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The legacy of the experimental college lives on

Minot State University has faced many challenges and changes since its creation in 1913 as a Normal School. From 1971 to 1975, one of those changes was the formation of the Experimental College. EC left a legacy behind, belonging to the students who participated in it.

Drawn from the promise of progressive education of the 1950s and 1960s, the Experimental College was to be "a comprehensive pre-service program on earth science teaching." The four-year program, funded primarily through a National Science Foundation development grant, pledges to provide wider academic preparation for developing superior earth science teachers. In addition, EC would open its doors to all MSC students as part of its two-year general education experience.

The EC was initially limited to 140 students and 17 faculty. The low student-teacher ratio was identified as helpful in establishing learning environments, making them more direct, intimate and manageable.

"Students admitted to the Experimental College general education program were given much more choice in courses they took than students in Minot State's then very rigid general education program. Many Experimental College courses were one month long, which permitted students to study a greater variety of subjects than would otherwise have been possible. The one-month format also permitted students to spend a month concentrating on a single subject of interest and enabled students and faculty members to design one-month field experiences, which would not have been possible if the students had been enrolled in other courses," said Eric Clausen, earth science professor and program director.

The EC program was designed for students like Steve Fogarty. Fogarty completed the four-year earth science program at EC and went on to take a position at Minotís Jim Hill Middle School, where he still teaches earth science.

David Aas, a student, learner and teacher at the computer center, took his early interest in computer technology and parlayed it into a successful career in information technology.

Beth Stevens took skills that she learned at EC, including personal involvement and responsibility, and used them to open Artmain, a successful Minot business.

"The Experimental College was a community that fit well with my creative and political stance at the time," Stevens remembered. "I was a farm girl, who through a unique experience in a small college, learned to look outside the box."

While the promise of the Experimental College was a grand one, it never fully bloomed. The Experimental College may be only a small footnote in the institutional history of Minot State, but for those who lived, learned, or taught under its auspices, it is a footnote worth remembering.