Director of Essential Studies Search
Position Description & Expectations
Essential Studies is the University of North Dakota’s award-winning general education program. Developed by the faculty as the cornerstone of a liberal education, the program is built to provide students with breadth of knowledge across a range of disciplines while also emphasizing student learning in critical analysis, communication, intercultural skills, information literacy, and quantitative reasoning. The program is committed to both teaching these skills and helping students understand their value.
The Director of Essential Studies provides vision and leadership, and advocates for excellence in general education for all undergraduate students at UND. The Director coordinates the program; collaborates with academic units in the development and ongoing validation of a broad array of Essential Studies courses; works closely with faculty, staff, and advisors to inspire innovative teaching and campus-wide understanding of the program; and communicates the value of the liberal arts and supports student success in interactions with individual students and the larger campus. Working collaboratively, the Director will develop strategic initiatives and promote innovation across the undergraduate Essential Studies curriculum while ensuring its academic quality and integrity.
This position is a 12-month appointment and will include 60% administrative duties as director of the Essential Studies program (general education at UND). In addition to the administrative work associated with this position, the chosen candidate will be expected to teach at least one course each semester within the Essential Studies Program (20% effort). The remaining 20% effort will be distributed across the domains of teaching, service, and research in accordance with the needs of the person’s home department/school/college.
In performing the duties of Director of Essential Studies (general education at UND), this individual will report to the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and will work closely with the University Senate Essential Studies Committee (ESC), academic units, faculty, and other stakeholders.
Vision, Leadership, and Advocacy
- Work with the Essential Studies Committee, the faculty, and stakeholders across campus to align the ES program with the strategic vision outlined in the UND LEADS strategic plan.
- Provide vision and leadership for the program, particularly in communicating with students, faculty, staff, and administration the importance of the program, its objectives, and its requirements.
- Affirm the value of a liberal arts education through effective, campus-wide communication.
- Serve as liaison to academic units and leadership throughout the University, and to support units, including Student Academic and Career Services (SASCE), the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy (TTaDA), Student Affairs, Registrar's Office, and Enrollment Services.
- Align the program with national and university best practices in general education, state higher education policies, and university mission and vision.
- Serve as ex-officio member on the University Senate Essential Studies, Curriculum, and Assessment Committees.
- Serve as UND’s delegate and spokesperson for general education at state and national meetings and conferences. Participate in such events to ensure that UND is part of state and national conversations in matters relating to general education.
Implementation and Coordination of ES Program
- Work with faculty, program directors, chairs, and deans to ensure that an optimal number of general education/Essential Studies courses will be offered each semester, on campus and online, in relation to program goals and requirements, departmental four-year plans, and university retention, persistence, and completion goals.
- Work with faculty, program directors, chairs, and deans to promote the creation of innovative or interdisciplinary program courses, especially those integrating High-Impact Practices (HIPs) in teaching and learning.
- Facilitate the implementation of the program and address issues that may arise in coordination with departments, colleges/schools, and other university units.
- Work with departments to educate and support their chairs, faculty, and advisors about the validation & revalidation of ES courses. Work with the ES Committee to support a positive and effective process for the ES validations and revalidations.
- Work with students who have questions or concerns about their general education/Essential Studies programs of study. This includes helping and advising them about petitions, course choices, and alternative options for successfully completing their requirements.
- Collaborate with advisors—both professional and faculty—to provide advice and guidance about the program that is accurate and helpful. Support advisors by providing up-to-date program information and help them educate students about the purposes and value of general education/Essential Studies learning.
- Collaborate with program course instructors so they are knowledgeable about the program’s larger goals and aware of how their own teaching can contribute to the ES learning goals.
Assessment of General Education/the Essential Studies Program
- Work with the Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Accreditation to develop, manage, and conduct assessment activities for the program, including its effectiveness in promoting student learning outcomes as well as student retention and completion. This includes direct assessments by ES learning outcome and other assessments that might be developed to help UND examine what our students are learning in their general education/Essential Studies work.
- Host (or co-host) campus discussions on the results of assessment activities so that UND “closes the loop” on assessment activities for the purpose of analyzing and goal-setting related to improvement of student learning in the program.
Promotion of Essential Studies
Develop web-based or social media and other informational materials that help prospective and current students, parents, faculty, staff, and advisors understand and promote the purposes and benefits of a quality general education, with specific links to the Essential Studies program as a means for students to gain a quality general education that will help them succeed in the workplace and in their communities.
Coordinate with the Faculty Development unit in the Teaching & Transformation Development Academy, and with the VPFA, to create and implement support systems for program instructors and advisors for enhancing the delivery and promotion of general education/Essential Studies learning.
- Manage program related business.
- Ensure proper and effective keeping and maintaining of program records. Coordinate records management with the Office of the Registrar and with the Essential Studies Committee.
- Ensure support for campus stakeholders: students, faculty, advisors, administration, and the public.
- Daphne Pedersen, Department of Sociology, Committee Chair
- Melissa Gjellstad, Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, A&S Representative
- Mark Jendrysik, Department of Political Science & Public Administration, NoCBPA Representative
- Clement Tang, Department of Mechanical Engineering, CEM Representative
- Barb Kitko, Department of Social Work, CNPD Representative
- MayLynn Riding In, Department of Education, Health, & Behavior Studies, EHD Representative
- Michael Dodge, Department of Space Studies, JDOSAS Representative
- Brooke Solberg, Department of Medical Lab Sciences, SMHS Representative
- Kaylee Scheer, Academic Core Advisor
- Evan Moedl, Commercial Aviation Major, Undergraduate Student Representative
- Maggie Weber, Nursing Major, Undergraduate Student Representative