Building a better campus

Provost Forum features array of UND developments, short and long term plans for campus facilities

Provost Tom DiLorenzo brought in voices from teaching development, enrollment and facilities in the academic year’s final Provost Forum. Photo by Jackie Lorentz/UND Today.

Hosting his final open forum of the academic year, Provost Tom DiLorenzo wanted a variety of campus initiatives represented.

Starting with a look at teaching evaluations led by Lori Swinney of the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy (TTaDA), Janelle Kilgore talked enrollment outlooks for 2019; Karyn Plumm briefed attendees on student orientation changes; and Mike Pieper put ongoing and upcoming campus projects into perspective, including the reconstruction of University Avenue this year.

“There have been a number of things, really positive and exciting things, happening on campus,” DiLorenzo said.

Bigger picture

Swinney, a digital learning specialist with TTaDA, says a holistic evaluation to teaching brings in multiple dimensions of data and feedback while providing the best overall snapshot of one’s professional development. The concept encompasses self and peer evaluations, records of research and professional development, as well as factors such as course planning and grading.

Lori Swinney

The Student Evaluation of Learning and Feedback for Instructors (SELFI) is an increasingly important data point in this holistic endeavor.

“Improving SELFI scores has been a focus for the past two semesters,” Swinney said. “We increased the number of SELFIs submitted, but we’re continuing this effort. We have great resources about how you’re able to get students to use them, and use them effectively.”

Within SELFIs, students answer questions pertaining to the learning environment, engagement, graded materials and rapport with instructors.

At TTaDA, they’re also rolling out the UND Digital Badging Initiative. This recent trend in higher education puts skills, learning and experience on display. By attending a professional development activity, you can earn a badge. A badge can be upgraded by verifiably applying and sharing the skills one learns in such activities.

“Badging and authenticating work that students, faculty and staff do is part of the top ten key trends in higher education,” Swinney said, citing a national higher education technology report.

On-track enrollment

Kilgore showed that the quality of incoming students is an important trend in enrollment at UND, despite a dip in Fall 2018 headcount.

Janelle Kilgore

“As we continue to have steady enrollment, we are seeing increased quality,” the interim vice provost of strategic enrollment management said. “The biggest indicator for student academics is high school GPA. We want to make sure students coming in are successful in your classes and successful with progressing to graduation.”

Other highlights from Kilgore include UND being the first institution in the state to send out financial award letters and award packages to incoming freshman. Also, there has been a five percent increase in students from low-income families submitting enrollment deposits.

“My previous role was financial aid director and access is significant for me,” she said. “This increase represented a huge success, as we are creating more access to students.”

University stewards

With clean-cut goals for Fall 2019 numbers, Kilgore reminded the Provost Forum audience that they’re all recruiters for UND. She said it’s important to maintain positive interactions with students, and getting the word out whenever possible about the successes of UND.

She shared a tweet from someone who came to campus, with their family, for a tour. After locking their keys in their car, UND campus police were quickly on the scene to assist.

“This could have been a very bad day, and not because of anything at UND,” Kilgore said. “But because our fabulous police department came and unlocked their car, UND jumped up in their minds.”

Karyn Plumm

DiLorenzo was able to share his own experience of UND police helping him get unstuck from a snow drift, saying they regularly go above and beyond to make people feel safe and welcome on campus.

“I don’t think people understand how fantastic our police force is, and that tweet was a great example,” DiLorenzo said.

Plumm, in talking about freshman orientation, furthered the notion of UND faculty and staff as stewards of the University.

“We’ll have orientation groups on campus from June 10 through July 18, so if you’re on campus and see families, say hi, welcome people,” she said. “Make sure to have those positive interactions.”

The assistant vice provost for student success updated forum attendees on the location of orientation, which moved to Columbia Hall in the wake of the Memorial Union’s reconstruction starting this summer. Days will be college-specific, as students will visit on the basis of the programs they selected.

“We’ll make sure to update their major and adviser changes, everything, so when they leave they’ll have everything available in their Campus Connection and Starfish accounts,” Plumm said. “If they have questions, they can reach out to someone on campus over the summer.”

Groundbreaking work

The Coulee to Columbia Initiative is seeing major steps this summer, says Mike Pieper, associate vice president for facilities, with the reconstruction of University Avenue. The City of Grand Forks project will rework UND’s main drag from the English Coulee to Columbia Road. Pieper says a reconstructed University Avenue will provide 42 percent more efficiency to vehicle traffic during peak changes (people walking to and from class) and yield a 27 percent reduction in terms of safety conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians.

Mike Pieper

Mike Pieper

“The City is concerned about timing, as they got heat last year about 42nd Street’s reconstruction,” Pieper said on Thursday. “The difference between these projects is, this year, it is a complete shutdown and one phase. They’re predicting to have it open by move in day, this fall.”

He went on to characterize other “short term pains” involving other major projects happening over the summer.

The new steam plant construction, and its accompanying building infrastructure work, will create some strain in campus transit, Pieper says. Lane closures are to be expected this summer; the new plant is expected to be completed a year from now, in April 2020. The demolition of the old plant, soon after, will allow for expanded parking and a more direct flow of traffic through the south end of campus.

Other projects will be renovations to the Chester Fritz Library, including the relocation of UND’s IT department into the building and improving its general condition, and completing renovations to the Gershman Center.

“Our goal is to get it up and running before school, so it can be another place for students while the Union is down,” Pieper said of what was recently known as the J. Lloyd Stone Alumni Center, or the Oxford House.

On the topic of “what’s next,” Pieper had an exhaustive list on hand – exploring public-private partnerships with housing and mixed use buildings; a new College of Business & Public Administration; phase two of the High Performance Center; transitioning Babcock Hall into a big data hub and working with Aerospace on a new flight operations building.

This summer, the facilities team is hoping to have responses for a request for proposal on campus signage. Wayfinding, as a campus initiative, has been in the works for almost three years now. Pieper says the amount of movement around campus has created a lot of signage that isn’t consistent.

“It will be exciting to see,” DiLorenzo said of what’s to come from this summer’s projects. “The Coulee to Columbia concept is coming together. As parents and students are here for orientation, it’s important to give them a good impression.”