UND among Top 25 Leaders in Innovation

University surges in 2018 ‘Best Colleges’ rankings, joining elite company such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT

U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings for 2018

UND landed on the 2018 U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top 25 Most Innovative Schools, placing it with the likes of other innovation powerhouses such as Harvard, Stanford, Cal-Tech, Chicago, Duke, MIT and Yale.

Many of the University of North Dakota’s streets carry the names of well-known national universities – Stanford Road, Harvard Street and Berkeley Drive, to name a few. They’ve always been reminders of the caliber of institution UND aspires to match.

Now UND has come to a new crossroads – and has joined those schools on the route of innovation.best-colleges-most-innovative resize

UND landed on the 2018 U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top 25 Most Innovative Schools, placing it in the company of those very colleges – Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley – and other innovation powerhouses like Cal-Tech, Chicago, Duke, MIT and Yale.

“Being included amongst the ranks of these universities rewards the hard work of all that raised our banner high,” said UND President Mark Kennedy. “It’s gratifying to see the innovative spirit of UND’s faculty and staff being recognized.”

The University scooped up other notable positions in several of U.S. News & World Report’s recently released rankings:

Leaning forward

Mark Kennedy

University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy

For three years, U.S. News has surveyed college presidents, provosts and admissions deans, asking them to nominate the institutions they believe are making the most cutting-edge changes.

This was the first time UND gathered enough peer recognition to land in the top 25.

“To have other academic presidents and provosts elevate UND to the ranks of the nation’s 25 finest universities in innovation means that they have heard of the many advances springing forth from the ‘lean forward into the future’ attitude that permeates our campus culture,” President Kennedy said.

Nominations were based on innovations in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities. A look around the UND campus reveals that the honor is well-earned.

Online development

As a part of the One UND Strategic Plan, the University is driving efforts to create more opportunities for online learning, building on an already strong reputation for online programs.

The project manager in charge of this goal, UND Psychology Chair Jeff Holm, said his team has offered forums, best practices support, and other assistance to faculty to help develop these courses and programs – and they’ve embraced the challenge.

“We’re looking for a way to separate ourselves from other universities out there,” Holm said. “We have every intention of being better two years from now than we are today.”

UAS education & research

Tom DiLorenzo

UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo

UND has become a national leader in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), finding new ways to collaborate with industry and create a leading-edge experience for students.

In the last year alone, UND pioneered the collaborative Research Institute for Autonomous Systems (RIAS) and became the first school to have its UAS degree program accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International under newly established UAS criteria. UAS has quickly ignited interdisciplinary partnerships all over campus.

Active learning

UND is reimagining spaces on campus to fit the active learning styles of a new generation.

This fall, the math department welcomed students into the new Math Active Learning Lab (MALL), and the Department of Communication began using its technology-forward DigiComm lab – both spaces that use innovative curricula developed by UND faculty.

“We’ve been looking to upgrade the teaching spaces for the past few years with technology, so those areas have been important pieces,” UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo said. “We’re also creating innovation labs in new spaces throughout the University.”

Entrepreneurial drive

UND is driving business innovation in North Dakota.

The UND Center for Innovation has helped regional business owners give life to their ideas, sparking an accelerated rate of new companies in the area and beyond. The Center supports startups through business coaching and collaboration, and fosters learning experiences for UND students.

“People are looking at our cutting-edge programs, such as the Center for Innovation and Dakota Venture Group – the only student-managed investment group in the nation,” said Laurie Betting, interim director of the Center and senior advisor to President Kennedy. “We are continuing to build on these successes.”

Health and wellness

UND leads the pack in finding innovative ways to ensure the physical and mental health of its students, faculty and staff.

Wellness Center and Health & Wellness promotion programs continue to garner national recognitions. UND was also one of the first higher education institutions to become a member of CEO Cancer Gold Standard, with workplace initiatives focused on cancer risk reduction and early detection.

Open educational resources

UND has turned classroom innovation into student savings by embracing the implementation of open educational resources (OER).

These free digital resources will have the potential to save students nearly $4 million in textbook costs over just three years. As more faculty incorporate OER, the savings will grow.

Betting said that these recognitions are a wonderful acknowledgement, adding that although North Dakotans aren’t known for boasting, it’s a great opportunity to highlight UND’s excellence.

“The pursuit of our One UND Strategic Plan to continue to be a premier flagship will drive our innovation in response to the needs of students, the citizens of North Dakota, business and global enterprise,” she said, “all as we teach, discover and engage as leaders in action.”

-UND Staff Writer Jan Orvik contributed to this report