UND’s newest agents of passion

Chief communicator Meloney Linder,  Finance VP Jed Shivers and Athletics’ Bill Chaves settle in on the fly

Meloney Linder

Meloney Linder, vice president for marketing & communications, comes to UND from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she served as the chief communication officer for Wisconsin’s School of Business. She is a native of Fergus Falls, Minn. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

Gushing about the campus-wide passion for the University of North Dakota one early Friday morning, Meloney Linder channeled it herself, subtly but discernibly.

Mere seven weeks into her role as vice president for marketing & communications, she not only talked about the ardor for the University’s mission — she also wore it – a Kelly-green blouse embossed with the UND logo above her heart.

“People really want to do great work for this institution,” she said. “That gets me really excited. There is a deep commitment and love for UND.”

Although she’s been living and working in the community for a few weeks, she got a chance to formally greet her new friends and colleagues at UND during an Oct. 24 reception in Memorial Union. New UND Athletics Director Bill Chaves and Vice President for Finance & Operations/ Chief Operating Officer Jed Shivers also received their official UND welcome at the occasion.

Linder: UND is a great story to tell

The reception constituted another engagement in Linder’s hectic schedule that seems devoid of quiet minutes.

And that’s how she prefers it.

“There is so much to do and so there is never a dull moment — which is fantastic,” Linder said.

Her cheery personality, quick wits and smile quickly puts others at ease. There’s a sense that work comes easy to her, and that piled-up responsibilities cheer her rather than saddle her.

Her interpersonal knack developed early, leading to a degree in mass communications with a focus on public relations.

“I really like working with people,” Linder said. “I like the idea of trying to advance a cause.”

In universities, she’s found causes worth embracing. But that was after she’d already amassed 16 years in the private sector, where she last worked for an IT firm that served K12 school districts.

The path to a university career was enhanced by having a husband, Eric Linder, working as a professor.

In UND, Meloney Linder sees “a great story to tell.”

After stops along the way at the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Linder, a native of Fergus Falls, Minn., brought her expertise back home.

“I really believe  we have so many opportunities to do really great work,” she said. “The work that has been done to date has given us a solid foundation from which to build.”

For now, Linder is listening to UND stakeholders and, together with her team, is beginning to chart strategies for the next few years.

Mark Kennedy and Bill Chaves

UND President Mark Kennedy (left) introduces UND’s newest Director of Athetics, Bill Chaves, at a public gathering and celebration last January at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

Chaves: It is about our student athletes

Fellow newcomer Bill Chaves, UND’s athletics director who took over in March, is doing the same – and he has a fitting metaphor for it.

“You have to go around the track once,” he said. “And I haven’t been around the track once, which would be a full year.”

Chaves may be securing his grip on the fine details of his department and institution, but he has a proven approach to success. It’s not his advancement he’s focused on – rather it’s that of the people he serves.

“I always go through a prism – is it good for our student athletes, is it good for our department, is it good for the University, is it good for the State,” he says.

These four pillars prop his decisions, which nowadays affect teams vying in three separate conference affiliations under the NCAA. Most of UND’s teams compete in the Summit League, hockey is in the powerhouse National Collegiate Hockey Conference, while football is transitioning from the Big Sky Conference to Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020.

“You are actually in three different worlds and you are having to navigate and juggle those balls,” Chaves said. “Nothing is boring. I normally don’t have a boring day.”

Having served student-athletes at six universities before UND, Chaves passion for sports – and those who excel in them – stems from his childhood.

Back then, a friend played hockey and his talent eventually took him to the NHL and the U.S. Olympic team. As much as he wished for a similar experiences, Chaves knew he did not possess the same skill. So, he had another plan for himself.

“Even from an early age, I wanted to be a college athletics director,” he said. “I don’t even know if I knew what a college athletics director did, but I knew I wanted to get into intercollegiate athletics.”

Jed Shivers

Vice President for Finance & Operations and Chief Operating Officer Jed Shivers shares a newcomer’s perspective on the University at the last Provost’s Forum. Shivers recently completed his fifth month on the job. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Jed Shivers: engagement that shines

Like Chaves, Jed Shivers, UND’s new vice president for finance and operations and COO, strives to actualize aspirations – those of students and faculty and administrators and the community at large.

In his sixth month at UND, he lends his talent with numbers and figures to the University’s goal of strategic growth and meaningful impact against an ever changing higher-education landscape.

And like Linder, Shivers revels in commitment to this objective, which permeates the campus, from classrooms to executive offices.

“Working with all the good people here has been really impressive,” Shivers said. “There are just a lot of dedicated, competent people. In some ways, that is the most important thing.”

A transplant from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he served as associate dean for finance and administration for over a decade, Shivers’ dedication to UND reflects off that of President Mark Kennedy.

“The president imparts a sense of urgency in terms where he thinks the University needs to go and so that creates excitement,” he said. “Every day I wake up and say, ‘Ok, what are we going get done.’”

Almost half a year into his tenure at UND, Shivers has already accomplished a lot – from finance oversight to policy development to engagement with external constituents.

Recently, his days have revolved around budget meetings with colleges and supporting units, at which he strives to interpret data in a manner that creates the framework of making good decisions.

“It is really about constantly furthering the strategy of the University,” he said.