From the Dean

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UND Homecoming 2018 is in full swing! There have been a variety of activities already this week, including the Sioux Awards banquet last night at the Alerus Center. Among the honorees was basketball great and Williston, N.D., native Phil Jackson, who was one of the recipients of this year’s Sioux Awards. As you might imagine, everyone wanted to say hello to Phil, and as a former basketball fanatic, I enjoyed the opportunity to be introduced to him. It was a fun evening—and the Alerus Center was jammed! DeAnna Carlson-Zink, the CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, told me earlier in the week that all of the major events at Homecoming 2018 were fully subscribed—there were more than 600 people at the Sioux Awards, and even though others wished to attend, the Alerus Center staff told DeAnna that they simply could not accommodate any more attendees! What a wonderful thing for UND!

As I’ve mentioned before, there are a variety of Homecoming activities at the SMHS today; here is a list. At the School’s banquet tonight, we have over 80 registrants, so it promises to be a fun evening. Perhaps the highlight will be the comments of former Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology Chair and retired Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Ed Carlson. Ed has been associated with the SMHS for many years, and it will be fun to hear him reminisce and consider how far we’ve come since the “old days”—but it will also be good to remember and celebrate the roots from which we came. Ed was chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology when I first arrived at UND, and was one of the folks who interviewed me. So Ed and I go way back. That was in the days when we had four separate basic science departments at the School and before they merged into the current Department of Biomedical Sciences, chaired by Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Colin Combs (who will follow Professor Carlson tonight with additional comments).

On another note, I bumped into Kathy Gershman, former professor in the UND College of Education & Human Development, on Wednesday. She was visiting our building to look at our student lounge, study, and relaxation spaces for ideas to be used when the former Oxford House—more recently the J. Lloyd Stone Alumni Center prior to the opening of the Gorecki Alumni Center—is renovated for use as a space for graduate and international students to gather. She and husband Hal just announced a marvelous $3 million gift to fund the renovation efforts. The building was built in 1903, and while it has many wonderful and quaint features, it clearly needed to be updated if it was going to be used in the future. Most of our students are graduate students, and some are international, so many of them likely will utilize the new and renovated Oxford House. So on behalf of UND, thanks so much to the Gershmans for their generosity and thoughtfulness.

Finally, I’ll end with a bit of shameless self-promotion. Please consider joining me and other UND colleagues at this year’s inaugural Faculty Lecture Series. I’ve been invited to give the kick-off lecture this coming Wednesday, September 26, 2018, in the UND Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. There will be a reception at 4 p.m. and the talk starts at 4:30 p.m. My talk is titled “From Throat Ache to Heartache – A Tale of Rheumatic Fever Through Time and Across Continents,” and it recounts the battle against rheumatic heart disease over the past century. Much progress has been made in the fight, but rheumatic heart disease remains endemic and a major cause of disability and death in too many developing countries. I’ll recount my team’s efforts to aid in the fight, and review our seminal studies of a less-invasive way of dealing with the ravages of rheumatic fever on the heart. We carried out these projects in India, and I’ll also discuss some of the challenges of bringing together two cardiac care teams from two different countries and cultures. I think you’ll enjoy the presentation and the discussion. I hope to see you there!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
UND Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences