Now in its fourth decade, Dickinson CommUniversity began in 1980 under the leadership of Rev. Pete Hinrichs of St. John Lutheran Church and Ozzie Belsheim, DSU Professor of Music. That year, grants from the North Dakota Humanities Council (NDHC) brought well-known historian Dr. Hiram Drache from Concordia College to campus for the keynote address, and local faculty and community members presented mini-courses on topics of interest to the general public. After a few years, leadership of the program shifted to the Teacher Education Department and was guided by Travis Haakedahl until the mid-1990s. Leadership of CommUniversity passed to Dr. Carl Larson and then to Dr. David Solheim, both of DSU’s Department of Language and Literature. Dr. Peter Grimes, of the same department, coordinated the efforts from 2013 through 2017. Dr. Kathleen Geisen continued the work of Dr. Grimes in 2018.

Today, CommUniversity is a four-week series of courses open to the public that are designed to stimulate thought and enrich the lives of participants personally and professionally. Dedicated to lifelong learning, CommUniversity attracts participants through its continuing motto of “No homework and no exams.” The CommUniversity program has continued support with partial funding from the NDHC and donations from local organizations and community members to fund course presentations. While humanities courses in history, literature, music, and international culture have formed much of the content, in recent years, there have been increased numbers of courses in applied and natural sciences including astronomy, geology, agriculture, genealogy, and computer science. Programming is determined by an advisory committee representing the local community and Dickinson State University. Courses are selected from proposals submitted to the committee for review, and efforts are made to select topics that will appeal to a wide audience. Courses are typically held annually on weekends in February and early March. 


To view course offerings and register for CommUniversity, click here

2018 Flyer

Donate Today 

CommUniversity often receives partial grant support from Humanities North Dakota (, with support services and facility use provided by Dickinson State University. For most courses, there is a registration fee that helps cover the costs of instruction. In addition, CommUniversity may receive sponsor and partner support from Dickinson organizations. In return for donations, sponsors and partners receive recognition in CommUniversity materials distributed throughout the community. Employees of sponsoring and partnering organizations can attend CommUniversity courses free of charge. Those interested in making donations in support of CommUniversity may contact Dr. Kathleen Geisen at or 483-2137 for detailed information.

Everett C. Albers Institute and Festival

The Albers Institute at DSU consists of an interdisciplinary group of scholars, teachers, and devotees of the humanities at Dickinson State University. Administered through the Department of Language and Literature, the Albers Institute sponsors an annual humanities festival in the spring semester.

The namesake of the Albers Institute and Humanities Festival is Everett C. Albers. Born in the heart of North Dakota in Oliver County, Albers was a graduate of DSU in 1966 and a humanities professor at DSU from 1969-73. The author of many books and publications about North Dakota, Albers also created the contemporary humanities tent Chautauqua movement and founded the Great Plains Chautauqua Society. Albers was a pioneer in arranging dialogs between academic humanities scholars and the general public and was deeply committed to the idea that the humanities belong to all the people of North Dakota and the nation.

Following Alber’s death, Lillian Crook, then director of DSU’s Stoxen Library Services and Clay Jenkinson, DSU’s Humanities Scholar in Residence, established the Institute and Festival dedicated to the memory and professional values of Albers. DSU has since hosted a festival of humanities to honor his commitment to the humanities, exploring contemporary and enduring topics in the humanities through events such as lectures, films, panel discussions, exhibits, and other presentations.

For further information about the Albers Institute and Humanities Festival, you may browse through the programs from recent years, archived below, or you may contact Dr. Holly McBee, associate professor of English.

2017 Albers Festival Poster

Past Events

Albers Festival 2015

Heart River Writers' Circle

Heart Rivers Writers' Circle (Circle) brings to the West River area significant, contemporary writers whose work interests a range of readers on the northern plains. Each writer gives a public reading and meets with students and community members to discuss issues germane to writing. By coordinating such visits, as well as by hosting literary events and discussions, the Circle serves as a resource for those interested in writing as vocation or avocation. The Circle, which supports all community literary activities, is sponsored by Dickinson State University’s Department of Language and Literature, DSU’s Stoxen Library, and the Dickinson Area Public Library.

Past Events

Heather Slomski - April 18, 2016

Fracture Tour - March 8, 2016

Rodney Nelson - February 11, 2016

Language and Literature Conference

The Language and Literature Conference is a program requirement and capstone experience for students earning BA and BS degrees in English, English Education, and Writing. It is also a course requirement for completing ENGL 480 Senior Project and the final means by which students demonstrate they have successfully fulfilled institutional, program and course outcomes. To prepare for the Language and Literature Conference, students work on their projects under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Friends, family members and other visitors are invited to attend the public presentation of that work.

Past Events

2014 Brochure

2014 Poster

Women’s Voices

In 1975, the United Nations recognized March 8, as International Women’s Day to encourage awareness of women’s contributions to issues of human rights, liberty, and security. Since 1987, the United States has dedicated the entire month of March to the recognition of women’s contributions to society, culture, and history.

In keeping with both United Nations and United States Presidential proclamations, Dickinson State University created “Women’s Voices”—a series of themed public presentations. Since 2003, Women’s Voices has highlighted the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Every March, speakers from Dickinson and the region give presentations and meet with community members to recognize the strength and influence of women in various facets.

2018 Poster

Past Events

2017 Poster