.

“The Chicoines have made Chadron State College and the community a better place, and this is just one more example of their generosity,” Park said. “This house will serve CSC and its presidents long into the future, just like the many other examples of Vern’s service, support and philanthropy on behalf of CSC.”

Park and her husband, Tom, moved into the home in November. The property is handily located at the corner of 10th and Cedar streets, adjacent to the northeast corner of the CSC campus.

CSC students also made headlines during the past year.

A Chadron State College trio topped 14 other teams in a national competition that tests problem solving and communication skills for rangeland ecology and management. The three-person team from CSC won the Society for Range Management's Rangeland Cup at Albuquerque, N.M., in February. The team ended Utah State University's run as the only school to ever win the title.

Another student project that garnered headlines was a project completed by CSC business students for the Dawes County Commission. The group updated and added to a 1990 study that was produced when commissioners were considering paving Slim Buttes Road -- the gravel road connecting Chadron to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The report contains a wealth of economic and maintenance data, and one commissioner estimated that a professional firm would have charged more than $20,000 to complete the study.

Also in 2009, planning for the institution’s centennial celebration kicked into full gear.

At the beginning of the school year, Park announced that the celebration will include 14 months of festivities, beginning at Homecoming 2010 and culminating with December commencement of 2011. Although the festivities won’t begin in earnest until October, the college will begin marking the anniversary in January 2010, the 100-year anniversary of the college’s official founding.

“I feel very fortunate to be at this remarkable college during this historic event,” Park said. “We can develop a greater appreciation during those 14 months of who we are, where we came from, where we are now and where we’re going. It provides us a clear point of reflection on the past and allows us to plan for the future and link that past with the future.”

Also in the fall, classes resumed in Old Admin, formerly known as the Administration Building. The two-year renovation of the building provided upgraded space for CSC’s programs for teacher education, justice studies, English and humanities, social sciences and communication arts.

Among the most noticeable construction projects at CSC during the summer was replacement of the parking lot south of the building.

With the $640,000 project, concrete replaced the variety of surfacing materials that have been patched into the 125-stall lot through the years.

The college also completed a pavement and drainage project along 12th Street adjacent to the football stadium. The new retaining wall was constructed along the field with decorative fencing and street lights.

Other large projects included replacement of the Crites Hall roof and the conversion of two racquetball courts in the Nelson Physical Activity Center to a cardio workout facility.

Also, a new outdoor “classroom,” was constructed on the Child Development Center’s playground. It has a variety of attributes to help children of the day care learn about nature. The facility became the fifth certified Nature Explore Classroom in Nebraska and the 24th in the nation late this summer. Certification is granted by the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.

Dale Grant, CSC vice president for administration, said money for this year’s construction projects derived from sources dedicated to facility projects and not from the general cash fund, which was affected by this year’s budget shortfall.

While the construction projects are most visible improvements to people on campus, some of the largest changes at CSC in 2009 involved transitions of technology. CSC made the switch this fall from the online learning platform eCollege to the open source Sakai. Park said the switch not only gained support from a large majority of faculty members, but also was a large money-saving move for the institution.

Also, the first portion of CSC’s new student information system, NeSIS, went online in September. Students who are applying for fall 2010 are using the new admissions component. The parts that involve the financial aid and registrar’s offices are projected to go live in February and April, respectively. The billing component will start up next summer and the entire system is scheduled to be operating by fall 2010.