UND Today

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More action, brighter future

Campus open fora return with discussion of achievements and strategic plans for the future

2017 Provost Forum 1
In his first campus-wide forum of the year, UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo said that although the University has gone through rough times, the campus community is now moving forward. That forward-leaning thinking has already led to “incredible news” for UND in the form of recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report that put the University among other elite schools for being most innovative.

UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tom DiLorenzo stood in front of the dozens filling Education Building Room 7 on Thursday, ready to pick up where he left off in May.

This was the first in a new schedule of campus fora, which were heavily attended in spring for important updates on budget challenges, strategic planning, marketing and more.

“We want to use these as a way to get information to you on a regular basis and answer any questions that you might have,” DiLorenzo told the staff, faculty and administrators in the audience. “I think it worked out really well last year, so we want to continue.”

Although the University has gone through rough times, the provost said, the campus community is now moving forward. And that forward-leaning thinking has already led to “incredible news” for UND.

UND was named to the 2018 U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top 25 Most Innovative Schools, placing it among the likes of innovation forces like Harvard, MIT and Yale. UND was also the highest-ranked university in North Dakota, coming in at 192 on the list of the Best National Universities – a rise of 10 places from last year.

“That’s not happenstance. That’s because you are doing lots of really good things that are getting noticed,” DiLorenzo said.

Tom DiLorenzo
DiLorenzo used his first Provost Forum of the 2017-18 academic year to provide a brief update on University’s current budget situation, which he said was in “stable condition” this year. He also thanked everyone for their hard work and adaptability in weathering a two-year storm.

Budget & Strategic Plan

Provost DiLorenzo provided a brief update on University’s current budget situation, which he said was in “stable condition” this year. He thanked everyone for their hard work and adaptability in weathering the two-year storm.

But now, he continued, is time to plan for the future.

Work continues on rolling out the new incentive-based budget model, which is empowering units to find ways to grow and diversify – all within the structure of the One UND Strategic Plan.

“The budget follows the Strategic Plan. It’s not the opposite. In the past, we operated the other way. We just said, ‘We don’t have the money to do that,’” DiLorenzo said. “We need to determine our priorities, and then go look at the budget after that.”

DiLorenzo explained how UND’s Strategic Plan is well-aligned with that of the North Dakota University System, which focuses on delivering high-value and sought-after degrees, equipping students for success, increasing collaboration between universities, and expanding research and innovation.

UND is already following through on many action items of the plan – the growing implementation of open educational resources; increased online course and program offerings; improved diversity of students; policy changes that make it easier to attend UND and graduate on time; and an array of new active learning spaces, including the Math Active Learning Lab (MALL).

“If you haven’t seen some of the transformed spaces out there on campus, you have to get out and look at it,” he said of the MALL. “It’s exciting, it’s vibrant, and the students are learning.”

DiLorenzo also took a moment to explain staffing changes within the Office of the Provost, including a new team of faculty fellows who have stepped up to help with special strategic projects.

Student Financial Aid

DiLorenzo asked campus Leaders in Action from Student Financial Aid, Student Account Services and UND One-Stop to share how their units recently teamed up to use data tools and process improvement training to become more efficient and make things easier for students trying to navigate the system.

“We really want to focus on the student experience. In the past, we were building processes, and then we were forcing students into them,” said Student Account Operations Manager Chelsea Larson. “But now we want to gather student experiences and how they feel about things, and then build our processes from that.”

In the six months since the teams started collaborating, they’ve already tweaked their workflow enough to see real gains, including faster financial aid disbursement and scholarship check processing.

“They’re not working harder – they’re working smarter,” DiLorenzo said.

Search updates

An audience member inquired about the status of searches for several leadership positions on campus. The Provost gave a comprehensive update:

  • In the search for a Vice President of University Relations, three finalists have been announced and will visit campus Sept. 20-28.
  • The search for a replacement for Alice Brekke, vice president for Finance and Operations, will begin in the next few weeks.
  • The search committee for the new dean of the College of Business and Public Administration was announced on Monday.
  • The leadership team of the Center for Innovation will determine how to move forward with the search for a new director in the coming weeks.

DiLorenzo concluded his first forum of the semester with his intentions for the series moving forward.

“We’ll talk about where we want to be in a year, and where we want to be in five years,” he said. “That’s going to be a really important part of setting up the University for the future.”

The Provost’s fora will continue to be held in Education Building Room 7 from 3:30-4:30p.m. The dates and topics are listed below.


  • 12 – Marketing, Admissions, Branding and Recruitment
  • 26 – Strategic Plan Goals 1 and 2
  • 9 – Strategic Plan Goals 3 and 6
  • 30 – Strategic Plan Goals 4 and 5
  • 14 – Budget and MIRA