John Girard said he's excited to be taking over as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs for the North Dakota University System on July 1.
"I think it's a great opportunity," said Girard, a tenured full professor at Minot State University, where he has taught graduate and undergraduate business classes since 2004 and served in various administrative roles.
Girard was on sabbatical from Minot State with the Semester at Sea program when he chose to take the associate vice chancellor's position. Semester at Sea, run by the not-for-profit organization Shipboard for Education, is a cruise ship that has been converted into a traveling campus.
Girard served as faculty advisor to the State Board of Higher Education from 2010 through 2012 and has also gotten to know University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani well.
He was away during most of the controversy that has dogged the board of higher education and Shirvani in recent months, so said Monday that he is not ready to offer comment on it. However, Girard said some controversy when a change is under way is not unusual. He said he is supportive of Shirvani's efforts to change the university system and improve graduation rates. Girard said he would not be interested in going to work at the university system office if it was "status quo." He said he's confident that there are innovative people in the university system office who are working to ensure the success of students in North Dakota. Girard said policy makers have made it loud and clear that they want a change in the current system.
Girard said there might still be some disagreement over the Chancellor's Pathways to Student Success plan and how it will work, but he believes there's still some tweaking that will be done. He said he thinks there will be room for dialogue between the university system and those questioning certain details of the plan.
The North Dakota University System is fortunate to be so well-funded by the Legislature and to have strong support from policy makers, unlike other university systems in the country, said Girard.
Girard said he loved his eight years at Minot State University and will miss it. He has lived in Minot longer than in any other place since he graduated from college, he said.
"We are pleased and honored to have Dr. Girard join our staff," said Shirvani, in a press release. "He has the education and the depth and breadth of experience that make him the perfect candidate for this position."
According to the release, Girard has a doctorate degree and a master's degree in business administration from Touro University International in California and a bachelor of science degree in computer science from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. His current research interests include knowledge management, social media, virtual business, online education and globalization. Girard is the founder and chief knowledge strategist of Sagology, a firm dedicated to connecting people to facilitate collaboration, learning and knowledge sharing through keynotes, workshops and consulting. He has received multiple scholarly awards and has published four books and a wealth of articles and reviews.
Girard served in the Canadian Forces and retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2004 after 24 years in uniform.