BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — North Dakota State University’s president is engaging on a public tour to help take the first step toward a closer relationship with the people of the state.

Dr. Dave Cook was recently appointed president of the university, but with that position comes a lot of responsibility. With how important NDSU’s programs and graduates are in shaping the face of North Dakota, it’s in the school’s best interest to understand the needs of the community in the hopes of better aiding it.

It’s this idea that sent Cook on his current journey. Over the next two weeks, he and a group of NDSU staff will be traveling across North Dakota, making public appearances and meeting with experts and individuals to learn the biggest issues to focus on for the future of NDSU.

“Priority number one right now is to get to know the state,” says Cook, “and to get to know North Dakotans. To listen, and have a better sense of what the priorities of the new president should be. I have a few plans, but before I jump to any of those ideas or initiatives, I want to spend a little time listening.”

NDSU’s new president, Dave Cook. He assured KX News that he does dress like this often.

During his travels across North Dakota, President Cook intends to gather feedback from people all across the state about the problems currently plaguing our economy — as well as things they think the university could be doing to address issues across the state.

Over the ten-day odyssey, he will not only head to public encounters and alumni meetings but also to NDSU Research Extension Centers in Streeter, Dickinson, Hettinger, Carrington, Minot, Williston, and Langdon, as well as the Agronomy Seed Farm in Casselton, to observe the university’s recent progress and development.

The NDSU staff hopes that this tour will allow the new president to see what needs to be focused on, and which of his plans would be the best to put into effect. In particular, Cook mentioned the importance of agricultural research and NDSU’s part in further developing the ag of North Dakota as one major aspect he hopes to work on in the future.

“Obviously, we’re facing some tough budget situations at the moment. I think everyone in the midwest is. We have to think about what direction we need to go, and part of that is aligning where NDSU is going with the needs of the state. I think it’s a real opportunity for positive change. We’ve got some tough times ahead, but some great opportunities, too.”

One of the best ways to see what can be changed in a program, though, is to speak with those who have previously been through it. In this case, who better to speak to about things that can be worked on at the university than its former graduates.

To help figure out the changes that need to come from within, Cook’s team will also be holding public alumni meetings at local hangouts. At these events, NDSU graduates can meet with Cook and his entourage, share their concerns, and mingle with other former students.

One of these events was held in Bismarck on July 11 at Laughing Sun Brewery. Alumni were able to hear a brief statement from Cook, as well as enjoy complimentary pizza courtesy of The Craftcade. Craft beer from Laughing Sun was also available on-site for those who sought to interact with the new president in a more relaxed environment.

So far, Cook claims these meetings have been incredibly beneficial, letting him meet many different people who all have their own interesting perspectives and ideas for what the university can do to help communities across ND.

“The people here have been fantastic,” said Cook. “We appreciate everybody who wants to see the new president, and the university, be successful. I think they see how important NDSU is to the state, whether they were associated with us or not. Everyone’s been very genuine and welcoming. It just makes you think that this is a great place to be, and my wife and I are excited for what lies ahead.”

Additional alumni events are scheduled in the following locations, places, and times:

July 14Watford CityStonehome Brewing Co.6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
July 18WahpetonCorteva Agriscience12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Jult 21Grand ForksCloud 9 Lounge5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

For more information about the North Dakota Tour Event, visit its event page on the NDSU website.