NDSU budget cuts could end graduate program for emergency management

As many as 24 degree programs could face elimination as North Dakota State University seeks to cut $7.6 million from its budget.

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North Dakota State University's Mascot Legacy Statue.
Steve Elwell / WDAY News

FARGO — With North Dakota State University facing $7.6 million in budget cuts, as many as 24 degree programs face elimination.

One of the programs is the emergency management program that's broken barriers across the country. It's an emerging field of study covering how human beings create, interact, and cope with hazards.

Dr. Samantha Montano is one of the graduates of NDSU's doctoral program, and an assistant professor in emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. She says emergency management includes environmental disasters, but isn't limited to them.

"It also includes terrorism and includes mass shootings and includes oil spills," said Montano. "Cybersecurity is also a huge piece of emergency management."

NDSU's department has studied local disasters like the Casselton, North Dakota, train explosion in 2013, as well as flood events across the state.


NDSU is just one of a handful of universities that offers masters and doctoral programs in emergency management in the country. Now, it faces elimination as NDSU prepares for budget reductions ahead of its 2023-2025 budget biennium.

"To see this program thrown away for what is a relatively small amount of money, compared to the huge impact that it has, and in the future has the potential to have, is really difficult to wrap your mind around," Montano said.

She believes future impacts of climate change make programs like NDSU's a necessity, and is frustrated the relatively small program is on the chopping block.

"You're eliminating this program at the very moment you should actually be investing more into this program, and taking advantage of being a nationally recognized program," she said.

Admissions to NDSU's master and doctoral emergency management program were suspended in 2021. A teach-out of the remaining graduate students is expected to be complete in the spring of 2024.

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