University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Connections and Community conversation is May 4

Connections and Community: Continuing the Conversation about Possible Initiatives

12:30 to 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 4 - UND Wellness Center

The Context:
The President's initiative to engage in a campus-wide conversation to identify three to five "big ideas" about the future of UND has reached a point at which it would be helpful to get feedback on a preliminary sketch of five general Topics that have emerged from earlier steps in the process. Each Topic includes some illustrative initiatives that reflect the ways in which participants in prior sessions have said that UND could pursue initiatives that would be positive steps toward the President's goals of strengthening connections and enhancing community.

The Process:

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to join in a continuation of the conversations that began in early March that have been facilitated by STRATUS consultants, Dr. Sal Rinella and Doug Graham. If you would like to participate in the session on May 4, you will need to RSVP no later than noon on Friday, April 30, to Diane Hadden ( indicating:

your name and which one of the five Topics you would like to discuss in a small group setting.

The session will begin with an overview of the process to date, and then break into small groups to focus on the topics. The purpose of those group discussions will be to address the following three questions:

1) What is the strength of interest in the Topic being part of UND's priorities?
2) If there is interest, which of the more specific illustrative ideas might generate support?
3) Are there any ideas that should be added to the mix?

The May 4 session will conclude with reports back to the entire group about the discussions of each topic.

The last event for the Spring semester will be a town hall meeting from noon to 1:00 on Wednesday, May 5, in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. The meeting will review what has been accomplished so far and will preview the events that are planned as the conversation is resumed at the beginning of the next academic year.

Topic 1: Improving Learning and the Student Experience

Providing an outstanding education to our students is at the heart of who we are as a University. UND has innovative and talented teachers who are using instructional techniques that enrich the educational experience of our students. The conversations have indicated a desire to become even more self-reflective and intentional about how we could increase the effectiveness of student learning across the curriculum and throughout the college years.

Illustrative Ideas:

1. Introduce elements into the first-year experience that would enhance the intellectual and social transition to the University, e.g.,

a. First-year seminars
b. Distinguished Speaker Series
c. Interdisciplinary teaching similar to the University of Michigan's Multidisciplinary Learning and Team Teaching Initiative ( and UND's own Integrated Studies Program
d. Learning communities that combine instruction and learning spaces on the model of Vanderbilt University (
e. Concentrated academic and career advising, etc.

2. Continue to refine the Essential Studies Program to create a distinctive undergraduate experience with identification and attainment of core competencies that are both general and discipline-specific.
3. Expand experiential learning and service-learning opportunities.
4. Expand opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research.
5. Combine student support into a one-stop "concierge" service (on-site and/or virtual), on the order of the University of Minnesota "One-Stop" (, that guides students through the routine processes so that faculty and staff time with students can be focused on providing more productive advising experiences.
6. Expand the support for the Office of Instructional Development and its programs such as the Writing Center and the Alice T. Clark Mentoring Program.
7. Identify and share best practices in instruction and support faculty efforts to adopt or expand their use.
8. Increase the diverse populations within the faculty, staff and students so that students are better equipped to success in a global, multi-cultural environment.
9. Develop a location that would provide space for a broader range of social activities for students, e.g., in the Alerus center; expansion of the Union, a new facility.

Topic 2: Encouraging Gathering

A consistent theme that has emerged from the conversations has been the desire to create spaces in which members of the University community could come together in ways that add to the intellectual and social life of the campus. One participant has phrased this as "needing a place to meet, not just a place to hold meetings."

Illustrative Ideas:

1. Create an intellectual hub at the center of campus through renovation and expansion of the Chester Fritz Library. The focus would be on creating spaces where students and others could gather informally in areas that make interaction easier.
2. Create a collaborative research center that would provide shared laboratories and other research space for faculty who are working on interdisciplinary projects.
3. Create meeting spaces where individuals from different disciplines, constituencies and stakeholder groups can gather to hold conversations and share ideas. Among the spaces could be a specialized "Dialog Room," such as the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University (
4. Create a University Club for faculty and staff dining and social activity.
5. Capitalize on natural pathways and transitional spaces across campus by identifying ways to create a network of distributed gathering hubs across campus.
6. Expand and locate research support functions in ways that encourage gathering and sharing ideas.
7. Dedicate space for graduate students to meet, socialize, and exchange ideas.
8. Improve (and possibly co-locate) spaces for programs that support and enhance diversity on campus.

Topic 3: Facilitating Collaboration

The University is a community in which scholarly expertise is being applied to teaching, research, creative activities, and service. Work across disciplines is already being done, and the conversations have raised the questions of whether or not additional opportunities for collaboration could be identified and obstacles to collaboration could be lowered.

Illustrative Ideas:

1. Identify additional grant opportunities and funding support for collaborative work.
2. Identify additional support for research in areas where there is limited external support.
3. Build collaborative work into the reward structure of the University by recognizing its value and eliminating disincentives to engage in it, e.g., recognition at Founder's Day, promotion and tenure process, budgeting system, etc.
4. Increase the availability of faculty release time to provide greater opportunities for interdisciplinary research and teaching.
5. Increase the infrastructure for research, e.g., staff support, space, etc.
6. Create an interactive, searchable data base that includes profiles of faculty research interests so those who share interests can be easily identified for potential collaboration.
7. Take advantage of the (potential) shared NDUS/UND IT facility to increase the capacity of technology to support connections among people engaged in research and scholarly work.

Topic 4: Expanding UND's Presence

UND is located in a wider community with which we could have mutually beneficial relationships. The conversations have explored the possibility of identifying and taking advantage of new opportunities to establish a stronger presence in the community, adding to our ability to fulfill our educational mission and offering advantages to local businesses and governments.

Illustrative Ideas:

1. Identify University operations that might be used to establish a downtown presence. Possibilities include performing and fine arts studio spaces, space for support functions that do not need to be on campus, and spaces for academic and outreach events that are open to the public. The University presence could attract more people to downtown, leading to increased demand for housing, entertainment, and retail businesses. A downtown presence could also lead to relationships with local government, professions, and businesses to create new opportunities for connecting their activities with the University's academic mission. A potential model is the Artists Village in Santa Ana, California (
2. Develop an Innovation Park on the western side of the campus as a mixed use live-learn-work-play environment that builds off Ryan, Ina Mae Rude, Skalicky, the Hilton Garden Inn, REAC 1 to the north and the Alerus Center to the south. Elements could include an IT Center, specialized research space, selected corporate and government R & D, expansions or relocations of compatible academic programs, a center for professional development, and appropriate retail businesses. Potential models include Technology Square at Georgia Tech ( and the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State (
3. In addition to illustrative ideas 1 and 2, identify other collaborations with the City, Grand Forks Air Force Base, local industry, and the health care providers to create new and expand existing partnerships that will benefit the University and its partners.

Topic 5: Enhancing the Quality of Life for Faculty and Staff

The quality of UND is a result of the talent and dedication of the faculty and staff. As the large generation of Baby Boomers approaches retirement, there will be increased competition to attract and retain people who will sustain UND's level of excellence. This conversation has identified a number of areas that would elevate the quality of life for faculty and staff. A number of them are shared by other organizations in the region, providing an opportunity for UND to collaborate with the City, hospital, Air Force Base, K-12 and others to hire and keep the best and brightest.

1. Employment opportunities for spouses and partners
2. Enhanced and expanded child care
3. A mid-career faculty development program on the model of Alice Clark that could become a part of the faculty and instructional development center mentioned earlier.
4. Staff professional development opportunities
5. If a feasibility study warrants it, affordable housing

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