University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Research and Economic Development, Undergraduate and Graduate Education to Combine Under Academic Affairs

In a move to more closely align undergraduate and graduate education with UND’s research and economic development efforts, President Kelley has announced plans to combine these functions under the leadership of the Division of Academic Affairs.

As part of this move, the Division of Research and Economic Development, led by Vice President Dr. Phyllis Johnson, will now report to UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo. Dr. Wayne Swisher, interim dean of the School of Graduate Studies, will also continue to report to Provost DiLorenzo. At this time, the Division of Research and Economic Development and the School of Graduate Studies will remain independent entities but will work closely together under Dr. DiLorenzo’s leadership.

Noted President Kelley, “Being a premier research institution is a vital part of UND’s mission.  This new alignment will strongly support that mission, because teaching and learning, and research and scholarly activity are all interrelated. Student research creates connections between the classroom and real life, and engaged faculty serve as leaders and mentors in the research process.  As students participate in meaningful research, they produce results and acquire skills, many of which help to drive North Dakota’s economic engine.  Provost DiLorenzo’s interest and experience in entrepreneurship—an important factor in his hiring—will further facilitate this collaboration.”

A primary driver of this restructuring is the need to proactively address the nationwide decline in higher education research funding over the past several years.  The end of earmarks in 2010 and the end of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, along with the onset of sequestration at the federal level, have created much greater uncertainty around the kinds and funding levels of grants, cooperative agreements and contracts that will be available to research universities in the future.

Combining UND’s Research and Economic Development activities with graduate and undergraduate education will help to reinforce the importance of research funding and economic development with UND’s faculty. Provost DiLorenzo has already begun working with the Academic Cabinet (consisting of the college deans and other academic leaders) to address five specific areas related to research and economic growth at UND:

1)     Creating a new budget model to help address growth in research funding and economic development;

2)     Examining ways in which our promotion and tenure guidelines can more clearly reflect scholarship, including research and creative activity, as expectations of a research university;

3)     Placing additional emphasis on undergraduate research;

4)     Working with the School of Graduate Studies to grow graduate programs and tie graduate studies more closely to research activity; and

5)     Creating metrics and benchmarks to advance the five pillars of Exceptional UND.

Dr. DiLorenzo has also begun working with the Division of Research and Economic Development to enhance the growth of research funding in several ways, such as supporting a small grant program to help researchers who are close to securing federal funding; fostering collaboration—also a key tenet of Exceptional UND—between researchers in related areas where funding priorities mesh with UND’s expertise; and supporting changes in faculty advancement to include innovations and patent applications.

Said Dr. DiLorenzo, “I look forward to working with Dr. Johnson and the Division of Research and Economic Development as we build UND’s research capabilities and seek to broaden the research and entrepreneurial experiences of our students and faculty.”

Noted President Kelley, “UND has a strong research orientation and mission, and we have a tradition of attracting talented and committed researchers and of producing students who use their skills to help drive innovation and economic development for North Dakota.  We appreciate Vice President Johnson and her Division’s support of UND’s research and economic development efforts.  As we combine our research and academic structures and resources under Dr. DiLorenzo’s leadership, we are confident we can make great additional progress.”