‘Alexa, play Art Malloy’
Professional gospel singing is just one highlight of the rich background of UND’s new VP for Student Affairs
Editor’s note: UND Today had the great pleasure recently of visiting with Art Malloy, the University’s new vice president for Student Affairs. Today, we’d like to share Part 1 of that interview — edited for length and clarity — so that others may get to know Vice President Malloy a bit better, too. Part 2 of the Q&A will be published in Thursday’s UND Today. Enjoy!
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Q. Your first official day as vice president of Student Affairs was Jan. 9. So, do you feel like you have your bearings yet?
A. I do feel like I’m fully acclimated to North Dakota weather. I found a nice parka, a warm hat, and I can start my car remotely with an app. (laughs)
Also, Chief (Rodney) Clark gave me a pair of spikes that I can put on the bottom of my shoes. And I have a daily Starbucks Chai Tea Latte with four pumps of caramel, so that’s just the boost I need to be able to handle everything I need to handle walking across campus.
Seriously, though, I think I’m used to zero and subzero temperatures, but I can tell you the past two days (Jan. 30 and 31, temperature range: 1 above to 25 below zero) were eye-openers for me. But I’m OK. My wife bought me the biggest parka I’ve ever seen. I think it weighs 25 pounds, so I had that on, and I was just fine.
Q. Well, we’re glad to hear that, and we’re happy you’re here! Now, we know our readers are eager to learn more about you, so let’s start with you telling us a bit about your background and family.
A. Well, I have three decades of experience as a Student Affairs practitioner and leader. I have been in higher ed for a while.
I love interacting with students and always have. I was an RA and an orientation assistant, and pretty much since my time as a student and serving as a student leader, I’ve never left the university. I’ve been the chief Student Affairs officer at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, and I was the chief Student Affairs officer on an interim basis at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. I’ve been dean of students at University of North Carolina at Pembroke and at Winston Salem State University also. So, I love doing what I do.
My wife, Vickie, is a pharmacist, and she and I have one son, David, who is a recent college graduate. He graduated in 2021.
Q. What have been your first impressions of UND and the community?
A. What I can tell you is when I came to interview here — and I’d been interviewing in a couple of places — the way UND and the people of Grand Forks treated me, they just made me feel at home and welcomed. So when it was time for me to make my choice, it really wasn’t even close.
I love President (Andrew) Armacost and think he’s a wonderful person and an exemplary leader. When you see a leader, and his mantra is “love your people,” it’s inspirational — and when you know you’ll be with colleagues more than you’ll be with your own family, you grow to like them and eventually love them, at least one would hope.
That’s what I’ve spent my time doing since I’ve been here, trying to get to know this absolutely stellar staff in the Division of Student Affairs. I’ve also been reaching out to people outside the Division of Student Affairs because I want to get to know them, too.
I think collaboration is going to be the rule of the day for me, because the sum of our parts will be a lot stronger than any singular part. So, that’s something that I intend to do.
I think the UND experience is one that comes from a marriage between students, faculty and staff — all of them working together to make sure that every person who works here, every student who studies here, every person who comes to visit here, gets a sense for why this is a special place.
Q. As you mentioned, you have a long record in student affairs. How do you hope to harness that experience for UND?
A. First, it’s important to make sure you’re connecting with the great leadership that’s already here. Student Government leaders Faith Wahl and Morgan Mastrud are phenomenal. President Armacost is absolutely top-notch. And Bob Newman, chair of the Faculty Senate, has been instrumental in getting me in front of faculty.
I am extremely excited about what I believe we all can accomplish together. I think it is important that we have high expectations. In Student Affairs, we have to want to be the best and serve students in excellence. I want UND to be the absolute best Student Affairs Division, not just in North Dakota but in this region of the country. Reaching high is something that we always should be doing.
As a matter of fact, I think that our students expect that from us. What I’ve learned with students and everyone else is that when you set the bar high, expectations are met. When you set the bar low, those expectations are also met. So then, why not set the bar high?
Again, we already have some great leadership in place. We have a wonderful associate vice president, a great dean of students and a veteran staff of specialists. Our directors are amazing. Did I mention that we have the highest accreditation possible for a student health center? We hold accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. We also have the highest accreditation for our counseling center, and that’s by the International Accreditation of Counseling Services. We have a firm foundation, and our practitioners have a heart for our students.
So I’m feeling very good about what we have here. I think we have the makings of something great, and I think our students deserve it.
Q. As the vice president of Student Affairs, you’ll have your hands in so many vital areas on campus. Do you have a particular plan of attack?
A. The first thing is to take a look at where we are, and again, from a divisional perspective, we have done some great things. I’m not sure that we have done them in a manner that the entire campus knows what we do, though — how we add value to the lives of our students and the UND experience. So I think we’re going to be much more deliberate about using data to tell that story.
In addition, I’m looking forward to having regular meetings with students. I think it’s important that students know I’m accessible, that my colleagues who work in the Office of Student Affairs and the division also are accessible. And I think it’s extremely important for us to talk about and shape the UND experience to the point where everyone on campus is able to talk about it, too.
That way, students are going to know that if they attend UND, here’s what’s going to happen. Here are the types of things that they’re going to be exposed to, and here are the types of experiences they’re going to have.
Every student is going to have the chance to participate in leadership opportunities and be able to see what professionalism looks like. Every student will be encouraged to participate in community service.
So, citizenship, leadership, professionalism — those are things we will emphasize.
I’m located in Room 229 in the Memorial Union. And if students want to visit and chat, we have an open-door policy. Students should feel comfortable coming over to have a conversation with me, should they desire to do so.
I look forward to meeting more students. I’ll be reaching out to meet leaders in our student organizations. I also want to meet with all the Greeks, presidents, peer educators and ambassadors. I want to meet with all the RAs and all other students who desire to share their experience with me or who may have suggestions on how we can make the UND experience stronger.
I’m going to take the time to make sure that, one, students know my face, and two, they also know my heart. That’s going to take some time; but I intend to be here for quite some time, so it’s not something I feel like I have to do overnight.
Again, I’m so appreciative of the way everyone already has reached out to me, and I’m looking forward to serving because, you know, when you talk about leadership, you can say that you’re a leader, but the leaders I respect the most are leaders who also are servants.
Q. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges you’ll face?
A. Here’s one: Coming off the tail end of the pandemic, I think we still need to have a strong focus on wellness. Moreover, I think it’s also important for us to have services available to our students who are online learners. That’s going to be one challenge: to make sure we’re able to deliver wellness services to students online. We were just having conversations about this yesterday.
So, for example, how do we push services out from the Wellness Center for students who are not coming to campus at all? How do we offer services such as a yoga class online, or a tailored session where we talk to a student who’s trying to increase their level of fitness?
Likewise, how do we use Zoom and Microsoft Teams to make sure that students can still see the events that are happening on campus, even though they may not have the opportunity to be here? I think those are the challenges that the post-pandemic era is going to present to us.
I do have some experience dealing with these types of issues at other universities. We will look at what the challenges are here and respond accordingly.
Q. What does a happy, well-balanced student experience look like to you?
A. First and foremost, we make sure the students know right up front at Student Orientation what leadership opportunities are available to them. Whether they decide they want to be an RA, be a peer-to-peer helper, have a job on campus or be connected to a student organization, we begin the process on Day One by making sure they know what’s available.
That’s the beginning of getting students connected; and once that happens, those students are going to help other students. It’s a virtuous circle.
So for me, a great student experience includes having the opportunity to engage in leadership experiences. Plus, it’s having the opportunity to learn from students who are not of your culture, may not speak the same language as you, and may have different ideologies, different philosophies.
That’s one of the great things about a college campus: We facilitate those experiences so that students can learn about diversity and difference, and learn it in an environment that promotes mutual respect.
Also, for those students who have jobs on campus, I think it’s important for us to make sure we tailor the jobs so the student gets the kind of experience they can put on their resume. In other words, we’re helping the student not only gain skills but also learn what it means to be professional.
I think these are the things that are going to set our students apart. While we want them to have a phenomenal experience in the classroom, it cannot stop there because most of the growth that happens in the life of a student doesn’t happen in the classroom, it happens outside the classroom. So we’ll be looking for opportunities to get that student as engaged as they would like to be.
Basically, everything that our students will be participating in will be preparing them for the world of work. We want our students to be able to have jobs in their major six to 10 months after graduation. And then we want them to come back and give of their time and talent as mentors, as persons who can influence the next generation of students. And then eventually, as they become highly successful, we would hope that they would come back to the institution and give now not only of their time and talent, but also their treasure.
And for me, all of that begins on Day One. This is not something where we just come to work and wing it. Everything that we do has to be intentional. We do it with a plan to help facilitate student growth, student development and student success.
In short, I want to roll up my sleeves and work with all my colleagues across the University, so we can help our students win. Because when our students win, UND wins; and when UND wins, the state of North Dakota wins.
Q. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? What are your hobbies?
A. I write poetry, and you might laugh at this, but I love Korean dramas and international movies. And I also love Bollywood — the movies from India where the actors sing and dance, and the wonderful attire they have on.
Also, I like to sing. So, I look forward to an opportunity to sing with students and perhaps for the University community.
Q. Did I hear you sang professionally with your family?
A. My four siblings and I sang gospel. I also sang at a number of weddings, too. And I’m a wedding officiant, so I have performed weddings for former students.
Q. So did you and your siblings tour or perform locally?
A. We sang around the country.
Q. You’re kidding. Really?
A. Yes, indeed. We actually did three albums — now does that date me when I say three albums? This was a long time ago, but we signed our first recording contract when I was 14.
Q. So are there any recordings that we here at UND could listen to?
A. Let’s put it this way: Anybody who really wants to find out, they can. I mean if you have Alexa, you can just say, “Alexa, play Art Malloy.”
You know, this was a song I wrote because I had a cousin who was in the military. And so I just wrote a song one day called, “I’m a Soldier.” It’s on iTunes. And you can pull it up just by saying, “Alexa, play Art Malloy.” And it’s not even going to charge you to play it. (laughs)