115-year-old building at DCB getting major renovation, expanding its nursing program

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A 115-year-old building will be getting a major facelift in Bottineau.

Old Main at Dakota College at Bottineau has been vacant for the last 15 years. We sat down with the dean to find out what’s in store for this historic building.

“Really is the heart and kind of the foundation of this campus,” said Jerry Migler, dean for DCB.

Migler is talking about Old Main.

Built in 1906, the 115-year-old building was originally a school for forestry.

But as time went on, more programs were offered — and the campus needed to expand.

Fifteen years ago, Old Main was vacated because of its deteriorating interior.

“One of the advantages that we have with Old Main is the envelope of the building the windows roof the outdoors as well belt they knew what they were doing back when they built it in the 1900s,” Migler said.

The college wants to restore this piece of history and expand its successful nursing program.

“Put 16 kids in a room that that small they’re squished and the learning environment isn’t what they’re mimicking that they would get in the ICU or an emergency room,” said Leslie Stevens, foundation director.

Stevens started fundraising for the project in the spring of 2019. Heading into this legislative session, they raised about $620,0000.

She and the dean worked with local legislators to show the need to renovate this building.

They asked for $2 million in funding and received $2.5 million.

“That was a wow. It told us that we were on the right track in terms of and that nursing education was a no-brainer,” Migler said.

There’s about $800,000 left to raise before construction can start.

“We don’t have to tear down any walls. Essentially, what we will do, is just kind of put a new wall on top of this one and that will give us space for electrical, any IT wiring that we need to do,” Migler said.

The classrooms will be modified to be larger lab classrooms, offices and a testing area that simulates a hospital setting.

Construction will take a year and a half to complete.

Migler says since the work is all interior, construction crews can work through the winter.

“With some updating we can put it back so it’s here for another 115 years,” Migler said.

Migler says another goal is to triple enrollment for the nursing program over the next five years.

Across the state and country, the need for more nurses was perhaps more apparent than ever, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The campus dean at the Dakota College at Bottineau says it’s no different in north-central North Dakota.

Migler says he’s a member of an advisory group that includes officials from local hospitals and nursing homes within a 100-mile radius.

They say it’s challenging to retain nurses in small communities because they’re competing with other metro areas that offer traveling nurse compensation.

He hopes that transforming Old Main into a state-of-the-art facility will attract more students to Dakota College at Bottineau and increase the number of nurses in the area.

“If we can have more students in the pipeline, more students will graduate, more nurses will be available. It really is a win not just for Dakota College at Bottineau, but more importantly, for the region,” Migler said.

Migler says finding qualified faculty to teach the nursing program is also challenging at times.

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