NEW CHANCELLOR Larry Skogen has already been a steadying presence to the North Dakota University System, and he hasn't even officially taken over yet as interim chancellor. Skogen has been serving as acting interim chancellor; he officially takes over as the interim chancellor on Nov. 1 and will serve until June 2015. Skogen, who has been the president of Bismarck State College, replaces ousted chancellor Hamid Shirvani, who was let go after a disasterous and divisive year in office. But there's no point in dwelling on the past. Skogen is focused on the future of the university system, and he's keenly aware of his first task: restoring trust in the office and the university system as a whole. "Trust through transparency" is Skogen's platform, and the change in leadership styles couldn't have come quickly enough. Already the monthly board of higher education meetings are being streamed live on the Internet, and Skogen stresses the importance of communicating openly with NDUS officials, university presidents, legislators, members of the media and the general public. He's also focused on the Pathways to Student Success concept for the system, looking at what parts of the plan work and which parts need changes. Skogen has a challenging task ahead of him, but he's approaching it with confidence and a steadfast belief that the system overall works, but that changes and updates are necessary.
GETTING YOUNGER Not only is North Dakota's population growing, it's getting younger, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. North Dakota has the largest proportion of 20- to 24-year-olds in the nation, at 9 percent of the population, and the median age dropped from 37 to 36.1 in just two years. A?decade ago, the state's young people were leaving in droves because of the lack of employment opportunities. That trend has changed dramatically with the oil boom and other growing industries. It's a trend we don't expect to change anytime soon.