BILLINGS – Higher education in the Magic City welcomed a new leader for his first day on the job with big goals for MSU Billings and its next generations.
After a nationwide search, trustees chose Dr. Dan Edelman, the former executive vice president of administration and CFO of the University of North Texas at Dallas, who is fitting fast into Montana’s future.
Edelman took a break in speaking with students to talk with Q2 News about about his plans to turn the college into a Montana education destination.
Citing fall 2017 numbers, current enrollment sits just above 4,400 students at both the University Campus and City College. Edleman wants to reach 6,000 within five years.
That long-term goal will come with significant planning and a strengthened partnership with MSUB’s big brother, Montana State University in Bozeman.
“I plan to exploit campus and leverage their resources as much as I can. Dr. Waded Cruzado has been a great partner so far. She has empowered me to do what I need to do for this campus to succeed. She wants us to succeed. All of Bozeman does as well,” Edelman said. “I see a new era coming in where it’s not an us-versus-them mentality that I’ve read about. I see us working close together.”
Edelman and crew will need to wrestle some blunt truths, including a tight budget and a low retention rate.
“I think we have opportunities for improvement. I’d like to see our retention rate much closer to the national average, which is about 80 percent. We’re nowhere near that right now, which means we’re failing. We need to make sure we have the right services for our students at the right time and we make sure they’re able to succeed in the classes that they’re enrolling in. That includes counseling, advising, tutoring, and all kinds of support, including activities,” Edelman said. “So it’s not just Billings students we want to focus on, but we want to focus on all Montana students as well.”
There are a number of strengths the college is building upon, Edelman said, including the high quality instructors employed at the college.
As the new administration begins long-term strategic planning, he says he wants to develop students into workers for the future of Billings. That means collaboration with the business community.
Being a veteran himself, he wants to find ways to help other veterans further their education. Above all, Edelman says students are top priority.
“I want people to know this is a place for success,” he said. “The number one thing that I keep talking about is students come first. At the core of all my decisions is what’s in the best for the students. That’s paramount. That’s the tone I’m going to set from the top for all of our faculty and staff as well.”
Reporting by Dustin Klemann for MTN News