U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad and Rosemarie Nassif, a special advisor with the U.S. Department of Education, lauded the University of North Dakota for its commitment to teaching and learning during a recent dedication of the school’s remodeled and expanded Education Building.
In conjunction with UND homecoming events, the dedication ceremony took place on campus at the new and improved College of Education and Human Development headquarters. Other speakers included University President Robert Kelley and Dan Rice, dean of the college.
Emphasizing UND’s “green initiative” and good stewardship of resources, the Education Building was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Silver LEED certification is being pursued. Renovations and new additions include 14 classrooms, two lecture halls, four seminar rooms, five conference rooms and faculty offices.
Conrad expressed how the new education building was another indicator of vibrant growth and success at the University.
“This is really a period when UND is soaring,” Conrad said, during the dedication. “UND is moving in a very, very positive way.”
Conrad is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and played a lead role in the project’s $11.2 million funding, which came primarily from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed by Congress. The funds were dispersed to the states by the U.S. Department of Education.
"This new Education Building reflects the innovation taking place throughout the University of North Dakota,” Conrad said. “In that spirit, the building is LEED certified - providing a model for environmental leadership that I hope will serve as an example for other projects in the region. UND is a shining example of the education and leadership opportunities available in our state."
Nassif used her time to stress the importance of the role of education to personal and global well-being, and how the new facility on campus will play a role in educating the teachers of tomorrow.
“What a building,” Nassif said. “It’s a visual sign of the importance this University puts on teaching and learning education.”
Nassif said UND is does four of the most important things in teaching education extremely well. It recruits, prepares and retrains talented teachers. It recruits teaching candidates from minority backgrounds, specifically American Indians. It provides excellent, supervised clinical experiences for students in real classrooms. It provides 21st century facilities and technologies for its students.
"This building does much to serve all of those teaching and learning functions,” Nassif said. “It makes a quality statement of excellence in teaching and learning.”
Nassif is the special advisor to Eduardo Ochoa, assistant secretary for postsecondary education. She served 11 years as president of Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif., and was president of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. A native of St. Louis, Mo., she earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
As a special advisor in the Department of Education, she advances a wide range of issues in higher education related to reform, improvement and innovation. She develops internal and external partnerships, collaborates with stakeholders, leads studies and develops positions on matters of national need or special interest. She is also involved in outreach activities to raise public awareness on higher education initiatives.
The first major renovation to the Education Building since 1953 began in spring 2009, thanks to an appropriation ARRA funding from the North Dakota Legislature to completely remodel the facility and build an addition that linked it with Gillette Hall.
ARRA funding for the project was made available through the office of then-North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven. The State Board of Higher Education also authorized an additional $1.4 million for small equipment items, which must come from external fund-raising or internal reallocation.
The finished project modernizes learning environments for on-campus students and provides hybrid learning spaces to accommodate the needs of distance learners. The design encourages interactive research across the disciplines in the College of Education and Human Development.
Dean Rice said that about $75,000 of the renovation cost came from the University to update and upgrade technology features, while another $800,000 was given by donors and friends of the college.
Rice reminded those who attended the dedication what really matters to his college.
“This day maybe all about a building, but we must always remember that it’s truly all about the people inside of it.”