Velmer S. Burton, Jr., Crookston's new chancellor
Burton hopes to bring growth to the fertile Crookston campus
by Rick Moore
From M, winter 2004
The University of Minnesota, Crookston, is going to be bigger and better within five years if Velmer S. Burton, Jr., has anything to say about it. And as the new chancellor of UMC, he most certainly will. Burton has visions of a more comprehensive UMC, and he feels that increasing the number of academic programs is the best way to do that. He knows what he's talking about. During his recent, three-year tenure as dean of the graduate school at North Dakota State University in nearby Fargo, he developed 19 new doctoral programs. His vision for UMC is no less ambitious. M: How would you like to see UMC grow in the next few years? VB: UMC is continuing the transformation it began 10 years ago when it moved to a four-year, baccalaureate structure. We now have 18 degree programs on campus and are developing eight more academic programs. We're looking to add niche programs--[like emergency management and criminal forensic science]--that will attract students and make us more comprehensive and well-rounded. We're developing programs that fit within the polytechnic mission of UMC, but also help the people and communities in this part of the state, and some of the industry as well. M: What about enrollment? VB: For the last several years, Crookston has experienced enrollment dips and declines. This is the first fall in the past three or four years that we've actually turned the corner and staved off that slump, and we had about a two percent increase in enrollment in our degree-seeking students. We're looking to add 500-600 students over the next five years in order to have a full-time enrollment of about 1,800. M: What does UMC mean to northwest Minnesota? VB: We're looking to become the strength institution in this part of the state. There are rivals and there are competitor schools in our region, but I will say this: no other school has a Big Ten brand name other than the University of Minnesota. The people here are fortunate to have a prestigious institution right here in our backyard. You can go anywhere in North Dakota or the region, but you don't get a Big Ten degree. M: How do you like being at Crookston? VB: The job has been a pleasant surprise. People are eager here. There's energy and vibrancy in the academic community. We see ourselves collectively as an institution pulling together to get to this next level and become more of a comprehensive school. And that's what's exciting about working at a campus like this--pulling together and creating things.