UND Today

University of North Dakota's Official News Source

Wishing new faculty ‘an amazing experience’

Get to know each other, make use of UND’s services and of course, get a coat, new faculty members are told

New faculty members at UND pose during New Faculty Orientation 2022 at the University. The top row is flanked by Erik Link (left), provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Andy Armacost (right), president of UND, both of whom addressed the new faculty members. Photo by Tom Dennis/UND Today.

Grand Forks is a fairly stable community, demographically speaking. Lots of long-term residents are people who were born in or near the city.

But there were new faces from all kinds of new places on the UND campus last week, as New Faculty Orientation introduced about 50 incoming faculty from around the nation and world to the University.

“I like the peacefulness here,” said Pantea Tavakolian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who hails originally from Iran. “We were living in downtown Boston before this, and it was very crowded and noisy there.”

UND is a beautiful school that offers a perfect atmosphere for both teaching and research, she said.

Nathan Iseminger, assistant professor of aviation, agreed. A native of Maryland and an Air Force retiree, Iseminger was stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base in 2018 and was impressed by UND’s reputation in the field.

“I love that UND is so involved with aerospace and commercial aviation,” he said. “The University is leading the way with that, in areas including the awesome drone program. We’re also one of very few schools that has an air-traffic-control degree program that helps graduates find employment with the FAA, so I’m excited to join that long-standing tradition.”

New UND assistant professors of mechanical engineering Pantea Tavakolian (center right) and Hossein Kashani Zadeh (right) learn more about UND programs and benefits at the University’s New Faculty Orientation 2022. Photo by Janelle Vonasek/UND Today.

A campus of collegiality

When faculty members introduced themselves at a “Getting to know each other” function on Friday, they spoke of traveling here from destinations as distant as India and Nigeria and as close as East Grand Forks, as well as from Wyoming, Washington and other places in between.

Regardless, all are welcome, and all can count on a collegial campus that’ll offer great friendships as well as professional growth, UND President Andy Armacost told the group.

“I’m just back from the bus tour, where many of us got to know one another,” said Armacost, speaking of the annual New Faculty & Administrators Bus Tour that takes newcomers around the state.

“I think we had a really good time. And I use that as a microcosm of what life at UND should be like: a chance to find those experiences where we’re together, we’re sharing ideas and we’re having fun.”

UND is an extraordinary university, Armacost continued. “And as I said on the bus, I want us to be known as a place where the moment you step on campus, you feel a sense of wonder – at the contributions of the people here, our commitment to our missions of education and discovery and our focus on graduating our students to become leaders in North Dakota and the world,” he said.

“We’re just delighted that you’re with us, and we’re convinced that whatever department you landed in here at UND, you’ll have an amazing experience.”

About 35 new faculty were present in-person for the two days of New Faculty Orientation events, while another 15 or so participated online. Participants learned about parking passes and benefits enrollment, among other topics, and took part in workshops such as “Helping Students Succeed in Your Course” and “Launching a Successful Research Program at UND.”

UND President Andy Armacost (left) and Eric Link, provost and vice president of academic affairs, address new faculty members during UND’s New Faculty Orientation 2022. Photo by Tom Dennis/UND Today.

‘All the resources you need’

“Like President Armacost, I really am so excited that you are here with us and on campus,” said Eric Link, UND’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“I want you to know that we’re so thankful to have you here. I also want you to know that we have substantial support services here to help you succeed.

“We want you to be able to have all the resources you need – the help, the advice, the ‘just point me in the right direction’ kind of assistance you may need, so you can get down to the business of teaching, researching and enjoying your career here in Grand Forks.”

And of course, considering the variety of climates that the new faculty members hail from, Link had one piece of vital advice for people from southern regions: “Get a coat,” he said to laughter.

“But seriously, it is absolutely lovely here in Grand Forks. I love it here, and I think you will as well.”