Halgren takes the helm

Cara Halgren has interim tag removed as she follows a calling to become new permanent VP for Student Affairs and Diversity

Cara Halgren

Cara Hagren, an alum who had been serving as interim UND Vice President for Student Affairs and Diversity, recently had the interim tag removed by President Mark Kennedy and now holds the position permanently. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

Cara Halgren is now the permanent vice president for student affairs and diversity.

President Kennedy appointed her to the position, which she has held on an interim basis since May, this week.

“This is a calling for me,” said Halgren. “It’s an incredible opportunity, and I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of people who are my mentors.”

Halgren has always had a non-traditional career path, and said that has given her a better understanding of the students she serves.

“My career path and experience give me a greater sense of empathy when working with students,” Halgren said. “This is a way to help students and their parents at a very important time of their lives. That’s a privilege, and an awesome responsibility.”

Road less traveled

Halgren earned her undergraduate degree in English from UND in 1989.

She was active on campus, served as president of Fulton Hall, worked as a resident assistant (RA) and took part in ARH, UND’s residence hall governing body.

After graduation, she taught high school English.

While many students change majors during their college career, Halgren said she changed hers after graduation, moving from teaching English to student affairs.

“I found myself going back to housing and a college campus,” Halgren said. “That choice opened the door for everything else, and everything fell into place.”

She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Troy University in 1994 and her doctorate in education from the University of St. Thomas in 2006.

Halgren has been working with students ever since.

She served as director of the office of campus life and other positions at the University of St. Thomas, as a residence hall director at Bemidji State University and the director of residence life at Salem-Teikyo University in West Virginia.

Invested in UND

Halgren returned to UND in 2006 to take a position as associate dean of student life and director of judicial affairs and crisis programs, and was later promoted to dean of students and associate vice president for student affairs.

Halgren, who grew up in Elk River, Minn., said UND and Grand Forks are home.

“I have known UND as my second home since I was 18,” Halgren said. “UND and Grand Forks have always had a connection to me, and I call this home. I had the privilege of having an incredible education at UND, and I chose to be here not only for the opportunity to give back, but the responsibility to give back to people who supported me.

“I’m invested in UND,” Halgren continued. “What motivates me is that this is my home, my place.”

Halgren describes herself as having more of a teaching style than a student affairs style, and said she will focus on implementing the strategic plan.

“My work is about supporting the plan and making sure we’re achieving those goals. This is a great path for UND, and I’m excited to be part of the plan and so closely involved.”

And she will continue to focus on students.

“What I like most about being here is the students,” Halgren said. “UND has great students. They are thoughtful, smart, funny and engaged. I love that part of my job, and to experience things through their eyes.”