Bemidji State receives federal funds for nursing, tech education

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Bemidji State University received a belated holiday gift in late December when it received more than half a million dollars in federal appropriations to support its nursing and engineering technology programs. The funds were part of an appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007, which included nearly $4 million in funds for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU).

That spending bill provides $2.8 million in federal funds for nursing education, renewable energy, engineering technology and child protection programs at eight MnSCU institutions.

From that funding, Bemidji State will receive a total of $584,000 to support its nursing and technology education programs. Of that total, $243,000 will be used to increase the number of baccalaureate-trained nurses entering the workforce in northwestern Minnesota and surrounding areas. The funds will pay for curriculum materials and equipment for skills laboratories. The other $341,000 will help northern Minnesota companies remain competitive by preparing engineering technology graduates for technical manufacturing processes.

“I am pleased with the exceptional support we have received from our congressional delegation,” BSU President Dr. Jon E. Quistgaard said. “I know they have to make difficult decisions based on competing interests, and that makes the outcome even more gratifying. I want to congratulate our faculty and administration who conceived the concepts that led to this result.

“I look forward to visiting with our congressional representatives to express my personal gratitude for their support,” Quistgaard added.

Bemidji State began its initial work to secure federal earmark funding in 2006.

“We began pulling the initiative together at that time and had to put forward academic needs we felt were well-positioned to receive funding,” BSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Joann Fredrickson said. “I can’t say enough about the leadership of the deans and the department chairs in advancing academic priorities through this source of funding, something we had not done before as a University. This was not the work of just a few people — it was a shared effort across campus.

“The timing of the funding could not be better for the University,” Fredrickson added. “It falls in line with a lot of other things that are coming for these two programs. We’re getting money where we need it, when we need it.”

Bemidji State has sought to expand its programs in nursing and applied sciences to meet the University’s goal of responding to the educational needs of the regional, state-wide and national work forces with new program offerings.

• Department of Nursing
The $243,000 in funding for Bemidji State’s nursing program will help support its emerging four-year-track nursing education program. The funds will be used to develop curriculum materials and aide in resource procurement, with specific focus on:

• Adding skills specifically related to the care of American Indian patients and the complexities of rural health strategies
• Developing core knowledge in health promotion, risk reduction, disease prevention, illness and disease management, ethics, and health care systems and policy
• Preparing students to employ cutting-edge technology in the delivery of health care

“This funding is timely and essential to our new lab facilities at Bemidji State,” Gwen Verchota, development director and assistant professor in the Department of Nursing, said.

• Department of Technological Studies
The $341,000 in funding for Bemidji State’s Department of Technological Studies will focus on capital improvements for its engineering technology and industrial technology programs, with targeted goals of:

• Obtaining equipment for the automated manufacturing lab
• Providing funding for annual maintenance and upgrades to the department’s equipment, hardware and software

“The department is grateful to the State’s congressional delegation for its work in securing these funds,” Darren Olson, chair of the Department of Technological Studies, said. “We are excited about the ability these funds will provide for us to deliver state-of-the-art programs.”

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system comprises 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota. The system serves about 240,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 135,000 students in non-credit courses.

For more information about the BSU Department of Nursing, please call (218) 755-3860, or visit it on the Web at For more information about the BSU Department of Technological Studies, please call (218) 755-2950, or visit it on the Web at