LeBel named to No. 2 post at UND
Paul LeBel, the temporary No. 2 administrator at UND for 22 months, is no longer a temp, President Robert Kelley said. When LeBel was tapped for the interim job of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, he named three priorities that he ...
Paul LeBel, the temporary No. 2 administrator at UND for 22 months, is no longer a temp, President Robert Kelley said.
When LeBel was tapped for the interim job of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, he named three priorities that he would work on, and he's made substantial progress on all three, Kelley wrote in announcing LeBel's promotion Monday.
With many other issues facing UND, including the recently announced $300 million fundraising campaign and the upcoming state legislative session, Kelley said he felt continuity of leadership was important.
LeBel, the former School of Law dean, said he was initially leery of the new job, even if it was temporary, because he didn't think he'd be very good at it. "I really felt that moving out of the Law School on a temporary basis was giving up something I really, really enjoyed and knew how to tell when I was doing it well. I didn't have that sense moving into the provost office."
He feels more confident today, he said, because of the response from the university community and because of his experience with fellow provosts.
LeBel, hired in 2003 from Florida State University to head UND's Law School, replaces Greg Weisenstein, who departed for West Chester University in Pennsylvania in late 2008.
There was no national search for a new provost, as is the norm for most top jobs in higher education, something Kelley said he's sensitive to. But, he said, the "overwhelming sentiment" he's heard in his consultations with other administrators and with campus leaders has convinced him LeBel is the right person for the job.
The three priorities LeBel named when he first came to the provost's office are: changing the decision-making culture so faculty and staff no longer did end runs to the provost; circumventing proper decision makers; raising faculty morale; and improving the relationship between academia and the university's fundraising arm.
"Getting to a point and saying 'A-ha, we're finished' is unlikely," LeBel said of changing the decision-making culture, but it appears equally true of the other priorities.
However, there are key indicators.
For example, LeBel said, faculty and staff better understand their role in the decision-making process. When Kelley called upon the campus to take part in a conversation about the future of UND, LeBel said, he was heartened to see that, as the conversations continued, more and more people came to the table with more and better ideas. "If there's bad morale," he said, "there are lots of reasons not to come out for the work that was done."
That's a big change, he said, from when he chaired the presidential search committee that ultimately recommended Kelley to be hired. "I was distressed to see how undervalued people felt about the contributions they were making," he said.
As for the relationship between academics and fundraisers, he said, he's seeing the two sides talk more, with the academic side identifying both needs and prospective donors who can help with those needs. Academic leaders and senior fundraisers, he said, are making more visits, together, with donors.
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