After eight-and-a-half years as marketing director at Valley State University, Doug Anderson is having a hard time leaving the university, as well as the small city he has called home. But a new job as the Director of Media and Communications for the Minnesota State College and University System, based in his hometown of St. Paul, Minn. has him doing just that.
"Valley City is an outstanding place to live and work," he said. "You can become part of it, that's why it's hard to leave."
Anderson came to Valley City in 2004 to be VCSU's first Director of Marketing. As the first to hold the position, he had to figure out what the job really involved. One of his first challenges was establishing the VCSU brand and setting graphic standards so everything the university did for marketing and advertising appeared uniform.
When he got to VCSU, the college didn't have an easily recognizable logo or an established identity. Being part of giving VCSU a conceptional and physical way to describe what it is all about "is the success I'm most proud of," he said.
Other changes that Anderson witnessed at VCSU campus are notable, too. Student enrollment increased more than 40 percent since he arrived, from fewer than 1,000 students to over 1,400. The level of activity on campus, or the "buzz" increased, he said.
Growth in the student body was fueled by new programs at the university, most notably the addition of a health sciences major to prepare students who want to go on to programs such as chiropractic, optometry, and pharmacy; and an IT-CIS program that gives students hands-on experience in enterprise software giving job candidates an upper-hand.
And though it didn't add to campus activity, an online masters degree program for teachers was a huge addition to the university's offerings.
The athletics programs at VCSU also grew during Anderson's years with the addition of cross-country, track and field and golf. Varsity sports are huge at VCSU, he said, with 30-40 percent of students participating in at least one sport.
Before coming to Valley City, Anderson worked for the private sector in the Twin Cities, mostly marketing for start-ups and hi-tech companies. Most of the jobs lasted less than three years, so staying over eight years at one place is a long time, he said.
For those years, however, Anderson really enjoyed working with the faculty, staff and especially the students. He pointed that he got to see eight classes go through.
"One of my favorite days is the day students moved into the dorms." he said. "It was fun to watch them grow."
Living a small city was a pleasure too. Before, no matter where he worked, it seemed like the commute was always an hour, he said. In Valley City, he was within walking distance to his office and everything else was close at hand like groceries, hardware and restaurants.
Now moving back to the Twin Cities and into a bigger organization (the MNSCU system totals 31 colleges and universities) will require another adjustment.