OUR OPINION: Unique school at UND needs unique dean
A great strength of UND is its ability to take multiple entities with varying missions and structures, and to house them under one roof. So, besides schools such as the College of Arts and Sciences--where students can get a traditional liberal ar...
A great strength of UND is its ability to take multiple entities with varying missions and structures, and to house them under one roof.
So, besides schools such as the College of Arts and Sciences-where students can get a traditional liberal arts education-there's also the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, where professional training focuses on aviation fields, as well as the Energy and Environmental Research Center, which is heavy on research but offers few classes at all.
Now, the university is filling the position of the Odegard School's dean.
And in our view, it's vital for UND's president and provost to not only recognize but also maintain the school's unique status, structure and independence.
One of academia's toughest jobs is to balance academic credentials vs. practical experience in hiring. The Odegard School succeeds at this better than most. Consider the background of the current dean, Bruce Smith; he holds a doctoral degree, boasts a high-level background in the private sector-Smith served as Delta Airlines' director of training- and also spent eight years as a flight instructor at the Air Force Academy.
That's exactly the right mix for the pilot of America's leading professional aviation school. Similarly, many Odegard School faculty also have extensive private-sector as well as academic backgrounds. Military and corporate experience may not count for much in many academic fields; but in aviation, they're vital, and the Odegard School's open recognition of this has played a huge role in winning its sterling reputation in the industry.
This unique structure likely results in unorthodox rules on tenure and other academic practices. But the point is, at the Odegard School, those policies work. The school graduates skilled and sought-after practitioners but also conducts state-of-the-art research, as its NASA and unmanned aerial vehicle projects show.
That's a huge accomplishment, one that spans a number of challenging fields. And for UND's administration and search team, Job 1 should be finding a dean who can keep that big, beautiful machine in the air.
-- Tom Dennis for the Herald