Leadership in the office of the UND provost is becoming increasingly spread among a widening group of campus leaders.

University Provost Tom DiLorenzo says he's been "pleasantly surprised" by faculty interest in a program intended to engage a broader pool of current UND employees in responsibilities opened as part of his office's now-unoccupied senior vice provost position. That role was formerly held by Steven Light, who was appointed interim dean of the UND School of Business and Public Administration, and is now filled at least halfway by a pair of deans from academic colleges.

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"I was wondering how to get some help there," said DiLorenzo, speaking of his office after Light's departure. "I thought I'd bring two deans in, part-time each, then backfill with help from faculty members."

Those deans are Debbie Storrs and Hesham El-Rewini, the respective leaders of the UND College of Arts and Sciences and the UND College of Engineering and Mines. Both have agreed to spend 25 percent of their time managing portfolios in the provost's office with the help of faculty fellows. DiLorenzo said his office fielded applications from more than 20 university employees interested in picking up duties in the provost's office.

Some of the new office crew has yet to start, but DiLorenzo guessed that the full team of workers might not add up to one full-time employee. El-Rewini and Storrs are currently spending part of their day in the provost's office, but the faculty and staff support negotiated individual start dates to kick off work between July 1 and Sept. 1.

The more team-based approach will be in place for at least the next year, DiLorenzo said.

"We'll decide what we want to do after that," he said, citing an example that, if an area of his office's oversight is successfully addressed by the new strategy, "we won't need a position there anymore."

For their parts, both Storrs and El-Rewini have already begun working in the provost's office and report that their work is going well. Storrs said her portfolio there includes a focus on the university's honors program, international programs and a new unit called the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy.

Storrs was particularly excited about the developmental unit and said she was looking to faculty to help with the wider portfolio. Generally, she thought the division of labor "provides a pipeline for faculty to develop and grow their leadership roles," both in managing tasks in the provost's office and in encouraging associate deans to step up in the College of Arts and Sciences.

El-Rewini-whose portfolio includes faculty affairs, the university's Office of Institutional Effectiveness, the university registrar's office and student services-also spoke positively about the diffused program, describing it as an "innovative" approach to using leadership expertise sourced from the different colleges at UND.

Both deans emphasized the importance of their college leadership teams and neither believed their time in the provost's office was taking away from their presence in their individual schools.

The system has yet to be tested outside the slower summer months on campus, but DiLorenzo is optimistic that it will continue to perform well under the experience of Storrs and El-Rewini.

"I think what we're doing is building leadership," he said. "It's kind of a nice model because we have a lot of people doing a little bit, then later they can be called on for different things."