FARGO – North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani says he'd like to see the school's enrollment reach 18,000 students in the next five years.

“That number gives us the size to be able to broaden our options, but is not so large that we lose our student focus,” he said to more than 200 students, faculty and staff Thursday morning in his annual state of the university address.

NDSU reported 14,516 students this fall, up from 11,146 in 2002 and 8,780 in 2000.

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Bresciani said an enrollment of 18,000 is one of three targets the university would have to hit to achieve status in the Association of American Universities, an elite organization of 62 research institutions.

NDSU would also have to grow its student scholarship endowment by at least $100 million, he said, and pursue “substantial increases” in endowed chairs and faculty positions.

Bresciani said he expects to accomplish these goals within the next five years.

“Just a few years ago, I would have laughed at that assertion,” he said. “Today, it’s become quite real.”

Bresciani also highlighted upcoming plans to expand student housing, including a new residence hall near the existing high rises, a replacement of University Village and a housing development on the 1600 block of North University Drive.

Campus dining services are already expanding to accommodate this, Bresciani said.

The development in the 1600 block has been a contentious topic for residents of the Roosevelt neighborhood, and Bresciani said Thursday he was committed to balancing student needs with the interests of surrounding communities, “in particular maintaining a positive environment with the Roosevelt neighborhood.”

Most of his address focused on university successes, including the new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) building set to open for classes next spring.

“The facility will have a profound impact on our students,” he said

But Bresciani also said projects like that accentuate the campus’s remaining needs.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue replacement of Dunbar,” he said, referring to a 50-year-old chemistry building that failed to receive funding this past legislative session. The building has closed several times in the past few months for water and electrical system failures.

As Bresciani enters his sixth year leading NDSU, he ended the speech on a positive note.

“I’ve been a part of many campuses, and I can honestly say that NDSU is an exemplar of what a university community should be about,” he said. “In fact, let’s give all of you a hand. You are what makes NDSU special.”