The Mystic-Marauder Community Commitment

3 mins read

Bismarck State College and The University of Mary Unveil Groundbreaking Transfer Agreement

By Christian Weber, University of Mary Writing and Communications Specialist
Photo Courtesy of Mike McCleary, University of Mary Photographer

Bismarck State College (BSC) and the University of Mary share a common aim. “Bismarck State College will be a leader in polytechnic education, improving lives and building sustainable communities,” reads BSC’s mission statement, recently updated to reflect the school’s focus on statewide workforce preparation. University of Mary’s mission statement opens with a parallel affirmation: “The University of Mary exists to serve the religious, academic, and cultural needs of the people in this region and beyond.”

Both BSC and the University of Mary have the common goal or mission of striving to enrich lives, meet needs, and foster a healthy sense of community by expanding access to educational services, primarily in the southwest North Dakota region, but especially in the Bismarck-Mandan area. The “Mystic-Marauder Community Commitment,” a trailblazing initiative spearheaded by institutional leaders Dr. Doug Jensen and Monsignor James Shea, represents the two schools’ latest and boldest effort toward this united goal and endeavor.

“In recognition of the historic bond between our institutions, our student-first approach to higher education, and our shared goal of serving the Bismarck-Mandan community,” said Jensen, at a January press conference. “This initiative provides a seamless and affordable pathway for BSC alumni to further their education, advance in their careers, and ultimately make a lasting difference in the lives of their neighbors.”

Besides streamlining enrollment for BSC graduates, the University of Mary’s tuition-match agreement promises to boost the metropolitan area’s supply of skilled professionals year by year. According to Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC president Brenda Nagel, such an influx of leaders and innovators would promote prosperity and stimulate development in the Bismarck-Mandan region.

“A seamless and affordable pathway…”

Left to Right: Max the Marauder; University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea; President and CEO of Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC Brenda Nagel; Bismarck State College President Doug Jensen; Merlin the Mystic

“[BSC and the University of Mary] give our business community a priceless gift each spring when they graduate hundreds of well-prepared students. The more that they work together for the betterment of our community in that way, the more every one of us benefits,” Nagel said. “As business leaders, we’re responsible for doing something with that annual gift by not only giving BSC and Mary students excellent jobs but also creating a community where they would want to live and thrive and raise a family.”

To Nagel, the undeniable financial advantages of transferring from BSC to the University of Mary under the Commitment incentivize local students to put down roots in the Bismarck-Mandan community. “This agreement gives our students a really fantastic menu of opportunities. Based on conversations I’ve had with students, I know that there’s a temptation to move somewhere else, either for school or for work after graduation,” Nagel said. “But I think financial responsibility is top of mind for today’s students and their families. And thanks to this new initiative, a lot of these young people—whether they’re from Bismarck-Mandan or elsewhere— can start to see a series of stepping stones: they can get their associate at BSC, make that natural move and finish their education at Mary, and then stay in the community to take advantage of our job opportunities.”

“It’s really a no-brainer,” Nagel added.

University of Mary Mascot Max the Marauder high-fiving Bismarck State College mascot Merlin the Mystic.

“Our Greatest Resource is Our People.”

Monsignor James Shea, president of the University of Mary, shared his own optimism, noting the Commitment’s timeliness and underlining its fundamental purpose.

“The Mystic-Marauder Community Commitment comes at a critical moment for us as a community— Bismarck-Mandan and North Dakota as a whole,” Shea said. “We’re in the business of community-building, and our greatest resource is our people. This innovative pathway commitment honors the important relationship between BSC and the University of Mary, enabling us to serve the Bismarck-Mandan community united together by providing flexible, affordable access to higher education for our local students.”

Shea’s take on the Commitment’s significance offered a clue as to why BSC and the University of Mary remain two of Bismarck-Mandan’s cornerstone institutions. “Sure, we need to attract new people,” Shea said. Pointing to a key prerequisite for stable community growth, Shea added, “More than half of Mary’s students come from beyond North Dakota, and many of them stay. But retaining our young people who already call this area their home is crucial to building a truly vibrant place to live here in Bismarck-Mandan.”

To learn more about the Mystic-Marauder Community Commitment, please visit