By Tim Leeds
Dr. Alex Capdeville, chancellor at Montana State University-Northern, said the university needs to be recruiting students to increase enrollment.
Capdeville, who started his two-year term as chancellor on Sept. 18, said students are shopping around for the best university to attend, and MSU-Northern needs to show them why they should come to the Havre institution.
He said MSU-Northern already does a good job with recruitment, but that he has some ideas to try to increase it.
He said one thing that needs to be put on a "fast track" is improving resident life on the campus. Capdeville said giving the student a different style of dormitory to choose from and improving the student center are two issues that need to be addressed.
He said he wants to look into providing a more modern style dormitory, with suites available for the students. Capdeville said it might provide a common living area with private bedrooms for two to six students, with bathrooms shared by two students per suite. The pricing for the suites would be determined by how many students share the suite, and the more traditional dormitories would still be available, he said.
Capdeville said he hasn't had time to research the best way to improve residence hall life, whether to renovate an existing building or build a new one. He said the most likely way to achieve it would be to hire a private business to do the work, then have the university sign a long-term lease with the business.
Capdeville said Montana Tech of the University of Montana in Butte recently renovated dormitories and their student center. He said they have gone from empty rooms to a waiting list to get into the dormitories since they did so.
Capdeville said MSU-Northern is already in the process of building a stronger presence at the Great Falls campus of the university. He said that while the future of MSU-Northern in Havre is crucial, there is also a great need in Great Falls, due to people concerned with access and cost. He said many people in the city want higher education, but can't leave their homes to go to another city for school and can't afford the private University of Great Falls.
Capdeville said he doesn't want to present an adversarial relationship with UGF, and thinks they can work cooperatively. He said MSU-Northern has some unique degrees and he wants to look at providing them in Great Falls at the baccalaureate level. He said there is especially a need to provide an elementary education degree there.
Capdeville said Northern is also working with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education to provide further reciprocity agreements with colleges in Canada. He said he thinks there is a real opportunity to increase enrollment at the institution working with those schools, as well as colleges of technology and tribal colleges in the state.
Capdeville said that with the amount of money invested in the Havre campus, the major presence for the university is still here in Havre. He said he understands many issues facing the area from his past experiences.
Capdeville grew up on a ranch near Opheim, and said he understands many issues facing an agricultural area like the Hi-Line. He is also a Northern Montana College graduate himself, receiving a certificate in automotive technology in 1967. He taught at Havre High School from 1970 to 1974 while working toward and receiving his bachelor's degree from NMC.