New deans join university staff

IDEAS: Two freshmen deans have high hopes for upcoming years at UND.

Two new deans have joined UND staff for the start of the fall semester.

At a community reception Aug. 13, Grand Forks and UND officially welcomed Dr. Debbie Storrs to the College of Arts and Sciences and Dr. Robert Hill to the College of Education and Human Development.

Storrs came to UND from the University of Idaho, where she served for five years as the associate dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Science. Hill came here from the University of Utah, where he had been an assistant educational psychology professor since 1988 and served as chair of the Department of Educational Psychology during the 2011-2012 school year.

New goals for Arts and Sciences

Storrs said she has taken her transition to wrap her “head and hands around the college,” looking at things like resources for department chairs and how to best support students and faculty.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is the most diverse at the University of North Dakota with 18 departments,” she said. “We really are sort of the backbone and bedrock for students. We provide

education through essential studies.”

One way Storrs hopes to work with the various members of the college is to generate an “organic” strategic plan, in order to replace the college’s current strategic plan that hasn’t been revisited for several years.

“I want to collaboratively work with faculty and staff to identify a strategic plan that will help us identify the story and the narrative we can share with others,” Storrs said. “But also because it will help us identify what do we have in common, the key thing that holds us together?”

Storrs hopes the plan will be one that the college revisits frequently and that relies on metrics and data to guide its goals. Tentatively, she hopes to have a plan by the end of the academic year to help students, faculty, colleagues and alumni understand why a liberal arts education is so essential.

“Where else but my college can you learn the important and perspective skills to be the problem solvers in North Dakota,” Storrs said.

Storrs also said the strategic plan will center on some key themes that are consistent with Exceptional UND, such as enhancing student learning with transformational learning experiences. She wants to use things like the SCALEUP room in the basement of O’Kelly hall, as well as engaging and connecting with the community, which is something Storrs says the college is already doing well.

During the annual faculty bus tour earlier this month, Storrs says she “gained an appreciation for the kind of student body” she would be working with.

“It helped me understand the kind of learning opportunities and experiences students at UND need,” Storrs said. “I think our job at UND is to provide students with the breadth of opportunities that they couldn’t get in their home communities. I have a much deeper appreciation for the scale at which we have to provide that for students.

“I wanted to help lead a college to help contribute to solving complex problems. But I also wanted to be somewhere where there were resources.”

Hill to focus on course quality

Hill’s new job will involve overseeing over 100 faculty members along with five academic departments — a different perspective from when he was a department chair.

He was drawn to UND because of the people. Since he grew up in a rural area in central California, he appreciates the close-knit feeling that UND prides itself on and the values instilled in its students.

“There is a lot of integrity in folks here,” Hill said in a UND press release.

This has made it easy for Hill to adjust to his new surroundings. He is especially fascinated with the Native American culture on campus and says he can’t wait to learn more about it, plus he loves the new eco-friendly Education Building.

Specific changes that Hill is excited about include a new online reading certification program and a teacher-training exchange program with universities in Canada. This would provide students the experience of studying abroad, yet staying  close to home.

Overall, it is Hill’s love of students that makes him enjoy his job so much. He admires the new ideas they come up with.

“I love seeing students trying to become themselves,” he said in a UND press release. “And sometimes, I can be a part of that.”

Editor-in-Chief, Carrie Sandstrom contributed to this report.

Jaye Millspaugh is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]