|Faculty Q&A with Graduate Dean Joseph Benoit|
Editor’s Note: Joseph Benoit, dean of the University of North Dakota Graduate School, seven years ago launched the annual Scholarly Forum, which has become the premier occasion on campus for faculty and graduate students to showcase their research, scholarship, and creative activity projects. But it’s also developed into a much more broadly purposed event that includes an increasingly popular networking opportunity for undergraduates looking to open doors into grad school.
Additionally, faculty now see the Scholarly Forum as a yardstick to help them assess whether and to what extent their grad students are cutting the academic mustard.
In the following Q&A with UND Office of University Relations writer Juan Miguel Pedraza, Dean Benoit, who holds a faculty appointment as full professor in the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Therapeutics talks about how got the Scholarly Forum going, what he sees as important to this event, and where it’s going.
Click on the audio link to listen to Dean Benoit talk more about cross-disciplinary collaboration, the SUNRISE model for this kind of research program, and the expanded opportunities for assessment that go hand-in-hand with the forum.
See http://www.graduateschool.und.edu/html/events.html for details about this year’s forum.
OUR: What is the Scholarly Forum and when did it start?
JB: The Scholarly Forum features the outstanding research and creative activities of UND graduate students and faculty. The forum on the UND campus began in 2002, shortly after I arrived as dean in 2001. I initiated the Forum as a means to feature the outstanding research and creative activities of our students and faculty.
OUR: What’s the concept behind the forum?
JB: The Scholarly Forum is designed on a model that exists at many campuses to feature scholarship. But we’ve expanded it here to include all things creative and scholarly. It includes performances, it includes artwork, it includes everything that our faculty and students do in the creative realm.
The forum has grown from about 50 papers to well over 100 and is really maturing well. I am really very pleased that the Scholarly Forum has continued to prosper. It has become the most significant research event on the UND campus and, as far as I know, it’s the largest showcase of research and creative scholarship within the North Dakota University System.
This year we continue the tradition with more that one hundred presentations over the two-day event.
This forum provides an opportunity for our faculty and students to present their work, to get feedback on their work. As we move forward as a major research university, we need to be more aware of the types of activities that are going on here. The interaction that results from the forum has already produced activity between departments.
This year’s forum will feature a session with the SUNRISE group on campus, which represents a real model for interaction between two departments in different colleges.
As a major research university, we need to be able to have opportunities for our faculty to find out that the collaborator they need isn’t half way round the world but just a block away.
OUR: You’ve noted the forum’s growth; any other significant changes?
JB: This year forum has changed its format slightly: rather than having external keynote speakers, we are focusing on UND faculty and students.
With that, we’ve instituted two Dean’s Lectures. I did that in conjunction with the 125the anniversary of the University, to highlight some of our new, younger faculty members who will really contribute significantly to the next 100 years of the University of North Dakota. We are changing the format slightly to feature some of our own who are gaining national and international acclaim.
This year’s lectures will feature Rebecca Weaver-Hightower from the Department of English and Diane Darland from the Department of Biology. Editor’s note: for specifics about the time and place for these lectures, see http://www.graduateschool.und.edu/html/events.html; hard copies of the Forum lineup will be available at the event. Rebecca Weaver-Hightower’s presentation will based, in part, on her recently published book “Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals, and Fantasies of Conquest”; see http://www2.und.edu/our/uletter/print_article.php?uletterID=2386
And see this page about Diane Darland: http://www.und.edu/dept/biology/darland.htm