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UND Provost welcomes special guests to weekly budget forum for updates on international programs, student government and information technology

Katie Davidson
UND Director of International Programs Katie Davidson says she and her team are working with admissions to pilot a pre-registration process for international students who don’t arrive on campus until a week before classes begin. Davidson led off the latest budget forum meeting on Wednesday, March 29, with UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo (right). Photo by Jackie Lorentz.

“It’s always good to see friendly faces.”

UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tom DiLorenzo greeted the audience that gathered Wednesday in the Education Building for the weekly budget forum, happy to share his time with some guest speakers.

UND Director of International Programs Katie Davidson kicked off the conversation by explaining her role in improving the UND experience for international students, who often run into unique issues.

Davidson and her team are working with admissions to pilot a pre-registration process for international students who don’t arrive on campus until a week before classes begin.

“They have a schedule built for them that hits the prerequisite courses they need, gets them in the international student section of Composition and other things like that, so that they do have the classes that they need and are set up to succeed from the second that they step onto campus,” Davidson explained.

The International Center is also implementing new software to help normalize barriers to studying abroad, such as expenses, parental factors and worries about staying on course for graduation. It also matches students with study abroad programs that fit their wants and needs.

If the study abroad program continues to grow as planned, it will double its participation within the next academic year.

“We have the capacity to grow much more than that, so hopefully this new software will really help get more students interested in going abroad,” Davidson said.

The International Center has been busy streamlining the visa process for students, faculty and staff, becoming a passport acceptance facility (coming soon), and working with different units across campus to bring international experiences to those who can’t study abroad. Davidson said she’s “all ears” for new ideas.

“We’re very excited, but we can’t do this work alone,” she told attendees.

Student government

Student Body President Brandon Beyer brought positive news about the growing implementation of open educational resources (OER) at UND.

Over the past couple of years, a North Dakota University System (NDUS) OER grant program has helped UND save students around $2 million each year in textbook costs. With the continuation of the grants uncertain in a tough budget cycle, Student Government decided to step in.

“We wrote one of the biggest bills that I know of through Student Senate’s history at $75,000 for some University level grants to fund faculty members to implement OER into their classrooms. The provost graciously offered to add $25,000 to that,” Beyer said.

Beyer also took a moment to reinforce the importance of the students’ voice in the midst of ongoing budget talks.

“We’re working closely with the administration when they’re making these decisions, and the common denominator throughout these discussions is really the students,” Beyer said.

Hello, CIO

The campus community was formally introduced to UND’s new Chief Information Officer (CIO), Madhavi Marasinghe, who outlined her role and plans for strengthening IT systems on campus.

Marasinghe emphasized the value of two-way communication, telling the crowd she will always be there to help with issues, questions and ideas, and will soon be documenting ongoing initiatives and IT projects on her website.

“When we are spending a lot of money, and it’s going to affect your daily work life, I would really like to have those up and on a site where you can go and see what we are doing,” Marasinghe said.

Learn more about Marasinghe and her goals in this UND Today profile.

Numbers and faculty development

DiLorenzo was glad to share the latest fall enrollment data, which shows the number of confirmation deposits for admitted freshmen is up by 80 from this time last year, with confirmation deposits for transfer students up by 33—a great sign of growth.

The Promotion and Tenure process over past year has led to the promotion and/or tenure of nearly 50 individuals. Everyone who was promoted will receive promotion pay.

“It’s incredibly important that you reward people at those few milestones in higher education when they’ve moved ahead,” DiLorenzo said following the forum.

Thirteen requests for developmental leave were approved for the coming academic year to allow faculty the opportunity to advance their work and research. “We determined that this is a core part of who we are, especially when we look at strategic planning and making decisions based on where we want to go as a University,” DiLorenzo said.

Grad tuition waivers

UND Associate Professor of Biomedical Science John Shabb wrapped up the forum with a question about graduate student tuition waivers.

“Graduate teaching assistantships are targeted as one area of potential reduction. I’m wondering how this is all going to play out,” Shabb said.

DiLorenzo answered that assistantships are an area being reduced, adding that the deans are managing the process of tuition waivers with their department chairs by looking at costs, funding and how many waivers can be supported.

“We want to continue growing our programs, and we would especially like to grow with paying students,” DiLorenzo said. “We have a number of programs here at the University where we don’t offer waivers at all and students come.”

The budget fora will continue with a discussion on endowments led by Laura Block of the UND Foundation on Wednesday, April 5 from 3-4 p.m. in Education Building Room 7. Additional fora will be held at the same location on the following dates from 3-4 p.m.:

April 12 (Provost updates and Strategic Planning Committee updates)
April 19 (Provost updates and Strategic Planning Committee updates)
April 26 (Strategic Planning Committee updates)
May 3 (University Council meeting – Location TBA)

For more budget-related communications, click on the Budget tab of the UND Today homepage.