UND's new Provost aims for 'next level'
Entrepreneurship is one of the broad goals UND's new provost hopes to focus on as he settles into his role as second in command at the university. With the walls in his office still bare, Thomas DiLorenzo touched on several topics last week he ho...
Entrepreneurship is one of the broad goals UND's new provost hopes to focus on as he settles into his role as second in command at the university.
With the walls in his office still bare, Thomas DiLorenzo touched on several topics last week he hopes will help plans to strengthen the university. Unifying faculty across disciplines, supporting more research and bolstering the skills behind a liberal arts education have all been on his mind, he said.
"I want people to know I'm excited," he said. "UND is on the rise. ... You want to go someplace where you can take it to the next level."
DiLorenzo replaces Paul LeBel, who served as provost and vice president for academic affairs since 2009.
DiLorenzo's ideas for the future rest on the concept of drawing people together, one pillar of the university's strategic plan.
"You pull people together from different disciplines, they sit in the same room and talk to each other and explore new ways of thinking," he said. "You want to find places and people and themes to bring people together across campus."
His role as provost and vice president for academic affairs will help, as he is charged with overseeing each of the university's deans, faculty affairs, faculty development and curricular issues. Interdisciplinary research and teaching may also play a bigger role at UND because that's where the grants will be in the future, he said.
"It's bringing people together -- psychologists and sociologists and medicine and law and public policy," he said. "That's where the exciting research is going to be."
Entrepreneurship is also important to DiLorenzo, who previously served as the associate vice president for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship at the University of Alabama before arriving at UND. He also spent two years there as its founding dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, overseeing 22 departments and an operating budget of more than $90 million.
UND already has the elements necessary for innovation, he said. Now, it's a matter of bringing everything together to study how to move ideas into commercialization, as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has done, he said.
"That (direction is) where I truly believe the next generation of research universities are going, but we haven't quite gotten there yet," he said. "I'd really like to spend a lot of time plugging folks into that continuum and figuring out how we move along."
DiLorenzo said he also wants to focus on student success at UND.
At the University of Alabama, DiLorenzo created several initiatives including an honors college, an advising center and an office that managed student research, scholarship and service learning. At UND, he wants to tap into student needs and prepare them for the future, he said.
"Fifty percent of our students who graduate now will be in jobs that currently don't exist," he said. "We need to prepare students to think in certain ways, and in creative ways, for jobs that just aren't here."
He also wants to broaden and further develop UND's liberal arts program. Building the skills of undergraduate humanities students is important because they will be the "entrepreneurs of the future" who can think inductively and creatively, he said.
"Many students are coming to our colleges and universities saying, 'Can I bring my company with me?'" he said. "So, we have to be sensitive to that innovative spirit, and I think the liberal arts does that well."
DiLorenzo, who has also worked at the University of Delaware and the University of Missouri, said he's been impressed with the students he's met at UND. He also wants to meet the greater community to understand their needs and where they see their own future, he said.
"I would love to link with other universities or the Legislature or various folks in town," he said. "How do we work together to make things happen?"
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