GRAND FORKS – UND is one of two American universities to have received the ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation from the American Council on Education.
According to an ACE press release, UND received the award along with MassBay Community College in Massachusetts. The award was created to recognize institutions that have responded to higher education challenges in innovative ways and achieved dramatic change in a relatively short period of time. The award includes a prize of $10,000.
UND President Andrew Armacost received the award at a ceremony in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, March 6.
“The University of North Dakota is truly honored and grateful to be recognized as an institution of higher education responding to the difficult challenges of our time through innovation and creativity,” Armacost said. “We approach our mission with a commitment to meeting the needs not only of our students and the surrounding community, but also of North Dakota, the Upper Midwest region, and our nation.”
UND was recognized for the work done there to find new and innovative ways to make the local community a better place to live, learn, work and play, which culminated in the university, according to the release. and Grand Forks receiving the Larry Abernathy Award from the International Town & Gown Association in May 2021.
What started as a partnership with the city to fix potholes on University Avenue later expanded to matchmaking student interns in city services and cost-share internships at start-up companies. . A workforce development initiative was then created to align courses, programs, and labs to meet the needs of students and employers.
ACE also noted a dramatic 48% increase in the number of Grand Forks residents between the ages of 25 and 39. The population boom has been attributed in large part to UND’s strategies focused on integrating work-integrated learning into the classroom, as well as its internship programs.
ACE also cites UND’s partnership with the US Space Force and the state. In August, UND became the first university to join the US Space Force University Partnership Program, committing $8 million to faculty recruitment and space initiatives. The state also provided $14 million for space-related infrastructure to the UND and to build its capacity to meet the needs of the Space Force, as well as other agencies.
ACE President Ted Mitchell said the awards given to UND and MassBay are “well deserved”.
“The University of North Dakota and MassBay Community College should serve as examples of the kinds of innovation and transformation that not only benefit their own students, but also the communities they serve,” Mitchell said.
MassBay was recognized for solving a student retention issue related to basic needs. The community college conducted a study which found that 52% of students had low or very low food security. Students were missing classes or unable to attend classes due to situations they faced in their personal lives. The college implemented different programs that connected students with food, housing, transportation, and other necessities, through its recently formed Food and Student Care Committee.
UND was recognized in the category of institutions with student populations over 12,001, while MassBay was recognized for institutions with fewer than 12,000 students.
The American Council on Education is a membership organization that represents all types of American public and private degree-granting institutions, with more than 1,700 member organizations. Financial services firm Fidelity Investments is one of the award sponsors.