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UND names VP for diversity, student affairs

Cara Halgren

UND has made a permanent leader of its interim vice president of diversity and student affairs.

Administrator Cara Halgren, a former dean of students, is now the long-term head of the office after being appointed to an interim role last winter. She said earlier this week that she was thrilled with the permanent appointment.

“It’s amazing and humbling, all at the same time,” Halgren said.

Her interim appointment followed the retirement announcement of Laurie Betting, former interim vice president for student affairs, and represented a combined role blending the two formerly distinct jobs that the two women held. As it currently stands, her office now includes most areas related to non-academic student services, a portfolio that ranges from housing and dining to student involvement. The UND press release that announced Halgren’s appointment last winter also stated that student academic services had been moved to the office of the provost and vice president for academic affairs.

As part of her post, Halgren has also served as the main leader for the diversity component of the campuswide UND strategic plan initiative. Her office also oversaw the university’s former chief diversity officer Sandra Mitchell, who resigned and left campus in June.

Halgren said one of her first steps as permanent office head will be continuing a review of how best to provide diversity-based services moving forward, including an assessment of whether Mitchell’s vacated position will be refilled. Halgren credited the strategic plan for framing inclusion goals in “broader, deeper ways,” such as retention and graduation targets.

The planning process also happened to coincide with the physical consolidation of many of the university’s diversity centers within the UND Memorial Union. Halgren said those moves have been part of an attempt to find the most efficient way to deliver services and are representative of a larger work in progress.

“I think right now we have this incredible opportunity to have all kinds of conversations about this to create a structure that works for us,” she said.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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