Scholarships, student services and Summer Orientation on Provost Forum agenda

Spring 2020 semester off to ‘great start,’ said Provost Tom DiLorenzo at wide-ranging January Provost Forum

Provost Tom DiLorenzo updated attendees on the latest happenings across campus and introduced presentations on national scholarships and changes to summer orientation for incoming students. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Fullbright, Boren, Udall, Goldwater, Gilman and Truman are the names that Yee Han Chu wants UND students of all stripes to recognize.

That’s because Chu is UND’s National Fellowship and Opportunities Coordinator, and the names are of scholarships and fellowships that Chu wants UND students to apply for.

In total, Chu has worked individually with at least 45 students to channel their ambitions into competitive applications for prestigious awards and learning opportunities.

“But it’s not me that they reach out to first,” said Chu to the audience at last week’s Provost Forum. It’s you: “It’s people they meet in the hallways, in the classrooms. It’s folks out on campus who will have that first contact with students.”

Chu came to the monthly forum to ask UND faculty and staff to help her spot students who have scholarship and fellowship potential.

Chu brought guests to Wednesday’s Provost Forum who spoke to their experiences applying for and earning high-level scholarships and fellowships. Chu asked faculty and staff for help identifying similarly gifted, passionate students. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Nurturing scholars

“If you have had a conversation with a student who is interested in more than just the grades they earn in your classroom, who’s actually into the substance of what you’re talking about, that person is a potential student who might be interested in this experience,” Chu said.

Chu didn’t come alone in her effort to make such a request. Kincaid Rowbotham, a student studying molecular and integrative biology, said going into the scholarship application process helped him hone in on what he wanted to do.

“When I was going into college, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I had no real sense of how to achieve it,” Rowbotham said.

It was applying for scholarships that brought him to the Department of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences and gave him the confidence to establish UND’s Biology Club.

For Michelle Nguyen, one of UND’s latest-featured Leaders in Action, applying for scholarships is what kept her at UND.

As told in her exceptional story in UND Today, Nguyen was one of 22 recipients of the Dream Award, which gave her a $10,000-a-year renewable scholarship. More than 7,000 students had applied nationwide.

“I’m not a Harvard kid,” said Nguyen at Wednesday’s open forum. “My parents aren’t doctors, they aren’t lawyers. But I had a dream, and I had the passion to be in school.

“There are so many opportunities for students, whether it’s studying abroad, staying here, or pursuing a Ph.D. Our big ask today is helping us make that possible.”

Nguyen exclaimed that she gets her energy and passion from faculty and staff and that most students greatly admire their professors, even if they don’t say it every day.

“You guys are awesome,” Nguyen jokingly whispered.

Nguyen expressed her admiration for the faculty and staff of UND, who help her not only stay in school, but excel. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

UND can compete

Tom DiLorenzo, provost and vice president of academic affairs, encouraged faculty and staff to direct students who see themselves in Rowbotham and Nguyen to a course established by Chu. The course tackles the challenges of pursuing national scholarships and provides more structure to what can be a daunting undertaking.

Fund Your Future: Nationally Competitive Scholarships is offered through the College of Arts & Sciences each semester.

“So we need your help in bringing students to us, and then the students will turn around and ask for help in preparing applications and the like,” DiLorenzo said.

“We have great students and they can compete against anyone,” he continued. “I think what we can offer is that opportunity for them to apply, advance and showcase who we are and what we do at UND.”

‘Great start’

Before Chu and her student guests got up to speak, DiLorenzo and Senior Vice Provost Debbie Storrs shared some updates. DiLorenzo said the University was off to a great start for its spring semester.

“Faculty are taking care of students getting into classes, and staff are helping them get signed up,” he said. “We just heard that One Stop Student Services helped around 450 students on Monday — close to one every minute.”

Debbie Storrs

Debbie Storrs

He updated attendees on incoming President Andrew Armacost’s intent to visit campus throughout the coming months, before taking the helm in June. DiLorenzo was also able to meet Gen. John Raymond, leader of the newly formed U.S. Space Force, during Raymond and Sen. Kevin Cramer’s visit on Jan. 10. Through meetings with college deans, progress has been made toward an average 2½ percent salary raise for next year, DiLorenzo said.

Storrs shared that there are ongoing conversations around potential renovations for Merrifield Hall.

“We’re preparing for the next legislative ask to include funding from the state to remodel Merrifield, which is a beautiful building,” Storrs said. “We are going to be working with [College of Arts & Sciences Dean] Brad Rundquist and his faculty. We’ll be meeting with the faculty who teach in Merrifield about how we might refurbish that building.”

She said the goal is to come up with ideas, in order to develop costs and establish a certain amount for legislative consideration.

“There is a lot of commitment and connection to Merrifield,” Storrs continued. “Our alums think highly of the building, so the UND Foundation is confident that they could raise some funding to support it, as well.”

Cassie Gerhardt (center) and Karyn Plumm talked about all of the changes happening to summer orientation and registration. Registration is now going to be available online, and there will be fewer, yet larger, on-campus orientation sessions. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Redesigning orientation and registration

Significant changes are coming to Summer Orientation and registration in 2020, said Storrs. Karyn Plumm, assistant vice provost for student success, and Cassie Gerhardt, associate dean of students, took turns at the forum describing a redesign for incoming students.

The redesign addressed two longstanding issues, Plumm said.

“One is that students and their families come to campus for the day and get all of this great programming, but all they really want to do is register for classes,” she said. “We tried delaying registration until the end of the day, but then they weren’t paying attention to everything else.”

The second issue, she said, was the date range of orientation at UND. Early June has typically been the marker for orientation and registration sessions, but “some of the students had graduated from high school literally the week or day before,” Plumm remarked. “They weren’t really in the mindset of being a college student, let alone being a UND student.”

Previous summers have seen around 25 total sessions of orientation on campus. This year, there will be eight. And in changes meant to address the above issues, course registration will be available online — as early as May — and the orientation sessions have been moved to the middle of July.

Gerhardt said the idea is to have students and family members use their time on campus the way that they feel is necessary, in addition to attending the events, housing tours and safety seminars that UND will offer.

“The priority is for them to address those things that are causing them anxiety as they prepare for the start of fall semester,” she said. This could mean spending more time going over finances at One Stop Student Services, for example, or ensuring a continuity of care plan is in place at Student Health Services or the University Counseling Center.

The hope, Gerhardt continued, is that students will feel prepared and confident when they leave home for UND and Welcome Weekend in August. Both Plumm and Gerhardt thanked everyone involved in making the changes, which required a partnership involving Academic Affairs, Student Affairs & Diversity, Enrollment Management, Admissions and Marketing & Creative Services.