UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

VIDEO: Faculty and Staff Town Hall

‘Does UND have an overspending problem?’ For the answer to that question and many more, check out the video of Wednesday’s event

Editor’s note: On Wednesday, Jan. 24, UND held a Town Hall meeting via Zoom for faculty and staff. A video of the Town Hall (with closed captions available) is above, while below is a list of the questions that are asked and answered in the video, with time stamps for readers’ reference accompanying each question.

The following questions are asked and answered in the Faculty & Staff Town Hall. In addition, several questions were asked and answered after the conclusion of the Town Hall. Those questions and their answers can be found after the time-stamped list of Town Hall questions below.


8:28: Right out of the gate, we’re going to talk about the Huron Equity Study. The question that was submitted is, is there an update on the equity pay study through Huron, and could that be shared with the group?

I’m going to turn this question over to Associate Vice President for HR Peggy Varberg. Peggy, can you update us?

11:48: The next question is going to go over to our Associate Vice President for Facilities, Mike Pieper. Mike, where are we at with the parking conversation and the consultation process?

13:18: For the next question that was submitted, I’m going to turn it over to our Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Janelle Kilgore. Janelle, there’s a lot of talk about scholarship opportunities, in particular the Northstar promise for Minnesota schools as well as programs that other schools have developed or are in the process of developing – programs to stay competitive.

What is UND doing, and is there anything being done at the state level to answer that question?

18:59: Our next question, I’m going to pass over to University Police Chief Rodney Clark. Chief Clark, is there an update on training opportunities for safety procedures such as lock down or active shooter?

I’m going to tie that question to another one, which is: On Dec. 19, when we had the Shelter in Place warning that went out, was this the first time where we had an armed assailant on campus? And also, the questioner is just wondering again what are we doing to make our campus as safe as possible?

Editor’s note: In his answer, Clark makes a point of saying that in fact, the Dec. 19 incident did not involve an armed assailant on campus. Instead, the situation involved a car chase in the city that spilled over onto campus when the person fled from the police.

“So at no time was there an armed assailant on campus on Dec. 19,” Clark says.

23:58: The next question, I’m going to send over to Provost Eric Link. Provost Link, this is a pre-submitted question from the University Senate that asks, there was some frustration and confusion about the switch in syllabus platforms. Funding was spent to encourage professors to use SYL; then with little warning, SYL was no longer available and was not ready for spring semester.

Could you give an update on the current status?

29:07: President Armacost, are there any updates that you can share with us on the repatriation process?

33:12: I’m going to bundle a few questions together, and ask Peggy Varberg: Peggy, we’re getting a lot of questions regarding the Huron study, and I know you’ve been answering them online in the Q&A.

I’m wondering if you can give an update us on, when do you believe the update will be posted on the web, and where might people find it on the website when it’s ready?

35:34: The next question is for Janelle Kilgore. Janelle, the question is, “The revised FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid process has created delays for some students, and they may not meet UND’s priority deadline. Is there any advice for those students?

37:19: The next question is going to go over to Chief Clark. The question: if we have classrooms that have doors that cannot be secured in the event of an active shooter, what can be done?

38:55: The next question, I’m going to send back over over to Peggy Varberg. The question is, while the State Board of Higher Education asks for feedback on the president every few years, will there be an opportunity to provide feedback on campus vice presidents?

40:57: The next question, I’m going to send over to Jeff Holm, vice provost for Strategic Programming & Special Initiatives. Jeff, the question goes back to the syllabus software; will faculty be required to use it?

41:27: The next question I’m going to send over to President Armacost. Over the years, UND has conducted many capital projects, and more capital projects are underway. Moreover, the number of administrative positions seems to be increasing more rapidly than faculty positions.

The question for the president is, does UND have an overspending problem? In five to 10 years, will UND fall into a situation similar to West Virginia University, in which overspending not matched by enrollment growth led to a huge deficit and massive cuts of programs and faculty positions?

44:52: The next question is for Chief Clark, and it’s regarding the recent ice storm warning issued by the National Weather Service that was just recent. That warning did not trigger a weather alert email from UND Operations, and given the impact of the December ice storm, are there plans to add “ice storm warnings” to the set of weather alerts that trigger emails?

46:13: The next question, I’m gonna send over to Shane Schellpfeffer, and it’s regarding our upcoming Reaffirmation of Accreditation visit.

49:29: The next question will go back to Peggy Varberg. If two people both work at state jobs, and one works at UND and does not get the health insurance benefit, is there a way to compensate that person, as it’s a lot of money that’s tied to that benefit.

50:23: The next question is for Chief Clark. If there is an active shooter situation, where do people run if all the walls are made of glass, as in an office or classroom building?

52:06: UND enrollments are strong, and the efforts of many on campus to make this happen are appreciated. What kinds of efforts are being undertaken to help manage rapid online growth and potential declines in on-campus student enrollments? What support will be provided to upper levels to help ensure excellent online instruction and manageable course sizes across the colleges?

57:11: The next question, I’m going to send over to Provost Eric Link. Provost Link, on the other side of the budget question, does UND plan on reviewing the viability of academic departments? No university can have or should have a department for every academic discipline, and supporting nonviable departments can harm universities and colleges in the long run.


Editor’s note: As mentioned above, UND officials also answered a few more questions that hadn’t been able to be asked during the Faculty & Staff Town Hall. Those questions and their answers follow.

  • Question: What is the plan for the residence halls? Are some coming down, and are we selling the West part of campus where the apartments are?

Answer from Mike Pieper, associate vice president for Facilities:

The UND Student Housing project had two main objectives:

1) Improve the quality of on-campus housing, and

2) Right-size the amount of on-campus housing to meet our demand and eliminate unneeded supply of buildings and beds.

With the newer housing now online, some of the older residence halls have already been razed, and remaining older residence halls — Johnstone-Fulton-Smith – are being reviewed for possible demolition this summer (2024).

UND’s older low-density apartments on the West side of campus are continuously reviewed, and over time will be razed and/or replaced by UND and/or private developers. Some of the older apartments have already been razed, and the remaining buildings were planned to be razed over the next 10 years (the apartments north of University happening sooner than the apartments south of University).

UND will eventually have a large vacant parcel between University Avenue/North 42nd Street/6th Avenue North and Stanford Road that is being analyzed for potential redevelopment by UND and or a private developer(s).

UND would always want to own or control the development along University Avenue, but vacant land off 6th Avenue North could potentially be available for sale if the proposed development is in UND’s best interest.

  • Question: With enrollment being up and on-campus housing demand being higher, is there a discussion about postponing the demolition of Smith, Johnstone and Fulton halls, as they might still be needed for overflow?

Answer from Mike Pieper:

This issue is being reviewed and discussed, with the hope to have some direction by the end of February.

Currently, Smith is the only building being discussed to hold longer for overflow and to manage the tenant “melt” that normally occurs in the fall, as students decide that higher education might not be for them, and they decide to un-enroll.

The question has been raised about the future need to overflow into our older buildings if it was deemed necessary to take Noren and or Selke offline for a year to remodel. A few ways we can manage the need for this type of overflow would be:

• Develop projects that could be accomplished over the summer months (phased construction is typically more expensive)

• We can load some of our buildings (University Place and Swanson) as they were originally designed, and double load the bedrooms (increase our number of available beds)

• In the short-term, we could manage our upperclassmen demand for residence hall beds. For example, limiting the number of upperclassmen who can return to an on-campus residence halls for one year (in order to take Noren and or Selke offline for remodeling) would allow UND to accommodate all of the freshman who desire to live on campus.

• Relax the freshmen live-on-campus requirement until the remodeling of Noren and/or Selke can be completed

• Build/use a new upperclassmen apartment building for freshmen (short-term), until the remodeling of Noren and or Selke is completed. Once Noren and/or Selke is completed, UND would have new upperclassmen apartments/housing designed to meet our current upperclassmen demand.

  • Question for Chief Clark: What is your opinion on the Alice program when referring to an active shooter situation?

Answer from Chief Clark:

I am familiar with the ALICE program. I prefer RUN HIDE FIGHT, due to its simplicity and the ease of remembering a three-step process or three distinct options.
I think ALICE can be a good program as well. Since most of UND is conditioned to RUN HIDE FIGHT at this point, I am more in favor of keeping RUN HIDE FIGHT to avoid a whole re-training dynamic.