Kelley delivers state of the university address

Last week, UND President Robert Kelley gave his eighth State of the University address, in which he laid out the five goals for the university.

The goals that comprise the “Vision 2020 – Road to Success,” a five-year plan charting UND’s route to becoming an “exceptional university,” which centers around retention and graduation, enrollment, research, external funding and capacity.

Speaking to a full Memorial Union Lecture Bowl, Kelley talked about the five core institutional goals he has and will be pressing for the next half decade.

UND spokesman Peter Johnson said he thinks the goals are somewhat high-reaching, but that they aren’t impossible. “President Kelley would agree that many of the goals are stretch goals, but I think they are attainable,” Johnson said. “It will take faculty, staff, administrators and students working together to achieve the goals.”

The five goals include moving from this year’s nationally below average 80 percent fall to fall freshman retention rate to 90 percent, increasing enrollment from just under 15,000 students to 16,000, boosting sponsored program expenditures from $99.1 to $125 million, supporting faculty and increasing scholarship funds by an additional $100 million and renovating approximately 100 classrooms.

Despite the ambitiousness of the plan, audience members were overall supportive of Kelley’s message.

“The State of the University was very well attended and very well received,” Johnson said.

Kelley was straightforward about needing support in the five-year plan.

“I’m going to be asking for a lot of help for the university going forward,” Kelley said in his speech.

Reflecting on the overall state of UND, Kelley recalled the on the school’s last year with pride.

“We are doing what it is the state wants us to do, and we are doing it, I think, exceptionally well,” Kelley said.

This year UND’s freshman class ACT score average was just under 24, and the group of students maintained a median grade point average of 3.4, the highest in the history of any entering class.

Kelley thinks that UND will be able to increase the enrollment without lowering admission standards, and the president said his goal is to have students get their degrees in four years, increasing the turnover and pushing more young adults through the university.

“If we retain our students, and if we graduate our students in a reasonable amount of time, and if we recruit more students through all of the incentives that we put before students primarily outstanding exceptional programs we will be able to increase the enrollments on this campus to the goal of 16,000 students in five years,” Kelley said.

Kelley also talked about continuing to build up UND’s library, stating that the institution plans on spending approximately $7.8 million on library expansion and renovation.

“A strong library is absolutely core,” Kelley said. “It’s central to the success of our research enterprise.”

Kelley said he wants to keep the public informed so it understands what changes are being made and how it’s all working.

“I want to keep it transparent so people understand the goals and actions of the university,” Kelley said.

Marie Monson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].