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Bismarck State College

By | Last Modified: November 6, 2017
Bismarck State College – Jack Science Center

Bismarck State College (BSC), formerly known as Bismarck Junior College (BJC), is a public community college operating within the North Dakota University System located in northwest Bismarck. BSC is the third-largest school within the state university system, serving nearly 4,000 students.

While BSC mainly offers certificate, diploma, and two-year degrees, the school introduced its first four-year program, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Energy Management, in 2007. Bismarck State College also partners with North Dakota universities to offer higher-level degree programs locally on the BSC campus.

Bismarck State College positions itself both as a career and technical college, offering job-ready degrees, and as a transfer college, where students can obtain their first two years of education towards a higher degree.

History

Voters authorized a junior college in a special election held on June 5, 1939. Bismarck Junior College held its first classes on September 4, 1939 on the third floor of the Bismarck High School building. Only a one-year program was available in its first year, consisting of general education courses. Its initial enrollment included 68* students, with 4** part-time teachers.

The college moved to its own facility in 1955 at 900 Boulevard Avenue, sitting on the grounds of the State Capitol. By 1959, four years later, the college had already outgrown the facility while the increasingly overcrowded state government sought out the building’s space, which prompted the college to again relocate.

Current Campus

Bismarck State College: Schafer Hall

Harold Schafer, a prominent local entrepreneur, donated 70 acres of land on Meadowlark Hill overlooking the Missouri River to house the growing college, where the campus remains today. The first building constructed on the site, Schafer Heights (now Schafer Hall), named in honor of Harold Schafer, was completed in 1961 for $1 million.

BJC to BSC

In 1984, Bismarck Junior College became part of North Dakota’s system of higher education, making it possible to enable partnerships with other state colleges and universities. Prior to this, the college was administered by Bismarck Public Schools.

For a brief time following its entry into the state university system, the school operated as Bismarck State Community College. The 50th Legislative Assembly formerly adopted Bismarck State College as its identity in 1987.

While never formerly accepted, much consideration was given to using the campus as an extension of Grand Forks-based University of North Dakota, where it would have been called University of North Dakota-Bismarck.

Armory

The Armory was completed adjacent to the campus in 1962, one year after the opening of Schafer Hall. The college operated the building jointly with the National Guard until full ownership was transferred to BSC in 1989.

Jack Science Center

In 1998, the Jack Science Center was the first building completed on the campus in nearly twenty years. The 74,340-square foot facility expanded the campus footprint by 30%. At the time of completion, it was touted as the most advanced science center in North Dakota. At opening, the Jack Science Center housed courses for math, science, computer and engineering.

National Center of Excellence

Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence

National Energy Center

Another major building achievement came with the completion of the National Energy Center of Excellence, in 2008. The new 106,200-square foot facility primarily housed energy technology programs, as well as continuing education and training programs.

Recent History

The $9.4 million BSC Aquatic Center was completed in 2010. BSC operates the facility operates jointly with the Bismarck Park Board, who manages the center.

The Career Academy was also completed in 2010.

In 2015, BSC celebrated the construction of three new buildings, the most prominent of which was the 40,000-square foot Communications and Creative Arts Center. The Center replaced the 1968-built library and also houses a learning commons, campus gallery, the Visual Art program, and English classrooms.

Building Timeline

1961 – Schafer Hall

1962 – Armory (Transferred to BSC ownership in 1989)

1965 – Warner Hall

1968 – Library (Demolished in 2015)

1972 – Swensen Hall

1974 – Technical Center

1974 – Student Union

1979 – Mystic Hall

1997 – Bismarck Community Bowl

1998 – Jack Science Center

2001 – Leach Music Center

2007 – Mandan Campus

2008 – National Energy Center of Excellence

2008 – Lidstrom Hall

2010 – BSC Aquatic & Wellness Center, BPS Career Academy

2015 – Communications and Creative Arts Center, Lloyd Ritchie Residence Hall,

2016 – Gate City Bank Residence Hall

Pictures

Logos

Former Bismarck State College logo, used from 1991-2009 Current Bismarck State College logo, unveiled in April 2009

External Links

*Initial enrollment figures are unconfirmed. One source states initial enrollment was 73 students, Bismarck State College’s website lists the initial enrollment was 104, while a Bismarck Tribune article from September 1939 lists 68.

**Bismarck State College’s 75-anniversary special publication listed 12 initial instructors.

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