AVP for Academic Affairs and Interim Nursing Dean Steve Light looks to build on a strong foundation

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AVP for Academic Affairs and Interim Nursing Dean Steve Light looks to build on a strong foundation

An avid marathoner, Steve Light is an advocate for health and fitness.

Through his 14 years at the University of North Dakota, first as a faculty member and now as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Light also knows how leadership, a commitment to excellence, and teamwork help people achieve their highest goals.

The newly appointed interim dean of the UND College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines aims to help the College build on its long and fruitful history of promoting the health and wellness of the public it serves.

And that, Light says, includes its focus on top-notch teaching and learning to help students reach their full potential; its support for research and scholarly activity that positively impacts individuals, families, and communities; and its outreach and assistance to healthcare providers and organizations across the state of North Dakota and beyond.

"I look forward to advancing the College's exceptional record of educating and developing outstanding professionals across the fields of nursing, social work, and nutrition and dietetics," said Light, who also continues his role in the Office of the Provost.

"My goals for the College include enhancing collaboration across curriculum, programs, and College governance, creating opportunities for leadership development and professional success within the College, extending community outreach and partnerships, and developing a shared vision and roadmap for the College's bright future," Light said. He believes that these objectives clearly advance the College's mission and the University's Exceptional UND strategic vision.

Light recalled that when he was first appointed to the Provost's office several years ago, he was invited to tour the College, and was impressed by the caliber of the students.

"I happened to be there during a celebration for new undergraduate nursing majors," Light said. "I met every one of them, including a young woman from rural North Dakota who wanted to return and give back to a community like hers, and a young man from Wisconsin who was sold on UND because of what he had read online about the College's quality."

In addition to talented students, Light is excited to work with the entire College.

"In the recent conversations I've had with College faculty, staff, and alums, I've gotten a deep sense of the values that make the College exceptional," said Light.

As Light put it, these values include the following:

  • CARING—The value of caring that faculty and staff embody in helping students graduate and become successful practitioners, and of caring for the real people that clinicians and others help become whole and well every day.
  • COMMITMENT—The value of commitment by faculty and staff to their chosen fields and to the success of the College, to exceptional patient care and to developing healthy communities, and to the state of North Dakota.
  • CAMARADERIE—The value of camaraderie that the College embodies in fostering strong relationships within the College, with colleagues across UND, and with external partners and dedicated alums across the country.

"With these qualities in mind, I will work with the College to ensure that we enhance personal and professional skills, provide clinical assistance and leadership across the state, especially in rural and underserved communities, and promote evidence-based teaching, practice, and research," Light said.

Light believes that the key building blocks for the College's continued success across teaching, research, and service rest on a foundation of the College's strengths:

  • Faculty and staff with first-rate knowledge, skills, and experience.
  • Commitment to talented students.
  • Public service and outreach to the state, region, and nation.
  • Developing and implementing best practices in teaching, learning, and training.
  • Building a research agenda, infrastructure, and capacity.

Although marathoning by definition requires patience, Light already has come out of the starting blocks quickly at the College and is looking to build momentum. Among his first steps was an all-college retreat that asked faculty and staff to work in teams on big-picture thinking to move forward on College objectives.

"That was really cool," Light said. "I was so impressed with how forward-thinking everyone was and how much they embraced the chance to renew their vision of the College."

He's also meeting with area healthcare partners and leadership across the College's programs: adult gerontology; advanced public health; family nurse practitioner; nurse anesthesia; nurse educator; psychiatric and mental health; nutrition and dietetics; social work; the doctorate in nursing; the new doctor of nursing practice; and the distinctive Recruitment/Retention of American Indians Into Nursing (RAIN) program.

The most fun for Light, though, is the chance to meet with all the student organizations and to get in the classroom to introduce himself and learn where the students want to take the College.

"We've already rolled up our sleeves, we're out of the gates, and we're geared up to build an exceptional future for the UND College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines," Light said.

About Steve Light

Steve Light, Ph.D., recently joined the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines as Interim Dean. Light also is UND's Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. In that role, he provides strategic vision and leadership to enrich teaching and learning and promote faculty and student success across the University.

Light is Professor of Political Science and Public Administration and teaches American government and constitutional law. He has received UND's highest annual award for overall faculty excellence.

As Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law & Policy with Kathryn Rand, Dean of UND School of Law, Light is a leading expert on tribally owned and operated casinos.

He is an avid marathoner and advocate for health and wellness, often sharing with UND audiences the connections he sees between running and both personal and professional values and leadership.

Juan Miguel Pedraza

University & Public Affairs writer

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