BISMARCK - Bismarck State College president Larry Skogen briefed a Senate committee on enrollment figures and proposed 2013-15 capital projects on Monday.
Skogen told members of the Senate Education Committee that BSC’s fall 2012 enrollment was 4,109, a 6.4 percent decrease from 2011. It was the college’s first enrollment decrease since 2005.
“Credit hour production (was) down 6.8 percent, which for us was a $650,000 budget shortfall,” Skogen said.
Skogen said the college dealt with the shortfall by not filling staff positions that had become vacant and through across-the-board budget cuts. He said the decrease in enrollment is understandable given the strong economy statewide.
“When employment is good, it’s tough to attract students,” Skogen said.
Skogen said another trend impacting enrollment is the lack of affordable housing locally. He said building another residence hall on campus may be an option on the table in the future to address the shortage of affordable housing.
He also outlined the major capital improvement project being proposed for BSC. The college is looking to build a new fine arts and learning center on campus to replace its library.
“Our current library is structurally unsound,” Skogen said. BSC received a $108,000 planning grant from the Office of Management and Budget in fall 2011 to conduct a structural engineering review of the facility and design a new building.
The proposed facility would cost $13.3 million. It would include space for the communications and visual arts departments and a learning center. The $13.3 million appropriation is part of Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s executive budget.
Skogen said the conclusion of the structural review of the library was that to build a new facility would be more feasible than trying to fix the current one. He added that the visual arts program is located in a men’s dormitory, not a location that the college would like it to be.
“This new Communications and Creative Arts Center will help us do that (move it),” Skogen said.