|President focuses on future at U Council talk|
President Kupchella focused on UND’s position now and in the future at his University Council talk May 9. The University, he said, is positioned to rise to a ranking well within the top 100 doctoral/research universities in the nation – by every measure – and to do so in a sustainable way that will enable future leaders to ultimately move it into the top 50. The only limit to that goal, the president said, is money, and he commended the Legislature for providing funding for salaries, Centers of Excellence, and other programs.
The president emphasized that academics are UND’s reason for being, and praised University Senate for adopting new general education requirements. One goal before he retires early next year is the development of a Virtual College of Earth Systems, which would coordinate environmental science and Earth systems degrees from the bachelor’s to the doctorate.
The University continues to do well in sponsored programs, Kupchella said, with a total of 27 percent of the budget, and steadily increasing rates of proposals and grants. About 24 percent of UND’s budget comes from the state.
UND continues to be an economic development engine for the state, and was awarded three Centers of Excellence for Economic Development, a total of about $7 million, in the last round. They are the EERC National Center for Hydrogen Technology, Economic Development in UAVs and Simulation Applications, and in Life Sciences and Advanced Technologies (COELSAT). Another measure of UND’s contributions to economic development is the increasing number of patents and other intellectual property that have been commercialized.
The president emphasized a continuing need for liberal arts, UND’s core mission. Even though there’s a continuing need for specialists, he quoted The Futurist in saying that we’ll continue to need people who can think, collaborate, create, solve problems, communicate, and lead.
Kupchella said he was grateful to the Legislature for providing a 5 percent raise in salaries in each of the next two years, and said it will help UND be more competitive in attracting and retaining good faculty. He said that the increased flexibility provided by the state has allowed UND to increase faculty salaries 30 percent in the last five years.
He added that the Legislature has allocated money for repairs and maintenance, and also provided $1.98 million to renovate the infrastructure in O’Kelly Hall.
Kupchella then gave an update on ongoing initiatives, which are summarized below.
Capital campaign: In the last 10 months, $36 million in gifts have been announced, most for the endowment, which will provide permanent revenue for the University. A capital campaign, which will be announced soon, will raise $500 million for the endowment. A 4 percent interest rate would provide around $20 million annually to fund scholarships, endowed chairs, and more. It will make a difference, Kupchella said, to the University. Many people left UND, North Dakota, and the Midwest for better economic opportunities. And now, they want to give back by helping to grow the economy and provide opportunities here. Investing in the University is one of the best ways to achieve those goals, Kupchella said.
Division I athletics: Moving to Division I in all sports will cost money, Kupchella said. He thanked the working groups who have studied the move, and said he will soon receive and consider a recommendation to transfer to Division I. He noted that the bridge back to Division II is no longer there. The North Central Conference will cease to exist after next year. UND will participate in the NCC in 2007-2008 and will be eligible to play in post-season.
Legislature and Budget: Kupchella asked Alice Brekke, director of budget, to summarize funding for the next biennium. She said salaries will rise an average of 5 percent each year of the biennium, full health insurance coverage will continue (the cost is expected to rise about 19 percent), and funds have been provided for deferred maintenance.
Centers of Excellence: There has been a lot of discussion about the program, Kupchella said, and progress has been made. There will soon be another round of allocations.
Organizational Changes: With more emphasis on private funding and development, Kupchella said, fundraising will likely be a larger part of the next president’s duties. With that in mind, he and the cabinet are examining ways to restructure some areas, especially those reporting to the president. He said that he currently has 16 direct reports to him, and those need to be reduced. For example, one change that has already been made is to have the chief information officer report to the provost rather than the president. Another may be that the Conflict Resolution Center may also report to the provost. He is also considering elevating the senior associate to the president position to a vice president of general administrative affairs, and having some office, such as affirmative action and athletics, report to that person. He emphasized that this would not be a new position, but an upgrade to a current position.
Construction: There are some $75 million in projects under way on campus now, Kupchella said. The Hopper-Danley Memorial Chapel was dedicated earlier in the day, and construction will soon begin on the Behavioral Research Center. The EERC National Center for Hydrogen Research is nearly complete, the parking structure and apartment complex will be complete by fall, as will the Squires Dining Center remodel. Other projects include the COELSAT Center by the Hilton Garden Inn and phase two of the townhomes on the Bronson property.
Kupchella ended his talk by saying the lawsuit against the NCAA is still in place, but that UND and the NCAA continue to pursue the possibility of settling out of court. He then turned the gavel over to Doug Munski, chair of the University Senate.
Munski said the Senate has had a quiet and productive year, and hopes to help the University move toward its goal of top 100 and top 50 universities. Two major items he mentioned were endorsing the tobacco-free task force, and the new general education requirements.
Items of concern that Munski cited were the need for members of the medical, law, engineering and aerospace schools to take part in a “dead week” committee, which will examine the possibility of banning exams the week before final exam week; a need for people to take part in a project to clean the English Coulee; and the lottery for reserved parking in the new parking structure.
-- Jan Orvik, Writer/Editor, University Relations, email@example.com, 777-3621