Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Changes at UND

Face it...UND is the engine that drives Grand Forks. That engine has been undergoing a series of major changes lately. There are so many things going on at UND that it is almost hard to keep track of them all. A short review is in order...

President Charles Kupchella is leaving his post at the end of this school year and a nationwide search is being undertaken to find his successor.

The UND athletic programs are all being reclassified to NCAA Division I.

The UND/NCAA Fighting Sioux logo and nickname lawsuit was recently settled outside of court. Although UND has three years to gain tribal support for the nickname, I doubt most of us really think that will happen. I feel strongly that...for better or for worse...in a few years UND athletics will have a new nickname and logo.

The UND Athletic Director, Tom Buning, has resigned his post and a search will now have to be undertaken to find his successor. What should UND look for in a new AD? Clearly, a new AD would have many, many issues on his plate. Another issue facing UND athletics is facilities...a new football stadium is not out of the question for some time in the future.

NDSU has grown dramatically in recent years. This year, NDSU now has almost as many students as UND does...the two campuses have never been so close in this critical number. Will NDSU grow larger than UND or will UND soon experience another growth spurt? UND was founded as and has remained as the flagship university in the state...would a larger NDSU hurt UND's prestige?

Universities...and UND in particular...are no longer exclusively educational endeavors. While UND still exists primarily to educate, it has also been experiencing dramatic growth in research projects. Also, fundraising has become a major issue facing UND. For instance, a campaign will soon be launched to increase UND's endowment to $500 million...a seemingly astronomical sum.

Clearly this is a time of change...major change...at UND. I'm sure I'm leaving out other ongoing and upcoming changes. I'm curious how you think UND will pass through this era. Will a better campus emerge? What would you like to see in a new UND President? Will education start to take a backseat to research and fundraising? What will UND be 5 years from now? How about 15 or 30 years from now? The UND of the future is being shaped today and I'm curious what you think that UND will be like.

29 comments:

vcsuvike said...

I think it's just a normal process to have this many changes. I hope the new president will be more aggressive on recruiting students and research. Although UND was right in raising their application standards, they stopped concentrating on recruiting and academics. The nickname battle has taken too much time from the campus. In my opinion, it is time to change the name and move on. Let's hope in a couple years UND will be back to running on all cylinders.

Elucidarian said...

Will education start to take a backseat to research and fundraising?

That's my concern. I'm sure many business-minded people are going to look at that as progress, but academia is bigger than any economic zeitgeist. A university's primary role is to broaden the minds of young adults as well as preparing them for the life beyond educations. A college student should be exposed to the way things are and the way things could be. There must be a balance. And, this university, this entire community, must ask itself "How big is big enough." "Must we expand our size to increase our quality of living?" I hate to see development for development's sake when we could be spending time and money to improve what we already have.

Matthew said...

Exactly. Teaching is already taking a backseat to research, at least in some departments. As a state institution, UND should be about education, not about making money from faculty and student research.

Which immediately raises the question, why do we need a DI athletics program anyway? There as been no shown correlation between athletics success and alumni donation (a reason many people often cite), and if we are like most public universities with DI athletics, our program is already running in the red and taking money away from academics. Look at Yale, Harvard and the other Ivies: strong academics, amazing research programs, and all without the help of ludicrously expensive DI programs.

(If you want sources, this has been posted here before, but "Beer and Circus" by Murray Sperber (2001) is a very interesting read).

Dan said...

I went to Iowa State back in the late 80s and ISU was and still is a big name school with 25,000 undergrads. It was very common then as now for many courses to be taught by grad assistants with professors really pushed to do grant proposals and get money into the university in the name of research. That was the name of the game in the 90s til now as ISU goal was to become the best land grant university in the nation, with the focus you here from
Alumni magazines is research and how much money is brought into the university by companies and little about teaching.

I said...

You're right, athletics doesn't drive alumni dollars. It's about visibility and prospective alumni. Florida's incoming freshmen application rate increased by 15% this summer. Why? I'd guess its national championship in football and second straight in men's basketball had something to do with it.

While we won't win in those sports, having a presence is a big enough boost, apparently, for UND admins to give it a go.

Liz said...

I totally agree with Matthew about the D1 athletics move. I really don't understand it. When I tell friends and family across the country about the move, they usually say, "wow! why?" Good question.

As far as I'm concerned, the changes that are happening are good changes. I was happier than a pig in... mud... when I heard Kupchella was leaving. When I met him several times as a student, he came off an a pompous ass. The university will be better off with a new president and a new nickname. I might even give money as an alumni now that things are changing a bit... and I may go back for graduate school, something I was holding off on until things changed.

Anonymous said...

The fact is, UND is underfunded compared to peer institutions in other states by around 50% - which causes the need to create more and more research dollars in order to allow students to grow doing that research.

Anonymous said...

"The fact is, UND is Underfunded"

Does that mean it cost UND 50% less to educate a kid? I would like to hear more of your facts. Is the 50% on a per student or of comparable size or what?

As for New President, I would like someone like Tom Clifford. Someone who is rutted in ND and UND.

ec99 said...

An interesting discussion. Just a few comments:

1. UND didn't raise its admission standards, it raised its ACT score for automatic admission. There's a difference. UND says it's average ACT is now 21; that means for ever 30, there's a 12.

2. I too cringe at this D I business. Sperber and others have shown just what a disaster is has been for universities. Athletics are a parasite, sucking money away from the academic side, while the NCAA continues to spread all the myths. And, why would a university want a student who is so myopic as to base his decision on which place to go on the success of athletic teams?

3. Kupchella has been a disaster. Forget his lipservice, look at where the money is going: bricks and mortar, athletics, nickname. Students aren't there to learn, faculty aren't there to teach; both are their to generate revenue streams through tuition and grants. UND under him is now a business, not an institute of higher education.

4. Clifford was a disaster. Under his presidency, legislative funding for UND went into the toilet, big name faculty left (Dando, Oring, etc), salaries died, and buildings were actually put on a 100-year cycle of maintenance. His loyalty was to the people who made him president, not to the university. (Read up, btw, on the history of how he became president).

I said...

I don't think universities WANT myopic students choosing on athletic success. But with a 15% increased application rate (or any increase for that matter), a university can suddenly become a lot more selective.

Anonymous said...

I meant that the state underfunds the university - not that you or anyone else pays less in tuition than you would somewhere else. A similar sized university with a law school and a medical school in other states is usually given 150% of the state funding given UND. The university brings this up often when speaking to rising tuition costs.

Anonymous said...

" But with a 15% increased application rate (or any increase for that matter)"

You're guilty of post hoc ergo propter hoc. You need more evidence than a superificial enrollment/NCAA champioship relationship as proof. Maybe incoming student surveys might help.

local boy said...

Wow, what a depressing group of responses. I think UND will keep getting bigger and better as the years go by. The move to Division I will make us much more visible nationally. NDSU going Division I has helped their enrollment. I am proud to be a graduate (twice) of UND. Can you believe it? A POSITIVE POST! The rest of you are a bunch of whiners, or at least you come off that way.

ec99 said...

"The rest of you are a bunch of whiners"

You forgot to say "If you don't like it here, leave." Terrible omission on your part.

Anonymous said...

local boy...I was thinking the same thing. What a bunch of whiny crap to read at the end of a long day. Time to go back to the "What I love" thread.

local boy said...

ec99: Is it really that bad at UND? Do you attend UND? Are you a UND employee? What do you base your arguments on? I guess I wasn't aware that UND was the sinking ship that you say it is. You are the same person who whines about GF all the time aren't you? So let me ask you this...name an institution that is a "model university" in your mind. If you name Harvard or an Ivy League school, you are disqualified. Unless you are an insider at a university, do you really know what goes on behind the scenes? No. UND is a great mix of education, research and athletics...exactly what the majority wants. Oh, I forgot: don't let the door hit you....

local boy said...

ec99: You say Kupchella spent money on new buildings (damn, we should just leave all the old buildings up until they crumble)
you say he spent money on the move to Division I which is true and necessary. Finally, you pull the nickname issue out of the hat. The U of ND didn't spend any money on the lawsuit. Private donations paid for it. People chose to donate their money to this cause, would they have donated their money to another cause if the nickname thing wasn't happening? Perhaps, but we will never know.

Anonymous said...

"As for New President, I would like someone like Tom Clifford. Someone who is rutted in ND and UND."

When, exactly, is rutting season?

Did you go to UND?

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous 9:16

"Did you go to UND"

As a matter of fact I did and it may come as a surprise to a smart a$$ like yourself, but graduated with very good grades.

However I have dyslexia and it effects my spelling so please forgive me.

I think most people figured it out but if not, the word should have been rooted.

I hope putting others down makes you feel as great as you think you are.

Matthew said...

he spent money on the move to Division I which is true and necessary.

Why? Please elaborate.


-----
www.CampusDakota.com - Making life better, once student at a time

Nate said...

ec99-

you say that for every ACT score of 30, there's a 12. well, judging from your comment you must have scored in the 12 range on the math portion. It would be nearly impossible to have an incoming freshmen class at UND with ACT scores creating a normal curve with symmetric sides.

Anonymous said...

The average UND ACT score was 23.6, and moving higher with each incoming class.

local boy said...

Matthew...face it, UND needs to move to Division I. I highly doubt you are a sports fan, but give me a chance here. When you are Division I, you are more visible. Our neighbors to the south in Fargo moved up 4 years ago I believe, NDSU has never had more students enrolled. Have they shopped their academic programs around more? No. There is more exposure for their school in the region as well as the nation. Maybe a potential student has never heard of NDSU's academic programs, but when they see athletic success, they checkout the NDSU webpage. Most students have social lives that include college athletics. Students would rather go to a Division I game than a DII game against a lowlife like UMN-Crookston, Mankato State, Winona State, etc. There aren't many non-private schools out there who are leaders in academia and NOT Division I in academics. Peer institutions across the nation are Division I. Heck, Harvard is even DI. UND needs to "catch up" to schools similar in size and play in Division I instead of toil in Division II. Flame away.

undflyer said...

LocalBoy: Where do you get your KoolAid? Most students, employees and faculty could use some. Your comments really are ignorant to the truth of the matter: most stakeholders in the university beyond the Fighting Sioux (soon to be Flickertail) club do not agree with the move.

I'm a UND student who also hears a lot from faculty and even administration who decry Kupchella and the upper administration's lack of leadership.

Matthew said...

Local Boy, I'm assuming you meant to say "There aren't many non-private schools out there who are leaders in academia and NOT Division I in athletics."

As for Harvard being a peer (and I'm not trying to bring up an Ivy-League argument here), UND's enrollment this year is 12,834 (source) and Harvard's is 20,042 (source). UND is located in a small city, while Harvard is in a large metropolitan area. I'm really not sure how closely you can compare the two. The real question is, do people go to Harvard because they want to watch sports, or because they want a good education (the third option is that they want to join the 'good old boys' club, but I'm going to ignore that for now)?

Frankly, as a 4-year college athlete, I'd rather play sports than watch--this doesn't mean I'm not a fan, it just means that I'm more glad to see people doing what they want to do, rather than seeing them win all the time. I'm not trying to accuse people of being idiots, but it seems like using sports to recruit students who want to watch sports all the time is counter to the idea of making this university better as a whole--although it does bring in those sheep who are willing to pay for a sub-par education just so they can say that their team won the game last weekend.

If UND really wants to 'stand out,' maybe they could up their standards on the education they are providing to the students already here, rather than trying to bring in more students to make their numbers look better while losing money in the process.

Flaming? I try not to.

local boy said...

Matthew, you put a lot of time into that one, even citing sources and pointing out my insertion of the wrong word. Nice work. The only way to solve this one is to have a scientific poll taken asking the community and the campus what they think about the move to DI. How do you figure that UND is a "subpar education"? Do I need to cite various sources such as US News and World Report? Take a look at where UND ranks in relation to peer institutions. We are doing great, the move up to D I will bring additional exposure. For every televised game, ads will run promoting the University. I am not going to respond to anything else on this thread, as I have a large amount of respect for GFG and this blog, and don't wish to give this subject any more of my time. My stance: Bottom line, UND is a great academic AND athletic institution, and we will only be better in 5 years, what an exciting time for UND!

Matthew said...

I wasn't trying to put you down, just making sure I understood you. I like to cite sources because so many people don't. It's just the way I am.

It all comes down to opinion, like a lot of other things. I've enjoyed discussing the issue with you, Local Boy, and I hope you continue to stick around and communicate with everyone else!

Just Wonderin' said...

"UND was founded as and has remained as the flagship university in the state..."

WOW. Now that is funny. Can you elaborate on what exactly makes UND the "flagship" of the state please?

ec99 said...

When Baker was president, he was directed by the SBHE to cease uses the term "Flagship Institution"; you will never see in used in official press releases by UND. It's the old ND egalitarianism at work; didn't want the other institutions to feel inferior.