Colleen Fitzgerald, PhD

Colleen Fitzgerald, PhD, is the vice president for research and creative activity at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and is responsible for advancing and supporting research, creative activity, technology transfer, entrepreneurship and economic development activities for NDSU.

In this role, Colleen leads the vision and executes the strategy to advance the research and innovation enterprise at NDSU, a land-grant and the state's only Carnegie R1 institution. NDSU reached a new milestone with $174.9 million in research expenditures in the most recent fiscal year (FY22), which places the institution among the top 100 public research universities according to the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development Survey (HERD).

Colleen brings an insightful eye and keen strategic awareness on how the distinctive strengths of an institution and region, like North Dakota State University and North Dakota, create opportunities for partnerships working towards a shared vision of a better future. Essential to this is being able to recognize and communicate the valuable and interwoven nature between the institutional mission, the region's unique resources, and the institution's regional and national significance, and how partnerships enhance meaningful and powerful alignment among those elements.

While at NDSU, two examples of this are seen in efforts strategizing a successful push for a National Science Foundation I-Corps Hub (the NDSU-led Great Plains I-Corps Hub) and collaboratively building a statewide, multi-sector partnership that secured a finalist spot for North Dakota in the highly vaunted National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines Type-2 competition. Her approach deliberately leverages the better aligned resources into significance for the research and innovation enterprise, while also accomplishing highly impactful social benefit.

An advocate for researchers, Colleen seeks to highlight NDSU faculty to ensure their accomplishments reach a wider audience and help to show the value proposition underlying NDSU research.  

Her accomplishments as a scholar focused on supporting Native American language communities in their efforts to revitalize and document their languages. For those efforts, she was recognized as a Fellow of both the Linguistic Society of the America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Prior to NDSU, Colleen served as Associate Vice President for Research at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC), a Hispanic-serving Institution. Charged with fostering and increasing interdisciplinary research, Dr. Fitzgerald coached teams to success at TAMU-CC, in high dollar awards; in first-time $1M+ federal grants; and in first federal grants. Prior to TAMU-CC, Colleen served the National Science Foundation during a four-year term as a rotating program officer, running an interagency funding partnership between NSF and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Documenting Endangered Languages (now also Dynamic Language Infrastructure- Documenting Endangered Languages).  This complex partnership involved four directorates at NSF and two divisions at NEH. She also worked on two key initiatives prioritized by the Office of the Director: Navigating the New Arctic and NSF INCLUDES. Her term as a rotator capped off 11 years as a faculty member and former Department Chair for Linguistics and TESOL at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). While Chair, Colleen fostered a thriving research culture, attentive both to UT Arlington’s push to achieve higher levels of funding in the state of Texas, and to the initiatives supporting departmental graduate and undergraduate students, critical at a minority-majority institution. Earlier in her career, after joining Texas Tech University in 2002 as an assistant professor, Dr. Fitzgerald directed the linguistics program while a faculty member in the English Department (2003-2008).  This was preceded by faculty appointments at SUNY Buffalo, San José State University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Colleen earned graduate degrees in linguistics from the University of Arizona (PhD, 1997; MA; 1994) and her undergraduate degree in French from Loyola University (New Orleans; BA, 1991).


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