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Forward facing

Faculty fellows, vice provosts key players in Academic Affairs’ efforts to enact One UND strategic plan

2017 Provost Office Faculty Fellows
When UND Provost Thomas DiLorenzo set out to set up a new team in his office to spearhead implementation of the new One UND Strategic plan, he asked two deans, Hesham El-Rewini of the College of Engineering &; Mines, and Debbie Storrs, College of Arts & Sciences, to join his office as quarter-time senior vice provosts. Then he invited applications for six more faculty fellows to work on special projects that connect to the strategic plan. That team comprises (front row) Grant McGimpsey, vice president of research & economic development and dean of the graduate school; El-Rewini; DiLorenzo; Storrs; (back row) John Mihelich, professor of anthropology and chair of electrical engineering; Rebecca Rozelle-Stone, associate professor of philosophy; Chris Nelson, associate professor of English; Karyn Plumm, associate professor and associate dean of Arts & Sciences; David Flynn, professor and chair of economics; Gail Ingwalson, associate professor and chair, teaching & learning; Jeff Holm, professor and chair of psychology. Photo by Tyler Ingham

How do you move forward in a time of fiscal constraint?

You think innovatively and develop leaders in action, said Thomas DiLorenzo, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

After Steve Light, former associate vice president for academic affairs, was tapped as interim dean of the College of Business & Public Affairs, DiLorenzo decided to think outside the box and get back up to speed as quickly as possible.

His goal? To implement the Strategic Plan and advance the University.

Instead of hiring a full-time replacement, he asked two deans, Hesham El-Rewini of the College of Engineering & Mines, and Debbie Storrs, College of Arts & Sciences, to join his office as quarter-time senior vice provosts. And he invited applications for faculty fellows to work on special projects that connect to the Strategic Plan.

More than 20 faculty members applied for the six spots in the program.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” DiLorenzo said. “People are willing to jump in.”

DiLorenzo said the faculty fellows will help better serve the University and its people, increase leadership depth and avoid administrative bloat. They perform their regular teaching, research and service duties with small changes to their “page 2” workloads.

“We’re using the expertise of faculty to move ahead,” he said. “We’re getting the work done, and all the tasks are integrated with the UND Strategic Plan and the North Dakota University System Strategic Plan. We’re helping move higher education forward in the state.”

Moving research forward

“I’m thrilled to have faculty fellows working with me,” said Grant McGimpsey, vice president for research & economic development, dean of graduate studies and captain of Strategic Plan goal 4, enhancing discovery.

John Mihelich, professor of anthropology and chair of electrical engineering, is managing the research and economic development seed funding programs and assisting with institutional reporting, as well as helping implement goal 4.

“I enjoy figuring out new opportunities for faculty research funding and addressing challenges,” said Mihelich. “I appreciate the opportunity to work across the University to support and develop research and creative activity.”

David Flynn, professor and chair of economics, is also working on goal 4, with a focus on making it easier for faculty to report the outcomes of their research and scholarship.

“We need to improve Digital Measures and make reporting as painless as possible,” McGimpsey said, adding that better data reporting will help the University move to Carnegie R1 research status more quickly, part of goal 4.

“I find this very important and rewarding work,” said Flynn. “We don’t have a road map, and there are many ways to enhance research and discovery. We’re developing that road map.”

Chris Nelson is acting as associate dean of the graduate school and focused on Goal 2, increasing retention and graduation rates and program development.

“Graduate education is important to me,” Nelson said, adding he served as graduate studies director in English. “This role lets you work at the university level.”

Nelson is adding and expanding events such as GRAD Day, Three-Minute Thesis, and adding professional development workshops for students. He’s also implemented a faculty advocate group, the Gradvocates.

An innovative model

“This is an innovative model that uses the expertise of existing leaders and offers an opportunity for faculty to develop leadership,” said El-Rewini about adding senior vice provosts and faculty fellows to the provost’s office.

In addition to his work as dean, El-Rewini oversees five areas in the provost’s office: faculty affairs, the registrar’s office, student academic services, information technology, and institutional effectiveness. He’s also captain of Goal 2, increasing retention and graduation rates.

“Faculty Fellow Jeff Holm is helping me in all areas, especially faculty affairs and data,” said El-Rewini. “He brings great experience as a chair, and is doing a fantastic job of focusing on improving the services we provide for faculty, students and staff.”

“I like being able to share things I’ve learned as a faculty member with the provost and vice provosts,” said Holm professor and chair of psychology. “I like the responsiveness I’m getting.”

Holm is focusing on institutional effectiveness and institutional research, looking at ways to reorganize, establish procedures, and provide analytic resources.

“As faculty, we want to see these things strengthened,” Holm said. “It’s nice to see this view shared by others in the office, including the provost.”

Beyond academics

Storrs said that serving as a vice provost has helped her think about collaboration across the University and beyond academics.

“I’m more aware of issues across colleges,” Storrs said. “I look at the whole University.”

Captain of Goal 1, providing a strong undergraduate liberal arts foundation, Storrs is also responsible for essential studies, honors, international programs, and the new Teaching Transformation & Development Academy (TTaDA).

She’s being assisted by three faculty fellows.

Karyn Plumm is managing curriculum and program reviews for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which are required for accreditation.

“I’m working on processes to streamline the program reviews across campus and measure program quality,” Plumm said. “I’ve always been interested in curriculum and program reviews, and am looking forward to making things more clear and consistent.” She’s also updating all four-year graduation plans across campus.

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone is working with Honors Director Amanda Boyd to re-vision the honors program.

“They have great ideas to grow honors, recruit and retain honors students, as well as improve courses and add high-impact learning practices,” Storrs said.

“Honors is a big interest of mine,” Rozelle-Stone said, adding she was an honors student as an undergraduate. “It’s exciting to work with the honors program. We want to integrate faculty from across the University and increase faculty participation.”

Gail Ingwalson is bringing together formerly separate units under the new Teaching Transformation and Development Academy (TTaDA).

“I’m excited about her work,” Storrs said. “Gail is experienced at bringing together units, and is focused on learning. She’s bringing people together in a more integrated way.”

“This is something I believe in,” said Ingwalson. “People, including myself, believe strongly that we need an academy to address the needs of faculty and staff. This is a great group.” She added that combining the five units will allow TTaDA to bring programming to colleges. “This gets more people involved, and we can touch more of campus.”

So far, the faculty fellows program has been a success, said DiLorenzo.

“The Faculty Fellows will help us serve students better, make sure they graduate in a timely fashion, and have a better experience. They will also help to strengthen our research presence and support graduate education. That will lead to more students coming here.  Our process is very data-based and outcome-focused. Because it is all tied to the Strategic Plan, we’ll see benefits and implement the plan faster.”