Everyone recognizes the benefits of having students who are fully engaged in their educational journey. Faculty want their students to attend class, interact with each other in group activities, study and complete homework, write and rewrite papers, and generally be fully “engaged” in the process of learning. Staff want students to learn from their overall campus experiences, including student organizations, campus employment, and extracurricular activities, and to be supported by meaningful student success programs.

We also know that engaged students develop other traits that are markers of future success: connections with peers, leadership skills, and commitments to broader community organizations. Students who graduate and become engaged citizens have a positive impact on their entire communities.

UND already offers many engagement opportunities, including such recognized High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) as internships and co-ops, experiential and service learning, undergraduate research, study abroad, living-learning communities, student organizations, and student employment opportunities.

Recognition of the value of student engagement is why assessments like the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) are widely used by institutions to help understand their teaching and learning environments. UND most recently administered the NSSE in 2013. More recently, students joined in an evaluation of UND’s Essential Studies Program, and participated in the nationally administered Collegiate Learning Assessment, which seeks to measure educational “value added” by performance tasks and other learning outcomes during a student’s journey at UND from first to senior year.

These assessments attempt to capture information from students who are about to graduate with a UND degree. The results suggest our students are engaged in many meaningful learning opportunities—and at the same time, the data from student responses and learning outcomes show that more could be done university-wide to advance student engagement.

To help strengthen student engagement, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas DiLorenzo and Vice President for Student Affairs Lori Reesor, in consultation with University Senate, have formed the Engage UND Working Group. Comprised of faculty, staff, and students, this group will help to advance a distinctive educational environment at UND, in which students flourish both inside and outside the classroom, and graduate to become engaged community leaders.

The Engage UND Working Group will continue meeting this academic year to identify and provide additional information, guidance, and programmatic cohesiveness across the curriculum; to demonstrate the value added from each engagement opportunity; and to encourage meaningful student, faculty, and staff participation across curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular programs.

The Group’s Charge and Deliverables

The Engage UND Working Group is charged with finding the best ways to:

  • Enhance and enrich student engagement experiences at UND on campus, as well as within the Greater Grand Forks Community
  • Foster a campus teaching and learning culture emphasizing High-Impact Practices (HIPs) that encourage student engagement and success
  • Develop student engagement as a brand signature of an Exceptional UND education

To accomplish these objectives, the Engage UND Working Group will:

  • Inventory UND’s current student engagement opportunities, with a focus on HIPs
  • Determine what enhancements need to be made in line with national best practices and university priorities
  • Recommend initiatives and timelines to increase student participation; and
  • Develop methods to benchmark, quantify, and measure outcomes accordingly

The Group has been meeting since mid-fall and will continue throughout the spring, with outreach to the campus and Greater Grand Forks community for input, and continual progress reporting and recommendations provided to Provost DiLorenzo, Vice President Reesor, and the University Senate.

The Group’s Membership

Cassie Gerhardt, Student Affairs (co-chair)
Steve Light, Academic Affairs (co-chair)
Susan Felege, Biology
Connie Frazier, Housing & Dining
Neva Hendrickson, International Programs
Muneeb Hyder, Student
Brett Johnson, Student
Kathy Jones, Management
Sara Kaiser, Student Involvement & Leadership
Trista Kirchgesler, Student
Thyra Knapp, German Studies
Doug Munski, Center for Community Engagement, Geography
Ilene Odegard, Career Services
Allyssa Wall, Student/City of Grand Forks
Ryan Zerr, University Senate/Academic Affairs, Mathematics
Chris Zygarlicke, EERC
Michelle Hamilton, VPAA Office, administrative support


For more information, please feel free to contact Steve Light, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs or Cassie Gerhardt, Assistant Dean of Students & Interim Director, Memorial Union.