Tag Archives: Dr. Thomas Mitzel leaving Dickinson State University

What Dr. Thomas Mitzel Started But Wasn’t Allowed To Finish, DSU Becoming A Polytechnic Campus

In my previous blog post, I wrote about Dr. Thomas Mitzel giving his resignation as President of Dickinson State University, and leaving to become President of Kentucky Wesleyan College.

I knew that Dr. Thomas Mitzel would probably leave DSU sooner or later, because the town of Dickinson and North Dakota are difficult for normal people to live in, especially educated people.  It is very cold in North Dakota, and this area of western North Dakota is mostly barren, undeveloped grassland prairie.  The desolate landscape, very cold weather, and attitudes of the people here have helped to keep the entire population of the state of North Dakota below 800,000 people.

Regardless of whether North Dakota is inviting or not, there are several oil and natural gas formations about 6,000 feet underground, that caused an oil boom in the 1950s, late 1970s, and 2007 through 2014.  A couple hundred thousand people came to North Dakota to work in the 2007-2014 oil boom, at jobs that paid higher than average.

All across the U.S., there was the widespread complaint that college graduates with large student loan debt were unable to find employment in their field of study, good paying employment, or even any employment at all.  At this same time, many traditional Liberal Arts colleges were closing due to not being profitable.

Higher education in the U.S. is changing due to several factors.  More colleges and universities are offering online college course work because it is less expensive for many people because they don’t have to relocate to a college town, commute to a college town, or give up their normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to attend classes.

Another factor that is changing higher education is that employers simply want people who are ready and capable to go to work for them.  Traditional four-year college Liberal Arts degrees in majors like English, History, Religion, Philosophy, Art, Political Science and Communications aren’t exactly what many employers are looking for, especially in industries like health care, manufacturing, oil and gas.

Dr. Thomas Mitzel was aware that many traditional Liberal Arts colleges were closing, online college course work was competing with traditional college classrooms, many college graduates with Liberal Arts degrees were unable to find employment, and that industries with high paying jobs like health care, manufacturing, oil and gas wanted applicants with technical training.

In order to save DSU, or perhaps to even cause DSU to grow and thrive, DSU could continue offering four-year Liberal Arts degrees, but at the same time begin offering technical training that was specifically what industries and employers wanted.  Dr. Mitzel had a meeting in Bowman, North Dakota where he explained what he had in mind.  Here are some quotations as reported by the Bowman County Pioneer newspaper in their article https://bowmanextra.com/2018/09/21/dsu-looking-to-become-polytechnic/

“We will always remain a Liberal Arts institution,” Mitzel said. “But becoming a Polytechnic dual mission would allow us also to be able to offer certificates and practical courses.”

Mitzel has had three meetings with a manufacturer strategic group — the last one lasting for five hours….where it was discussed, “What are some of the needs that they have? We really sat down and went over every industry that was there,” Mitzel said. “What was their workforce needs? And we tried to find common ground. We found about eight areas of common ground in education that they need, going over everything from a certificate to a two-year degree.”

Mitzel said the programs are going to be career focused based on what industries want. DSU will be emphasizing real-world applications. Mitzel’s goal is to see 100 percent of the students complete an internship before they graduated.  Mitzel said it doesn’t just help the student prepare to enter the workforce, but it also helps potential employers find suitable employees.

This Bowman County Pioneer newspaper article concluded with some statements about Dr. Mitzel’s continuing discussions with faculty and administrators on the DSU campus, and his expectation of making proposals to the North Dakota board of education in the Spring of 2019.

After this newspaper article was published in September of 2018 announcing that DSU could become a polytechnic campus, I didn’t hear very much more about it.  I thought that this was an incredibly good idea, that would solve a whole bunch of problems at the same time:  increase enrollment at DSU; give DSU a unique mission and roll in North Dakota; attract college applicants from all over the U.S. with its technical training; enable oil field workers to obtain higher level technical jobs; allow local recent high school graduates to obtain training for technical jobs in the oil field; allow local oil companies to participate in the education curriculum; and for DSU to receive additional funding from the oil and gas industry.

When I didn’t see announcements about DSU beginning to offer technical training in oil field technology such as instrumentation, automation, controls, and safety, I believed that the State of North Dakota had squashed Mitzel’s plans.

Just like the Governor of North Dakota helped to steer the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum away from the DSU campus and Dickinson, I believe that other people in North Dakota government did not want Dickinson State University to grow and prosper by becoming successful as a polytechnic school.

My belief is, that the State of North Dakota does not want Dickinson to grow, or DSU to grow, because it does not want state money to go to this area.  I partly understand this, because the people in Dickinson really do act bad in all kinds of ways, very primitive at times.

DSU President Thomas Mitzel Leaving Dickinson, North Dakota

Today I read in the Dickinson Press Newspaper that DSU President Thomas Mitzel is leaving Dickinson to go become President of Kentucky Wesleyan College.

When I saw Dr. Thomas Mitzel’s photo above the newspaper headline, I didn’t even need to read the headline, I knew that his resignation was probably coming.  All kinds of people are abandoning ship in Dickinson, and I don’t blame them.

Dr. Mitzel served as one of the wardens of this Dickinson Prison Work Camp hell for the past four years, and now he is free.  Probably no one is more happy about leaving Dickinson than his wife Rhonda.  At this point, Rhonda’s only shopping options for clothes in Dickinson are WalMart, Tractor Supply, and Runnings Farm & Fleet, because that’s all there is.

Dr. Mitzel came to DSU at a time when it was just beginning to recover from at least four major scandals that weren’t his fault:  DSU was caught awarding degrees to hundreds of foreign students who had not completed their coursework;  DSU Foundation was dissolved by the State Attorney General for financial misdeeds;  DSU Foundation had failed to pay for the construction of Hawks Point on the DSU campus; DSU had failed to pay for the construction of the Biesiot Activities Center.

Dr. Mitzel had begun making very good progress towards improving the status, reputation, and enrollment at DSU.  He was part of the creation of a foundation that was organized to build a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum on the DSU campus.  Dr. Mitzel was also in favor of creating an Associates Degree program in Industrial Technology at DSU that would have educated people in a multi-state area for employment in the oil, natural gas, and other industries.  https://bowmanextra.com/2018/09/21/dsu-looking-to-become-polytechnic/

However, when the Governor of North Dakota stepped in to relocate the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum away from Dickinson, because Dickinson is so primitive, backwards, and dangerous, and there was no state level support forthcoming for the creation of an Associates Degree program in Industrial Technology, the rug was yanked out from under Dr. Mitzel’s feet as far as improving DSU.

When the dead bodies started showing up on the DSU campus and elsewhere Dickinson, it was time for Dr. Mitzel and his wife Rhonda to get out of town, while they still could.

Where Dr. Mitzel and his wife Rhonda are going, Owensboro, Kentucky, the town has a population of 60,000, and the Ownensboro metropolitan area has a population of 120,000.  I looked it up, there are forty clothing stores for Mrs. Mitzel to shop at in Owensboro  https://www.yellowpages.com/owensboro-ky/clothing-stores

The school that Dr. Mitzel will be President of, Kentucky Wesleyan College, it was founded by the Methodist Church in 1858.  Probably the most important thing in this blog post, is to explain what “Wesleyan” means:

For approximately fourteen centuries, the primary representation of the Christian religion was the Catholic Church.  However in the 1500s, a Catholic priest named “Martin Luther” began to reject some of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church as corrupt.  In short, Martin Luther began to believe that people could attain salvation through faith and reading the Bible for themselves, not through the Pope or doing what the Catholic Church said.  This led to the Protestant Reformation, and the creation of the Protestant religions, such as the “Lutherans”.

Similarly, in the 1700s, a Protestant priest named “John Wesley”, started a religious revival movement called Methodism.  This led to the creation of the Methodist Church.  Since the Methodist Church founded the college in Kentucky, it is called Kentucky “Wesleyan” College.

As a college founded by the Methodist Church, the college publicly states in all of its literature that, “We believe in ‘The Wesleyan Way’ of learning and living. The Wesleyan Way is based on four principles we incorporate into every single thing that we do:

  1. We do everything with HONOR.
  2. We SUPPORT EACH OTHER.
  3. We COMPETE WITH INTEGRITY.
  4. We LOVE EACH OTHER.”

For several years in writing this blog, I have tried to explain again and again how different the Catholics in Dickinson are compared to the Methodists in the South.  In Dickinson, the Catholic Church teaches the importance of the Pope, going to Mass, and that fellow Catholics from this area are more important than other people from other areas, to the extent that people in Dickinson think that it is O.K. to take advantage of other people, to be hostile, mean, uncooperative, unhelpful, and unfriendly to others.

In contrast, the Protestant religions in the South teach that everyone is supposed to be helpful and kind to one another, not just in church, but especially in everyday life.

I know that Dr. Mitzel and his wife Rhonda will be going to a much warmer, friendlier, happier, enjoyable life in Kentucky, which they deserve after spending four years in the Dickinson Prison Work Camp.