UND President Robert Kelley's State of University address
Thank you, Ryan. And thank you for your leadership this year as Chair of the University Senate. As we have discussed, collaborative governance is central to a successful research university, and the role that UND's faculty and staff must play in ...
Thank you, Ryan.
And thank you for your leadership this year as Chair of the University Senate. As we have discussed, collaborative governance is central to a successful research university, and the role that UND's faculty and staff must play in making UND a vibrant institution is paramount.
Thanks to all of you for attending this University Council meeting and this annual State of the University address.
We have a lot to talk about today. Much has changed since the last State of the University address. One such change has been the historic shift in the way institutions in the North Dakota University System will be funded by the State of North Dakota. In addition, there are new faces in the Office of the Provost and among UND's deans. And it has become increasingly clear that the university...all of us...will be evaluated more and more by institutional stakeholders on our collective performance as an institution.
In general, these changes are both desirable and welcome...and they present both opportunities and challenges to the university. I believe that, using the guidelines of Exceptional UND, we are ready to accept the challenges and opportunities inherent in:
Enriching the Student Experience
Expanding UND's Presence
Enhancing the Quality of Life
As you know, this year the University completed a comprehensive and thorough self-study as part of the Higher Learning Commission's ten-year reaccreditation. Just a few weeks ago we had our site visit. For three days, a five-member team examined the campus to learn what they could about UND and to validate what they had read in our self-study. By all accounts, it was a successful visit. The site team members complimented the University on the thoroughness of the self-study, on the campus and community awareness of the importance of their visit, and on the many strengths of the University. I was pleased to hear that many of the comments made to the HLC team members were connected to the Exceptional UND roadmap.
As always, the team members were limited by HLC policy in their comments about their visit. We will receive a final report sometime this spring. Until then, we can take pride in all the hard work that went into the self-study process and the HLC site visit, and use what we have learned to continue UND's progress.
Many people - more than 150 -- played important roles in this process. There are three whom I'd like to single out. They spent the past three years living the entire process and guiding it with skillful leadership: Joan Hawthorne, Patrick O'Neill, and Donna Pearson.
If you haven't yet read the 306-page self-study or the executive summary, you can find a link to them on the Provost's web page. By the way, we can all take some satisfaction in the fact that UND is one of the first universities to file a self-study report and supporting documents entirely online - no hard copies. When you read the report, you will find that while we do many things exceptionally well, there are still some other things that require more attention.
UND can also be proud of what has been accomplished over the past few years through the Exceptional UND initiative. But let me be clear. All of us...all of us...at UND have a great deal of work ahead of us to meet the challenges and opportunities that confront the university. I am confident that we will succeed because I believe that faculty, staff and students care about the university, and are willing to work on the priorities that will get UND where it needs to go.
I want to continue to emphasize that we must do our work on behalf of the university together. All of us need to be part of the journey that moves us from great to exceptional.
Since this is a State of the University address, it is traditional to comment on institutional strengths and achievements. There is a great deal that I can say about UND in this regard. All of us know about our programs that have achieved national recognition. I could spend hours talking about students and faculty in all of UND's schools and colleges who continue to achieve at national and international levels. But there are some new rising stars appearing on campus. A few evenings ago, Marcia and I attended the opening night performance of "A Chorus Line." Kudos to all the faculty, staff and students in the Department of Theatre Arts and the faculty and students from the Department of Music who produced an excellent show...Emily Cherry, Alison Angelone, Loren Liepold, Emily Wirkus, and all the members of "the line" and the orchestra. Terrific performance! And speaking of music, I want to compliment director Rob Brooks and the student members of the Pride of the North... and all the ensembles in the department of music...for their continued dedication to being musical ambassadors for UND. The same goes for the students who dedicate time and energy to the several cheer and dance teams that complement UND athletic events. It's all too easy to take these efforts for granted. So thanks to all of you for helping make an Exceptional UND.
But I would also like to look ahead and comment on some of the challenges that UND will engage in the immediate near term. To do that, I want to take a few minutes to share with you some issues that directly relate to UND's mission...advanced teaching and learning. It is important that we review the university's relationships with stakeholders, including state government; say a few words about the institution's financial condition; review briefly the planning for the facilities needed to assure growth in academic programs and student success in those programs; comment on enrollment and the management of enrollment; and some of the developments that will strategically assure student success in the academic and research programs at UND.
On a statewide level, UND has excellent relationships with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government. UND's School of Law recently hosted the annual visit of the North Dakota Supreme Court. We also enjoy productive relationships with our Congressional Delegation, and with our State Board of Higher Education and the North Dakota University System. We work very closely with Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen, who is providing clear, goal-oriented leadership. I was pleased to join him last month during an editorial board meeting at the Grand Forks Herald. Chancellor Skogen continues to build an open, collaborative relationship with the presidents of the campuses in the NDUS and with all constituents of the NDUS.
The positive, productive relationship that UND enjoys with state government is directly responsible for significant appropriations from the last legislative session that supported workforce initiatives in both the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the UND School of Law. Both schools have capital construction in the architectural and engineering planning phases, and the campus should see groundbreaking on both building projects within the coming year.
In addition, on Friday, UND will host the North Dakota University System for the grand opening of the Joint UND/NDUS IT building on the west side of campus. Please join legislators, the SBHE and the Chancellor for this event, Friday at 9:00 AM, and participate in a tour of the new facility.
Budget and revenues:
All in all, the University of North Dakota is in strong financial shape.
The Higher Learning Commission Composite Financial Indicator reflects institutional financial strength; fiscal reserves; and bond ratings. UND earned a score that did not require any additional review of UND's financial position during the recent site visit, a data point that will be reviewed on Thursday by the SBHE.
In addition, UND continues to administer revenues from multiple sources...state appropriations, tuition and fees, grants and contracts and auxiliary businesses... that continue to benefit the institution. As an example, UND has continued to use revenues from all sources to provide SBHE approved increases in compensation for faculty and staff (4.5% across the board going into FYI 2013-2014). These increases have permitted UND to continue to close the variance between UND and AAUP average faculty salaries by rank for every year since the 2002-2003 AY.
Furthermore, as you undoubtedly know, the UND Alumni Association Foundation completed the public phase of the Spirit Campaign with pledges exceeding $324 million. We know that not all of these gifts are in the bank yet, ready to produce immediate results for UND. But, with careful stewardship, over time, this endowment will grow...and will benefit students, faculty, academic programs and facilities for years to come.
An important part of a research university's funding comes from grants and contracts. UND has, in the past, earned about a fourth of its operating revenue from its research enterprise. However, nationally, grant funding has been negatively impacted by reductions in congressional investments in R&D and the budget sequester. Overall, UND, along with other national research universities, has experienced a downturn in the number and amount of research awards to the institution. But there have been some increases that I am pleased to relate. For example, this was the most successful year ever for research awards received by the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The school recently was awarded UND's second COBRE grant in epigenetics to complement a similar grant in neuroscience. The new award is for $10.5 million and includes collaborations with scientists from multiple departments across the campus. I might add that this has been a highly successful recruiting period for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, with 28 faculty members added in two years. The new Master of Public Health program, a collaboration with UND's sister institution, NDSU, continues to flourish and is building more collaborative partnerships across the campus, especially within the College of Business and Public Administration.
Overall, however, we are down significantly in grant support. We need to do better in this arena. To that end -- to build our research, innovation, economic and workforce development capabilities, I am directing Provost Tom DiLorenzo to begin the process of working with staff in the office of research and economic development, deans, chairs, and faculty to define and prioritize our initiatives, degrees, certificates and programs that have greatest immediate impact on the UND's research enterprise.
Although UND is financially sound, expert consultants have advised us that we should consider some revisions regarding management of the institution's fiscal resources. Our historical method of budgeting does not follow the fiscal practices of some other higher-performing universities. To this end, I have charged Vice President Brekke and the Provost to examine UND's budgeting practices toward the goal of increased efficiency and flexibility for program growth and enhancement. For example, UND needs to make better use of fiscal analytics. And UND must make more strategic allocations of resources to strengthen academic and research programs.
On the Master Planning front, UND also has some work to do. The North Dakota Legislature provided $1 million to the North Dakota University System to put a master plan in place. The University System recently hired Rick Tonder, who has been our associate director of facilities planning for several years, to head up this planning initiative. In this new role, Rick will be an asset to UND, since he knows the institution and its potential very well.
As for our campus, we have completed the first phase of a space utilization study, which focused on instructional space. The information provided in the study will augment a separate Campus Master Plan Study that is intended to be undertaken in the near future. As with many campuses, student success and spaces for collaboration are limited. Clearly, the task ahead for UND is to find ways to integrate available space into learning environments that support student-to-student and student-to-faculty collaboration.
The next phase for space planning will be connecting the data to growth of academic programs...put differently, these data are needed to understand how best to serve students in classrooms, laboratories, seminar rooms, and interactive learning spaces...and to connect these facilities with the faculty and staff resources needed to enhance academic programs that reflect a constantly changing institution. Clearly, space and facilities planning will be conducted in tandem with the enrollment management strategies that I will discuss in just a moment.
To digress a little, I believe that UND should acknowledge some recent successes in our capital construction activities. Last week, we celebrated the official receipt of a Platinum LEED designation for the Gorecki Alumni Center. A brilliant example of energy-efficiency, sustainability and green practices at work, the Gorecki Alumni Center is the first Platinum-level building in the North Dakota University System, and the first such alumni center in the world. It has become one of UND's go-to places for meetings, receptions, and other gatherings. UND continues its leadership in energy and environmental sustainability...we bleed green in many ways.
And in September, we broke ground on the new UND Athletics High Performance Center, an indoor practice and competition facility. Altru Health System provided the $9 million leadership gift, with SCHEELS providing $1 million. In the words of UND Athletics Director Brian Faison, this new facility - with a 100-yard artificial turf field, a 300-meter, eight-lane track, spectator seating, and eventually a state-of-the-art academic center -- will be "a game-changer." UND thanks everyone who continues to support UND athletics and the facilities required for student athletes to compete at the D-1 level.
And earlier this year, the 2013 North Dakota Legislature approved funding for a new $122 million, four-story building for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the largest state-funded construction project since North Dakota first became a state in 1889. The new building will provide a striking visual presence for the Gateway Blvd. entrance to the campus, and will be transformational as the School continues to excel in its focus on health workforce development for all North Dakotans. The Legislature also appropriated $11.4 million for an addition and renovation to North Dakota's only School of Law facility. The school continues its focus on preparing practice-ready attorneys who are needed in the state. Both projects are on track, and we're looking forward to breaking ground next year.
And soon we will begin work on a major renovation to the Wilkerson Hall Dining Center. Also on the horizon: a Collaborative Energy Complex in the College of Engineering and Mines. Already much of the funding has been secured for this important facility, but more gifts will be needed to get a shovel in the ground, and thereby provide the experience that students need, and that will be expected, by the energy industry of UND's graduates.
Oh...and I have to mention this...the bridge over the English Coulee should be finished before Christmas. Yes... 2013.
But as important as all of these capital projects are, they are only part of our primary focus, which is on the students who are UND's primary reason for being. We have to make "Enhancing the student experience" the beat behind UND's daily rhythms. We have to constantly re-think what we are doing and how we are doing it. - and, again, I emphasize that this is the responsibility of all of us; we must all address the many issues that are part of enhancing the student experience.
So to this end, I want to continue my remarks this afternoon by defining some of the plans that UND is making to enhance the student experience.
Enrollment Management and the student Experience:
UND is administering its second-largest enrollment ever - 15,143 students, which includes a significant increase in the number of graduate students and the planned-for increase in students through the Health Care Workforce Initiative, funded by the North Dakota Legislature. Two programs which have received a great deal of media attention the past few years continue to see outstanding growth - the Petroleum Engineering program and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. Others programs are also doing well. I will mention UND's distance education program as one example.
However, to support the SBHE initiative, "Pathways to Student Success," we need to focus on creating a university environment ...a culture...of student success, and that means we need to admit students who are prepared to succeed. For many reasons, this is the right time for us to strengthen our admissions standards and to place focused attention on Strategic Enrollment Management...in recruiting and working to retain highly-prepared students who will reach their educational goals as efficiently as possible and to their benefit.
This is the right approach. Students will benefit from being in educational settings with other high-achieving students who are focused on reaching their educational goals. Well-prepared students will be better able to effectively manage their progress toward completing their degree programs, which will mean a decreased debt load for many.
Faculty will also benefit from working with goal-oriented students.
And the university will benefit in several ways, including having students and graduates who perform well on multiple national measures, such as the GRE, admissions tests to professional schools, and professional licensure examinations.
In addition, UND must enhance the academic quality behind the student experience while keeping costs under tight control. Clearly, it is to the benefit of the university, and to the economies of our state, to graduate the best informed citizens possible, but with as little debt as possible.
I want to address another important reason for working toward enhanced student success. During the last session, the North Dakota Legislature enacted a major change in the funding mechanism for determining state support for higher education. Fiscal resources will now be appropriated based on a funding model that provides a weighted dollar amount per completed student credit hour. This process uses only completed student credit hours, as measured at the end of each biennium. The model also includes rewards to institutions for students' progress towards graduation/completion. So it is clear that not only is UND's funding dependent on the success of its students, but it also challenges all of us to achieve these goals while continuously increasing the quality of education being provided at the institution.
Addressing some of the issues I've just outlined, you are going to see several new initiatives on campus. One is already in place - the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee. Chaired by Vice presidents Tom DiLorenzo and Lori Reesor, this Committee includes other vice presidents, deans, student leaders, and University Council President Zerr.
I have charged this group with the development of strategies that address enrollment goals across all of the academic programs of the university -- undergraduate, graduate, and professional.
This committee is already hard at work on areas such as creating a common course scheduling system, an early alert system, and reducing the time to graduation by streamlining the process of completing graduation requirements.
One of the tools that will help us in this work: iDashboards. UND has already developed 60 of these compact ways to visually display and analyze key performance metrics. I want to demonstrate a couple of these iDashboards so you can see how readily they can be used for academic advising, tracking academic records...and perhaps of greatest usefulness, a ready analytical means to track what the institution is doing and how well the institution is serving its students.
In the coming weeks, you will be asked to participate in creating new initiatives in recruiting, marketing, and retention. Retention, by the way, doesn't mean making courses easier -- It means helping students succeed. Faculty and staff all need to play a role in understanding and implementing best practices influencing student retention and graduation rates. To this end, UND is creating an Online Catalog that will provide students with real-time information on their course progress and course availability. The Online Catalog will also help students with degree planning. In addition, UND is creating software programs to identify "at-risk" students so that advisors can intervene early and keep students in school. And I've charged the Provost with finding even more innovative ways to adapt advanced technologies...like MOOCs...to assist students in their progress through their degree coursework.
In addition, we also are working to eliminate what students have long called the "Twamley Shuffle" -- that seemingly-endless journey through a maze of offices in the Administration Building. The university is working on the development of a student services center...aka the "One Stop Shop"... where staff members using both physical and virtual tools, like the iDashboards, will assist students with any questions that they may have. We are preparing staff to handle questions related to, Financial Aid, Parking, transcripts and other functions of the Registrar's Office, Student Account Services -- virtually anything that touches the student experience at UND. The purpose is to assure success of the student and to achieve that student's degree completion at the university.
What excites me about the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee is the role of the Provost and other academic leaders. For many decades in higher education, the operating approach was that student affairs staff were responsible for attracting students to the University; and faculty in the academic affairs portfolio were responsible for teaching them. The reality is that we ALL have a role to play in all aspects of the University. Such compartmentalization is incompatible with successful collaboration within a highly functioning university.
So, in summary, UND is taking a fresh look at everything that we do to assure student success. We are looking at how best to construct our academic programs? How do we advance our strengths? How do we work together to resolve issues so we can move forward? How do we ensure that we are providing incentives for creative and innovative thinking? Many of our marquee programs emerged from imagination and entrepreneurial thinking.
And how do we make sure we make diversity and inclusion part of our thinking? I'm happy to report that we are advertising a new position, an Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. We must to find ways to make multicultural diversity and inclusiveness a part of our institutional DNA.
So in closing, it is clear that we have a great deal of work to do to fulfill the promise of Exceptional UND. But I am confident we can succeed with that work. We have a strong, collegial leadership team in place, including deans and department chairs; and the institution is enjoying some of the most productive academic faculty and staff in institutional history. UND has identified its "Exceptional UND" priorities and is making excellent progress in achieving them. We continue to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial in the strategies we use to approach both challenges and, more importantly, opportunities. North Dakota is in excellent financial shape, and so is the University. We are able to provide outstanding educational opportunities and services for all of our students, thanks to a thoughtful, dedicated, forward-looking faculty and staff.
So, in all ways that will assure success... together, we ARE building an "Exceptional UND."
Thank you for all that you do for the University of North Dakota.