‘Stepping up’ to meet needs

Second UND budget forum sets tone of shared sacrifice and commitment to University vision

Tom DiLorenzo

Provost Tom DiLorenzo leads the discussion at the second campus budget forum, held on March 1. Photo by Richard Larson.

More questions meant more seats filled at the second UND budget forum held in the Education Building on March 1.

Dozens from the campus community joined UND President Mark Kennedy and UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tom DiLorenzo as they worked through questions of investment and priorities. One theme connected many discussion points—working as One UND to create opportunities for those on campus and those across the state.

“Staff, students, faculty and administrators all working together is the best path for us,” President Kennedy told the crowd. “We’ll have as wonderful a University tomorrow as we have a wonderful University today.”

Small courses, big opportunities

The first question of the forum came from Jared Ridl of UND Housing, who explained he was a UND graduate who majored in Religion, History and Chinese Studies.

“I really love this school and the humanities in particular, but I’m a little worried,” Ridl said, expanding to describe his concern that low-enrolled classes would be eliminated based on enrollment alone—not on value. “There seems to be a lack of awareness about the public good that is served by offering those kinds of courses,” he added.

President Kennedy expounded the ways in which current classes—not just those in the humanities—are being examined. He said reviews would be more critical of courses that were hyper-specific and didn’t include any high-impact learning practices.

“want humanities students to learn about humanities in a way that instructors are reaching out and they’re teaching more broadly and appealing to broader audiences,” President Kennedy said.

“We want to create exciting courses that students are scrambling to take,” DiLorenzo said following the forum. “The fact that a course is low-enrolled may be an indication that students don’t fully understand what it is or connect with it. We want to have courses that match faculty interests to student interests.”

Paul Lindquist

Paul Lindseth, dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, makes a point as part of the discussion at the latest campus-wide budget forum on March 1. Photo by Richard Larson.

Pitching in

More students attended Wednesday’s forum than the last, and they came with questions of their own. Industrial Technology student Katie Mcphail said that current students are being “shafted” by the budget reductions.

“Instead of cutting teachers or cutting programs and classes, why aren’t you looking at the administration?” Mcphail asked.

It was noted in response that President Kennedy previously announced a more than 20% reduction in the number of executive officers in his administration. The conversation continued to dispel the idea of “administrative bloat” at the University, and remind those present that administrative roles are necessary to support faculty and student success.

DiLorenzo assured Mcphail that it isn’t just the student body that will see impacts. “In my unit, 12 plus percent is being cut like in every area of the University, so it’s not excluding one area over another. We’re all taking these cuts,” he said.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Debbie Storrs expanded on that sentiment. “These are significant reductions, and I have said directly to students that there will be impacts. But what I want to point out is that our faculty are stepping up and are increasing their teaching loads or increasing their class sizes.” Storrs said. “I have faculty willing to do that, with a commitment to learning outcomes.”

More not less UND

Melissa Casanova with the UND Office of the Registrar wondered if there was an end in sight to budget reductions. “After this 12 percent, are we evened back out, or are we going to be having these same conversations again next year?” Casanova asked.

“It’s tough,” DiLorenzo responded. “If you would have asked me that question last year, I would have said I hope we never have to do this again. We live in a state that ebbs and flows, and if we don’t see the tax base going up, if we see continuing problems, then other things may have to happen.”

President Kennedy added that he and his team are doing all they can to explain to legislators that UND can help North Dakota avoid budget woes in the future by moving beyond reliance on oil and agriculture and diversifying the economy.

“I’ve told the legislators and I’ll tell them again—at a time like this you want more UND, not less UND,” he said. “You want more investment in the research we’re providing.”

Continuing conversation

Provost DiLorenzo encourages anyone who has suggested opportunities or ideas to come visit with during his office hours (Wednesdays, noon-2:00 p.m.), or to email him at thomas.dilorenzo@UND.edu.

The Budget Fora will continue on Wednesday, March 8 from 3-4 p.m. in Education Building Room 7, where they will continue to be held through the semester. Additional fora will be held on the following dates from 3-4 p.m.:

Monday
March 20

Wednesdays
March 29
April 5,12,19
May 3

For more budget-related communications, click on the Budget tab of the UND Today homepage.

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