The first candidate for the UND president’s job met with faculty Tuesday morning.
Robert Marley, professor of engineering management at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, answered questions from faculty for more than an hour Tuesday, Nov. 12,, covering a number of topics from diversity to the impact budget cuts have had on campus morale.
During the faculty meeting, Marley answered four prepared questions from UND’s faculty senate. He then took questions from the audience of about two dozen faculty members.
Among the four prepared questions, Marley was asked about what three characteristics a university president should possess.
“This university has a responsibility to the state, to serve the nation with the excellence that’s here,” Marley said. “No president can be deemed successful if their faculty and students aren’t successful and frankly their leadership team.”
Marley added empowering those around him is also a characteristic successful presidents should emulate, as well as being accountable to those around them.
Marley recently stepped down as provost of Missouri University of Science and Technology after serving in the position for five years. Before his work in Missouri, Marley served as dean at Montana State University.
In a question about how those characteristics would lead to improving morale on campus, Marley said he wants to be a “consensus builder.”
“Vision is something we’ve got to come up together with,” he said. “We all have to have some common avenue.”
Consensus building does not mean everyone gets what they want though, Marley noted. It means that, even if people may disagree with the decision, they feel like they were heard, considered and understood the process.
Speaking to the Herald Tuesday afternoon, Marley said he wanted to understand what the morale issues are on campus.
“One doesn't have to look too deep to understand there haven't been pay plans in the works for a number of years, that will affect any morale anywhere,” Marley said. “But sometimes it also lends to other concerns for retention, talking about student retention and faculty retention, staff retention, it’s critical that we address those.”
Marley said he’s already talked to some members of the leadership team about if the university is able to self-fund any ventures and other potential raise packages. Marley said that is just a start though, the university also needs to be able to turn to a leader who can “embody the vision” of the university.
“There's a responsibility there to treat our employees well, but at the end of the day, accountability, transparency, that sense of vision going forward is important for the president to be able to share that,” Marley said. “I think that helps morale. I don't want to pollyannaish to think it solves all the problems but it's got to be among the first steps.”
Marley was also asked what steps he would take to ensure the recruitment and retention of diverse students, staff and faculty, the question also specifically referred to the five federally recognized Native American tribes in North Dakota and UND’s relationship with those groups.
Marley said that though he was nominated to the position, working with the Native American groups in the state is part of what attracted him to the job. Marley said he is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, as his father is Native American.
According to a Missouri University of Science and Technology press release, Marley, while dean in Montana, led diversity efforts that resulted in recognition as one of the nation’s leading colleges in the graduation of Native American students.
Marley said he would work hard to connect with the tribes, by going there directly, as UND serves all the citizens of North Dakota.
Marley will meet with staff, students and community members on Wednesday. The second candidate for president, Chuck Staben will also be on campus Wednesday. Each of their Wednesday schedules is listed below.
Staff forum: 9 to 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, 100 Leonard Hall
Student forum: noon to 1:15 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13, 114 Witmer Hall
Campus and community forum: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, Room E101, School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Faculty forum: 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, Gorecki Alumni Center