October 20, 2010
To watch the video go to OnDemand Webcasts
The State of the University
By Dr. Robert O. Kelley, President
University of North Dakota
September 30, 2010, 3:30 p.m.
Memorial Union Ballroom
Thank you, Vice Chair Stofferahn, and good afternoon to the members of the University Council, and to all the faculty, staff and students of the University of North Dakota.
I look forward to another great year working with the leadership of the University: in the University Senate, Kathy Smart and Curt Stofferahn; the Staff Senate, Loren Liepold and Kristi Swartz; and the Student Senate, Matt Bakke and Grant Hauschild.
And thank you for the opportunity to visit with all of you this afternoon.
I believe that we are at an important time in the history of the University of North Dakota. UND is approaching another legislative session in January; we are as large a university as we have ever been in our history; and we are looking forward to making a major announcement next week. UND has many partners and friends, both within the state and around the world, and we gratefully acknowledge the critical importance of these relationships. In many ways, this year will be transformative for all of us…legislators, friends, partners… as we work together to move the University of North Dakota from “Great to Exceptional”.
UND’S EDUCATIONAL TRADITIONS
A great deal has changed since UND was established in 1883. Our society is more global and connected, more immediate, and more focused on performance measures and outcomes than ever before.
But conserving core principles is central to our success, even as we adapt to the changing demands and expectations of our constituents.
UND was founded on the principle that an outstanding liberal arts education is at the core of successful citizenship. We continue that principle today. It is the foundation of the core mission of the University…teaching, learning, and service to the State of North Dakota. UND benefits from an innovative, world class faculty; expert, knowledgeable staff; bright, creative students; and strong commitment to an entrepreneurial spirit …that “can-do spirit”…of our community and state.
CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS AS UND ENTERS THE 2010-2011 ACADEMIC YEAR
All of us are aware of the many challenges facing higher education around the country as a consequence of the continued global economic downturn. North Dakota has not been impacted as severely as other states and, as a result, the University of North Dakota is not only healthy financially, but is able to effectively position itself to excel in meeting its core mission.
UND will continue to offer an excellent education and university experience, at a great value, for students and their families. I urge leaders in our state to continue their commitment to higher education…the payoff is real, tangible and can be measured in hard economic terms.
In addition, as we enter the 2010-2011 academic year, UND is experiencing an all time high enrollment – almost 14,200 students. Overall enrollment in the graduate school is up some 14%, an all time high. Revenue from research grants and contracts, some $128 million, has also achieved an all time high. All these numbers translate into an economic impact of more than $1 billion for our city and state. I want to thank the faculty, staff and students at UND for their hard work in attaining these significant, essential milestones.
I believe that these enrollment numbers are just about right for the physical resources of the institution. So, I submit to you that the challenge before us, now, is not so much quantity, but to continue to focus on quality. Of course, we will need to sustain enrollment numbers. But, of greater importance for the long term, focus now on enhancing the quality of the academic programs at the university; the quality of research, creative and scholarly opportunities for students and faculty; and an enhanced overall quality of the university experience at UND. I’ll speak more to this point in just a moment.
Let me develop this “quality” theme a little bit by highlighting some successes and achievements of UND’s faculty and students.
UND is entering the second year of the 2009-2011 fiscal biennium. As a result of generous legislative support( which helps keep tuition affordable), UND’s record high enrollment, and the success of extramural funding from all sources, UND is not only able to continue support for critical existing academic programs, but is also funding important new programs that address the contemporary priorities of our state. For example, we have established new undergraduate and graduate degree programs in energy engineering and a new Petroleum Research, Education and Entrepreneurship Center. And we have developed the nation’s only major for learning the science and technology behind remotely piloted vehicles.
I should mention, in the same breath, that UND also recommended termination of some 12 programs to the State Board of Higher Education last year. Growth of quality is not just about increasing numbers of programs. Quality is also about getting the most out of available resources.
To this end, working in full partnership with North Dakota State University, a new Masters degree in Public Health is nearing completion. This innovative program will share institutional resources, both old and new, and will permit students enrolled in either institution to complete a degree program very much needed in the state.
As an aside, it is a pleasure to welcome President Dean Bresciani to North Dakota. UND looks forward to continued collaboration with our colleagues at NDSU.
On the interdisciplinary front, UND students may also complete a Ph.D. in educational leadership with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and a Masters degree in Public Administration in social entrepreneurship.
UND’s program in clinical psychology just received the full seven year accreditation from the American Psychological Association.
UND’s Law School has just been placed in the nation’s Top 20 Best Value Law Schools by prelaw magazine.
And, perhaps most useful of all, students can now take Norwegian 101 on-line.
Furthermore, UND students are competing successfully for prestigious national scholarships, and for national championships in both academic and athletic competition. Did you know that UND’s Flying Team just won their 16th national championship?
And I just learned this morning that UND’s UAS Engineering Laboratory team made history this week in the 2010 Australian International UAV Outback Search and Rescue competition held in Queensland. UND’s team became the first in the four-year history of the competition to actually locate the prized target, a life-size dummy known as “Outback Joe”. To achieve their success, they used ground-assessment technologies positioned on UAV platforms that have been developed at UND.
In recognition of the emphasis UND places on student participation in shared governance, student leadership has been advanced to membership on the President’s Cabinet, with President Matt Bakke and, when unable to attend, Vice President Grant Hauschild bringing the student perspective to the considerations of that group.
And UND’s staff isn’t doing badly, either. Janice Hoffarth in the Music Department and Kirk Peterson of the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences just received the Governor’s Award for Public Service to citizens of the State of North Dakota.
Speaking of the President’s Cabinet, a search is nearing completion for the next Vice President for Student Affairs upon the announced retirement of Bob Boyd, who leaves office in December.
I’ve asked Dr. Boyd to continue on with UND for a bit as the Name and Logo Transition Officer. As you know, UND is retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo following the directive, last April, of the State Board of Higher Education. UND has until August 15, 2011, to complete the transition.
As an aside, I hope all of you are enjoying, as much as I am, watching the renovation of the old education building. When finished it will be the proud new home of the UND College of Education and Human Development. I want to thank the legislature for approving Stimulus Funding for this project; and I also want to thank the faculty and staff for their patience while the construction and renovations are being completed.
And even though we can’t enjoy watching construction in Bismarck on a daily basis, the new clinical facility for the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Family Medicine Residency is almost at the groundbreaking stage.
I should also mention that at this time of the year, with Homecoming just a week away, the campus is beautiful and buzzing with activity, thanks to the hard work of UND’s dedicated facilities and operations staff.
And mentioning Homecoming prompts me to invite you to join me Friday, October 8, at 3 p.m. at the Chester Fritz Auditorium for an announcement that will “Ignite the Spirit” and help explain how we are going to transform this University “from Great to Exceptional”.
So, in summary, all appears to be quite well at UND.
OVER THE HORIZON: what’s coming?
But what’s developing just over the horizon that will affect UND?
This summer, I’ve attended many legislative committee meetings in Bismarck. As we get a bit closer to the 2011 session, I’ll be bringing to all of you an update of the budget and capital construction requests for the university.
At the moment, though, many individual legislators are asking some fundamental questions, all of which center, in one way or another, on the issue of “return on investment” for UND, and the other NDUS institutions.
These questions are often worded in different ways, but they still have the same message.
Is Higher Education still relevant and necessary for North Dakotans? Are research universities worth the cost of sustaining them? Do the research universities really serve an important role as economic engines for the state? Why should we use taxpayer funds to educate students from out of state? And when do the continued requests for increased appropriations for higher education end?
So, in a nutshell, what’s the return on investment?
I believe that UND is providing a significant return on investment for North Dakota. We are helping to enrich a burgeoning economy, and this is happening in several meaningful ways.
UND is preparing an increasingly educated workforce with the skills of critical thought, effective communication, and problem solving that is desired in employees in every industry. Students engage the essential studies program, then commit to majors and degree programs in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), health professions, business and industry, education and law…all needed by North Dakota.
UND is also helping industry find more effective ways of enhancing their productivity…for example, developing new vaccines; thinking through more effective business plans; creating novel technologies for aviation platforms; and defining innovative ways of assessing human performance and behavior. And we’re providing employees of these businesses the opportunity to access courses and degree programs on-line…in partnership with other colleges and universities in the North Dakota University System.
There is no better example of UND’s value proposition to North Dakota than the work UND is doing to help the oil industry find better ways of extracting oil and geothermal energy from the Bakken Formation in the western part of the state; to manage carbon emissions and carbon storage in innovative, creative ways; and to develop novel techniques to use agricultural waste to make biodiesel fuel. UND provides the educated workforce that delivers health care in rural areas; provides executive leadership for established companies in the state; educates entrepreneurial leadership that is vital to small business start ups; and contributes to the education of students in K-12. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say UND continues to help enrich the quality of lives for North Dakota by providing access to the performing arts…including the Theatre Department, celebrating its Centennial this year…and through the performances of our music faculty and
students, and through programs such as the nationally acclaimed UND Writers Conference. By the way, if you haven’t seen the exceptional new text, Storytelling Time, by Prof. Art Jones and his colleagues, which catalogs the remarkable collection of Native North American art and other objects on our campus, I encourage you to do so.
As I study the economic reports of Prof. David Flynn, R&D revenues at the university, in 2009, approached $100 million. As I mentioned a moment ago, these revenues are some $28 million greater in 2010. But in 2009, adding direct, indirect and induced impacts, UND research and development generated an almost $200 million cumulative economic output impact across the region. The employment impact included 1,650 jobs, and nearly $20 million in cumulative tax revenues in the region. I believe that this is a significant, positive return on investment by UND.
And UND’s value to society…?
UND has provided about 45% of the physicians practicing in North Dakota. Most of the presidents of tribal colleges in North Dakota, and many across the nation, are UND graduates. Significant percentages of the state’s physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, clinical laboratory scientists, physician assistants, social workers, school superintendants and principals, elementary and secondary school teachers, nurses, and almost 1000 engineers and oil and gas experts working the oil play that is so critical to the economic health of the state…are all educated at UND. According to the latest placement study, 60% of UND graduates who also graduated from a ND high school stayed in ND to contribute to the state’s economy.
I am confident when I say that UND demonstrates a significant return on investment for North Dakota. I submit that no other industry in the state contributes more to developing and sustaining the efficient, quality workforce needed to support the state of North Dakota than does UND.
So…please get out there and tell UND’s story…of the faculty, students, staff and graduates of UND who are making a bold, transformative difference for North Dakota.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE…where are we going?
I’d like to conclude my remarks about the state of the university today by reminding everyone of the conversations that were started last semester, and that continued over the summer with the community of Grand Forks… and in which most of us in the university community were engaged. As you recall, I charged UND’s Provost with leading an effort to take our last strategic plan and sharpen its focus, so that we would have a shared vision of our university’s priorities going forward.
Working closely with Vice President Alice Brekke, Provost Paul LeBel retained consultants from the Stratus Group to facilitate a series of conversations about the future of UND. I was very pleased at how many of you participated in these conversations and how many of you made productive, thoughtful contributions to the development of a shared vision for UND.
I believe that those conversations have produced broad support for five key elements of a vision that holds the promise of transforming this university… by strengthening relationships both inside and outside the university.
The vision that has emerged from listening to all of you about what is most important to our future can be organized under five broad headings.
I am very excited to share them with you today.
- The first is to enrich the student learning experience.
It is not surprising that this is at the top of the list. This is, when all is said and done, why we exist as an institution of higher education, and the primary way we serve the citizens of North Dakota.
Under this heading of enriching the learning experience, there are already efforts underway. One clear example is the Undergraduate Learning Working Group. Led by Ryan Zerr from the Department of Mathematics and Brett Goodwin from the Department of Biology, this faculty-initiated effort is identifying some promising pilot projects to improve the first year experience and to develop an early warning advising system. We know how critical both of these activities are to the success of our students, to keeping them engaged and intellectually challenged in a supportive environment.
In addition, UND has created a new position – Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education – to ensure continuity and to underscore UND’s commitment to a successful undergraduate experience.
Furthermore, the UND that you envision, an exceptional UND , will employ more learning communities; have more students engaged in research; place more students into real world experiential learning settings; provide integrated advising about academic programs, academic success, career counseling, and life issues; and chart clear pathways for students to succeed while they are at UND.
- A second set of vision elements revolves around the idea of facilitating collaboration.
There are obvious strengths across campus that could have an even greater impact if they effectively worked together. We know that there is already a good deal of collaboration in research, and Vice President Johnson is leading the development of a research strategic plan to identify and support even more ambitious and cutting edge projects.
Collaboration in research is critical to an exceptional university, but research is not the only area in which collaboration can create greater impact. Teaching can be more engaging to students and rewarding to faculty when instruction cuts across traditional boundaries between disciplines. Similarly, collaborative service can bring faculty, staff, students, and organizations together in ways that add value to the Greater Grand Forks community and to the surrounding region. We will search for ways to both incentivize and reward successful collaborative outcomes in teaching and service.
- A third priority that you told us was important to making this university truly exceptional was encouraging gathering.
This priority covers a number of both small and large initiatives that will change the way we interact. For example, we need to make it easier than it is now for people to get together spontaneously. We also need to create places that are more intentional destinations…places that will strengthen our sense of community and help us fulfill the multiple dimensions of our mission. Two of the exciting ideas that were raised in our conversations about the future involve the creation of hubs that are focused on essential attributes of university life.
One is an intellectual hub, a place where people go to pursue ideas and to gather together with others who may have similar interests. This intellectual commons could evolve around the hub of the Chester Fritz Library, so that even its location symbolizes the centrality of learning to an exceptional university.
A second hub would be a social gathering place that includes a broad range of activities and spaces suitable for different types of casual getting together.
By exercising our imagination about how to encourage gathering, we can be distinctive as a campus that offers the advantages of a major research university, yet maintains much of the feel of a small liberal arts college.
- A fourth area of priority is improving the quality of life for the people who promote the university’s endeavors, our faculty and staff.
UND is a community.
We must implement such initiatives as expanded child care opportunities; a more deliberate and effective approach to accommodating the needs of dual career partners; provide mid-career faculty with development opportunities that are comparable to the world class Alice T. Clark Mentoring program for new faculty; and ensure that all of our staff have the development opportunities to enhance their skills and career progression and satisfaction.
- And finally, a fifth vision element involves expanding UND’s “presence”.
Some of UND’s presence will be physical. We must continue to look for opportunities downtown and around the periphery of campus to develop meaningful partnerships with our local businesses, professions, community groups, and government agencies.
Some of this expanded presence will be virtual, as we continue to provide learning at a distance that brings our first rate education to people who can’t come to us. Some of this expanded presence will be global, as we strengthen our partnerships with such institutions such as the American College of Norway and the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, and as we continue to develop additional academic partnerships.
And some of this expanded presence will draw on connections that we already have, in the form of our graduates who live and work around the state, across the nation, and throughout the world. We can continue to build on our relationships with our alumni, so that they help us with both ends of our student pipeline, recruiting prospective students and employing well-educated graduates.
And the relationship with our alumni operates in both directions. They help inform our work in teaching and research, so that we are aware of the changing world in which our students will operate.
And we help them maintain and sharpen the skill sets that contribute to their success, by making available continuing education and information about the breakthroughs in knowledge and creativity that are occurring as a routine matter at an exceptional university.
So, to conclude my thoughts this afternoon, you and I, working together, can transform UND through focusing our activities into five fairly simple priorities:
improving the quality of life for faculty and staff
and expanding UND’s presence.
The time is right.
We are located in a state with a thriving economy and a population that is historically supportive of higher education.
We have students who are eager to be challenged by their education and to become the leaders of tomorrow.
And we have the most desired resource of all… a dedicated faculty and staff who are committed, not only to their personal and professional success, but who devote enormous time, energy, and talent to the students and to the mission of UND .
I challenge all of us to transform this great university.
Help create the UND of which you wish to be a part.
Ignite the Spirit…
Together, we will make our shared vision a reality.
April 12, 2010
I am very pleased and excited to announce the 40th Annual UND Indian Association (UNDIA) and Indian Studies Association (ISA) Time Out Week and Wacipi (Pow Wow) to be held at UND April 12-18, 2010. Time Out Week and the Wacipi were originally designed and implemented over four decades ago by a small group of American Indian students attending UND who recognized a need within our campus community for a greater understanding about their heritage and cultures. These students encouraged our entire campus community to take “Time Out” for one week each year to share in and celebrate their cultural traditions. Today’s UNDIA and ISA students continue this tradition of education and celebration while sharing their unique talents and contributions to the state, region, and nation with our UND campus community.
The Time Out Week and Wacipi provide the campus and the Greater Grand Forks community a wealth of wonderful opportunities to participate in the culturally rich and highly informative events focused on the cultures and issues of the indigenous tribes of our state and region. American Indians are the largest and fasting growing ethnic minority group in the state of North Dakota; therefore, I believe it is critically important and valuable for the entire University community to be exposed to the beautiful and complex tribal cultures in order to expand our knowledge of this region’s diverse population, and to develop a greater appreciation and sensitivity concerning American Indian people and cultures.
Please mark April 12-18 on your calendar and help me by promoting the events, participating and warmly welcoming our distinguished American Indian presenters, dancers, drum groups, and visitors to UND.
Robert O. Kelley, President
April 9, 2010
View the archived video of this address along with the Q/A session. The forum will be rebroadcast at 8 p.m. today (Friday, April 9) on UND Cable Channel 3 in Grand Forks.
Today, we come together to begin the process of transition. The State Board of Higher Education’s decision to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo launches this initiative…and allows all of us at the University of North Dakota to focus on our core mission: The advancement of knowledge and learning through teaching, research, scholarship and innovation…and through service to our community, state, region and nation.
UND is about people — students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends – who must come together if we are to successfully fulfill this mission. I ask our students and alumni and all friends of the University to join me in the important work ahead as we define new traditions for the University of North Dakota.
In my 40 years in higher education, I have never met a more passionate alumni base or a more dedicated faculty, staff and student body than we have at UND. Our alums are a tremendous asset to this university… and I understand their strong feelings toward the Fighting Sioux identity. There are great memories and accomplishments attached to it. As a result, many will find it difficult to say goodbye to the nickname and logo. But by working together, our gain will be greater than our loss.
I want to reassure our students and alumni – and all friends of the University – that we will make sure we appropriately retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
To manage that process, I am appointing Dr. Robert Boyd, our Vice President for Student and Outreach Services, as the Transition Officer. Dr. Boyd is a highly respected leader on the UND campus and across the state. I want to thank Dr. Boyd for agreeing to lead this process.
As we move forward, I will create a President’s Transition Cabinet made up of representative stakeholders. This group will work with me as the transition process is implemented and will be viewed as critical to reaching a successful result.
Our commitment to educating all students dates to the founding of the University in 1883. Our commitment to educating American Indian students is borne out by our more than 20 American Indian-related programs and services that have produced 20 percent of all of the working American Indian doctors in the United States…as well as countless nurses, scientists, engineers, business and civic leaders, educators, and others who have made profound contributions to our country. It is a commitment that will continue to deepen.
The passion that our alumni and friends of the university have for UND is driven by much more than the nickname and logo. The bond is stronger than that…the connections more meaningful… and the commitment more dedicated.
Knowing our alumni, I believe they will embrace this opportunity to come together and move forward as one UND family. We will be a stronger university as we focus on our ambitious core mission and develop the new traditions of an identity around which the entire University of North Dakota community can rally.
And now I’ll be happy to take a few questions.
UND Developing Web Site for External Audiences, Launches “Blog” To Keep Campus Updated About Web Site Progress
March 31, 2010
Dear University Community:
The University of North Dakota is poised for an exceptional future. The way in which we present the University to the rest of the world is a critical piece of becoming exceptional. Since our Web site is the most widely-used global resource for information about UND, we have begun an intense process for building a new UND Web site. This project goes beyond creating a new visual look; it will represent a new architecture designed specifically for reaching our external audiences. A separate and secure internal Internet environment — an Intranet, if you will — will become the main communication tool for the informational needs of internal audiences, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
To guide the process, the President’s Cabinet approved the following purpose statement: “A significant marketing tool for the University, the Web site will be redesigned as the primary interface between the University of North Dakota and its key external constituency groups (such as prospective students, their families and alumni).”
The President’s Cabinet also created a Web Oversight Committee (WOC), which began meeting in October 2009 using the above purpose statement as its guide to outline the structure, priorities and execution of the new site. The team is led by Peter Johnson and Dr. Josh Riedy. A new Web Team has been in place as of January 2010 to begin organizing and implementing information based on the purpose statement and direction of the WOC. The Web Team is led by Nathan Clough and Amanda Hvidsten.
The goal is to have the external site completed by October 2010 to coincide with the recruiting cycle.
More information regarding what our new approach means to each college or unit on campus will be available soon. In the meantime, I invite you to visit http://webdevelopment.und.edu/ for updates, details, and other announcements.
The Web is our most effective public marketing tool, and we must use it fully and appropriately to present the information the world seeks about us. This is an exciting time and this approach will surely enhance our efforts as UND moves from great to exceptional.
Dr. Robert O. Kelley
State of the University Address, Fall 2009: Defining the Strategies, Action Items That Will Take UND “From Great to Exceptional”
December 1, 2009
Thank you and good afternoon.
A “state of the university address” is a valuable opportunity. It is a time to reflect and evaluate, and to contemplate a shared vision for our institutional future and to begin the process of refining that conversation into an action plan for moving forward.
I believe that it is time for UND to make some major steps forward, both in its expectations for itself, and to achieve its full potential for our society.
So, instead of reciting a litany of specific achievements recently made by faculty, staff and students, and of the many accolades and awards received by UND’s departments (including the athletic department), colleges, schools and centers, I would like to lay the foundation for what I believe should be UND’s future. It is my hope that these comments will begin a collective conversation that will extend through the remainder of this academic year, and that will result in the development of, and a shared commitment to, specific action items that will advance UND and its many components and constituencies going forward.
I also intend to include in my remarks some of the necessary priorities that I feel UND will need to make to be successful in our transition from “great to exceptional”.
As UND prepares to enter its 127th year in January 2010, I believe that all of us in the UND Family can take considerable pride in the work that we do to continue the mission, goals and distinction of this great institution.
Let me take a few moments to discuss where we currently are:
As we move through the 2009-2010 academic year, UND enjoys substantial support from the North Dakota legislature, the executive branch, the State Board of Higher Education and our congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. These groups continue to support the vision of higher education as an economic engine for our state, and to sustain the principles of flexibility with accountability in the management of our institutions. Overall, UND appreciated a significant increase in its budgeted expenditures. As a matter of fact, I think I’m safe in saying that this is the best budget position ever — a position that is remarkable when compared with other public postsecondary institutions across the nation. UND’s budget supports the mission of preparing students for tomorrow: 13,172 students this semester — 10,440 undergraduates and 2732 graduates — 15 students shy of a record enrollment — as they pursue degrees in some 220 fields of study which include 90 majors, 70 minors, 59 graduate programs, 24 doctoral programs, 2 professional programs and 1 specialist diploma. In addition, we appreciate support from the state for renovation and addition to the College of Education and Human Development building, and for construction of a new building for the UND Family Medicine Clinic and Residency Program in Bismarck. Planning is already under way for both of these projects.
UND also appreciates the positive partnership with the cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks; the communities in the state that support UND’s Family Medicine programs; the community hospitals that assist in the education of students in medicine, nursing and the health sciences; and for the Grand Forks Airport Authority and the Grand Forks Air Force Base for their ongoing support for UND’s programs in collegiate aviation. In return, the UND community contributes over $100 million in economic development to the Grand Cities.
I might also add that the budget supported by the Governor, the legislature and North Dakota’s congressional delegation continues to position UND as an affordable and accessible university, fully compliant with the academic plan and goals of the North Dakota University System.
As I talk with faculty and staff across campus, it is clear to me that the institution is dedicated to the creation of knowledge, the transmission of that knowledge to our students and to colleagues in our disciplines, and to the application of that knowledge to the problems of society (put differently, building North Dakota through teaching and learning; research, scholarship and creative work; and service to the community and State). This is the strong base upon which we will continue to build.
It is also clear to me that UND enjoys significant synergies in three multidisciplinary selected areas: energy and the environment; the biomedical, behavioral, and life sciences; and the liberal arts.
And it is also clear to me that these selected areas are further enhanced through functional connections with the professions: medicine, nursing and other health professions; business; law; education; and the advanced technologies that are fundamental to the sciences, engineering and mathematics.
So, what should UND emphasize? What do we aspire to become in the years ahead?
- First and foremost, my vision of the future is one in which the UND student experience will make a demonstrable difference in the values, the talents, and the critical thinking and problem solving that graduates must be able to bring to a global society. UND will be a national leader in the integration of the liberal arts into the education of every student with the goal of providing the highest quality opportunity for individual growth and fulfillment in that global society.
- UND must also aspire to providing students with the highest intellectual and practical skills: inquiry, analysis, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, ethical reasoning, quantitative literacy, information literacy and teamwork and problem solving.
- UND will continue to be committed to excellence in teaching and learning, and in the provision of activities and services that will make that possible. To this end, UND will be a national leader in the application of advanced technologies to teaching and learning, and, further, through an increased emphasis on learning networks within the experience of the university.
- UND will become the premier institution for research and development related to energy utilization, renewability and sustainability; and also in the development and implementation of sustainable policies for our environment.
- UND will be the nation’s leader in health care education and training for rural primary care and for rural health care policy. To this end, UND will continue to emphasize the importance of research and scholarship in the basic and applied life sciences.
- UND must place a high priority on its research enterprise. Better organization within the new Office of Research and Economic Development will focus on enhancing technology transfer and the management of intellectual property, and increasing UND’s competitiveness for extramural funding.
- UND will continue to lead the world in the field of collegiate aviation, and in the research, development and commercialization of innovations related to unmanned aircraft systems.
- UND will aspire to achieve the highest possible rates of student retention and degree completion, both undergraduate and graduate.
- And, in addition, UND will aspire to a significant international and multicultural presence, both on campus and abroad, with the goal of creating a learning environment that fosters greater curiosity and understanding in students regarding international and intercultural issues. The emphasis should be on student and faculty engagement with the big question, both contemporary and enduring.
Permit me a few moments to elaborate on some of these points:
First, I hope that it is clear that I’m addressing some fundamental — but fairly large — questions that will impact UND’s growth as a research university. What characteristics and qualities do we want our graduates to exhibit in a global society; what kind of world environment will UND promote in which they will live and serve; and what quality of life will UND promote that will enhance the fulfillment of the individual, both on campus and going forward (and I might add for those of us who work at UND on a daily basis)?
I submit that the people who will shape tomorrow are in today’s classrooms, laboratories, centers and clinics. And I submit that the strategies that today’s students are using to learn — for example, the formation of on-line networks and IT-based information management — are practical innovations that are challenging traditional pedagogy and traditional strategies in higher education. Students are using informational and networking technologies more and more as a component of their college experience and for their learning.
It is my judgment that UND is lagging behind in the use of IT for student learning and should position itself to take the lead in the applications of technology for both teaching and learning, and in computational research and scholarship.
What will make UND fresh and engaging in the future will not only be a greater application of technology to teaching and learning, but also the continued development of some of the initiatives that are taking place on campus right now.
For example, the faculty and the academic leadership of UND are re-shaping undergraduate education through the evolution of general education requirements as foundations of learning. The essential studies program develops a fabric of knowledge, critical thinking and problem solving that weaves its way throughout the undergraduate years.
It is also my observation that UND’s graduates will need to be comfortable in international settings.
International study at UND is not a distraction. The data shows us that students who have an international study experience as an undergraduate perform at a higher level academically and graduate at rates that are higher and earlier than their counterparts who do not study abroad. An international presence and experience for UND students must become a higher priority for this institution; and that experience must include cultural awareness, language proficiency, and knowledge of history and societal development in regions of the world that lie beyond the borders of North America.
As we go forward, our students and their faculty members must also continue to be creative and entrepreneurial. I’m going to elaborate on this point in some depth, as there are opportunities for synergies in teaching, learning, research, and tech transfer and commercialization in the following example.
The new Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Vehicles, abbreviated respectively as UAS and UAV, is a remarkable opportunity for UND. This center of excellence, supported by both state and federal resources, is designed to research and develop technologies for unmanned flight. The activity is far from “unmanned” and will require development of new, innovative ways for crews on the ground to fly machines virtually all over the world. Think about this for a moment from a multidisciplinary perspective, and from the standpoint of education, research and development, entrepreneurship, and commercialization. Add to your thinking the perspectives of human behavioral analysis, ethics and public policy. Pilot training requires that new instructional software be developed. New flight simulators must be designed to utilize this software. Flight systems require new remote sensors to keep pilots on the ground informed of what’s happening in the air, and to keep vehicles from bumping into each other while in the air. Higher resolution imaging systems must be developed to analyze what’s on the ground. Newer, more fuel efficient engines must be designed — and new sustainable fuels developed — perhaps from hydrogen, or sustainable biomass. And behavioral studies of human performance for pilots and maintenance crews must be completed and understood, depending upon the wide range of activities in which UAVs will be engaged.
The work that will be done at the UAS Center of Excellence has the potential for starting up new businesses, or expanding the product lines of existing businesses. Furthermore, development of this potential requires expertise from multiple disciplines: students, faculty and staff in engineering and mines, education and human development, business and public administration, aerospace, the department of entrepreneurship , the EERC , the Center for Innovation and the REAC 1 facility in UND’s research park, nursing, psychology, medicine and health sciences, chemistry, and, not to leave anyone out, our law faculty may be required to assist the FAA in working through rules and regulations for use of airspace. How UND develops the teaching, research and entrepreneurial potential in the UAS Center will be an additional metric in how well the institution achieves both its mission and vision.
Let me turn to the goal of bringing UND to a premier national position in the fields of energy and the environment.
North Dakota is blessed with an abundance of carbon-based energy resources. Our state is also blessed with the basic materials required for renewable and sustainable energy generation: geothermal, wind and biomass. UND must develop an even greater presence in energy research and education. And we will continue to expand programs in the responsible use of our environment.
Two weeks ago, I met with a group of students encouraging me to continue to emphasize the goals of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. Our students are telling UND that we must exercise leadership in our communities, and throughout society, by modeling ways to reduce global warming by limiting CO2 emissions, and by providing the knowledge and the educated graduates that will continue to work to achieve climate neutrality. In many ways, I believe that this issue is the defining issue for this generation of students. As I conversed with this group, I was reminded of the work being done by students and faculty across campus to catalog UND’s carbon footprint, and to develop technologies that will significantly reduce carbon emissions and the overall carbon footprint of the university. Faculty and staff in the EERC are applying new technologies to store carbon, and to evaluate commercial production of alternative fuels like hydrogen. As a result of work continuing on campus, and through the persuasion of UND’s students, it is not unreasonable to envision UND as a premier institution developing solutions that address energy utilization, sustainability and policy. UND must become the go-to institution for developing solutions that address the quality of the environment, including such complex issues as global warming and air and water quality.
Finally, let me speak to how UND must become a leader in fulfilling the quality of life for the individual. Put differently, what should UND do to become a premier institution that contributes to the development of the whole person — in the holistic sense?
For me, quality of life embraces a wide range of intellectual and physical pursuits: arts and humanities, including music and theatre; science and technology; physical exercise; intelligent conversation on the issues of the day; travel and an informed interest in what’s happening around the world; and personal relationships. Sometimes, quality of life requires that we stop, listen, reflect, contemplate, process some new piece of information – and smile. Listen to the Twamley Carillon at noon. UND permits us to do that.
And to this end, I believe that it is desirable that UND aspire to be a premier institution known for providing a student with the foundation for a fulfilling existence, someone able to be accomplished across both general and specialized fields.
I’m saying all of this to emphasize that UND is not only about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, but also to the development of “human infrastructure”, if you will, involving an integration of the liberal arts and humanities with other specialized courses of studies. UND values innovation and creativity in literature, music, visual and performing arts, history, sociology, philosophy, languages and linguistics as well as STEM. All must be valued parts of the vibrant intellectual environment at UND. And all, I believe, are at the core of a holistic “educated” person.
UND must also be at the forefront in the promotion of physical and mental wellness through education and through the provision of health care and the education of health professionals. The UND community enjoys one of the finest wellness programs and centers in the nation. In addition, UND’s College of Nursing and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences are recognized leaders in meeting the health needs of rural populations in innovative and practical ways. The greatest advances in the country in addressing the underrepresentation of Native Americans engaged in the health professions are being made on our campus. And we are positioned to address significant questions through behavioral research by students, faculty and staff in the Department of Psychology and in the Counseling Center in Student Health. Also, we are bringing together the interdisciplinary strengths of the two research universities in our state to deliver a new Master’s of Public Health degree. Collaborating with NDSU, this effort combines elements of pharmacy, medicine, nursing, epidemiology, psychology and social work to form a public health curriculum.
My vision, then, is that UND will become an even greater force in the education and training of health professionals for the state. When we examine the health and wellness of our society half a century from now, we will be able to point to the central role that UND played in preparing health care professionals for rural and frontier America, and to the role that these graduates played in increasing access to health care and to increased levels of wellness in our state and nation.
In closing, it’s evident to me, through listening to discussions of legislators serving on the Interim Committee for Higher Education and to the deliberations of the State Board of Higher Education, that UND is expected to use its resources to make significant contributions in support of the state’s economy and workforce. To this end, the academic plan of the North Dakota University System, a draft of which can be accessed online in the agenda of the November 19, 2009, meeting of the board calls for significant increases in enrollment, retention and graduation of individuals in the eleven institutions in the state system.
Success in meeting this expectation will require UND to continue to improve its efforts in marketing and advertising — one way of addressing enrollment enhancement and management.
But an additional priority, going forward, will be to increase UND’s retention and graduation rates. At present, based on data published by the UND Office of Institutional Research, slightly more than three fourths of UND’s students continue into their second year of study. And a significant percentage are unable to complete graduation within the traditional four years.
As we move ahead with our plans to meet both the mission and vision for our university, I anticipate a vigorous conversation in the planning process that will address issues of retention and graduation rates; and financial aid and the economic impact on families when students require longer than four to five years to complete a degree. In addition, I would invite discussion regarding sorting of students (viz. by test scores and GPA from high schools); the “undermatching” problem of students fearing that they will be unable to achieve at a four year research institution but who can succeed and should be enrolled; and in promoting environments, including financial ways and means, by which under-represented minority students, specifically American Indian students, can matriculate and graduate from UND.
So…let me extend a call to action.
I invite the campus to join in a conversation during the next semester about planning the next steps for UND. We have engaged in two comprehensive strategic planning exercises in the last decade, and we ought not to have to reinvent the wheel in charting our strategies and tactics for tomorrow. Under the direction and leadership of the Provost, the academic deans, and the leadership of every department at UND, our goal will be to determine how each unit will approach the goals expressed this afternoon, and then to identify the specific major actions — and the resources — needed to move each component of the university to the next level.
One word of caution:
It will be a mistake to think that UND should attempt to be all things to all people.
But I firmly believe that UND can make a difference in preparing the society of tomorrow. We have the talent, the commitment, and the collegial and collaborative attitudes that will show that the University of North Dakota is a special place — because of our people, and because of what our people are doing. I firmly believe that UND’s lasting priority — and UND’s lasting legacy — will always be our students and our graduates, and the provision of opportunities for those students to excel — to be the very best — be it in the classroom, laboratory, studio, clinic, cockpit, business incubator, or in athletic competition.
We have work to do.
I look forward to the next several months as we define the strategies and action items that will take UND from Great to Exceptional. We will do so together.
Thank you, Professor [Wendelin] Hume, for this opportunity to address the University Council.