From the Dean

Wow! What a week! I hope that the severe weather was no more than an inconvenience to you, and that you and your family are safe…and warm! We had a problem with the furnace at our home in the midst of the cold spell, and were reminded again of how vulnerable all of us are to the vagaries of Mother Nature. And among the inconveniences at work, we will have to reschedule the annual Faculty Assembly that was scheduled for this past Wednesday afternoon but was cancelled since UND was closed due to the extreme weather. It is during the Faculty Assembly that I deliver the State of the School address. We will find a time soon to re-schedule; as I mentioned before, everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

And here is a teaser (used in marketing to try to get you to do something, like attend the rescheduled Faculty Assembly): I’m going to show the various ways that the UND SMHS positively impacts the people of the state. Here’s just one example: In preparing for the State of the School address, I was studying a trove of data that the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) compiles on each medical school in North America. It turns out that about a decade ago, two out of three of all North Dakotans who went to medical school did so at UND; the remaining students went elsewhere in the nation (and were less likely to return than those who remained in-state). Just last year, however, the percent who stayed in-state at the UND SMHS was all the way up to 83 percent, meaning that only about one out of six entering medical students from North Dakota went to an out-of-state medical school in 2018. If you’d like to learn more about what our School does and where we hope to go as an institution, please watch this column for an announcement about the re-scheduled Faculty Assembly.

Finally, the North Dakota Legislature continues to study and discuss the SMHS budget that is part of House Bill 1003, which contains the consolidated budget of the North Dakota University System. The School’s budget situation was one of the main topics of discussion a week ago Monday when the House Appropriations Committee – Education and Environment Division devoted some committee work time to discussing our budget, following the more formal presentation that Dave Molmen, chair of our Advisory Council, and I gave the prior week. Dave conveyed to the committee the funding recommendations of the SMHS Advisory Council: 1) approval of the needs-based budget endorsed by UND and the State Board of Higher Education; 2) a change in the funding source for some of the dollars supporting the Healthcare Workforce Initiative that is expanding the team of people who provide healthcare throughout the state (from “one-time” to “base” funding); and 3) approval of a four percent annual merit pool (four percent for each of the two fiscal years in the biennium). The Committee may well have further questions for us as time goes on, and we anticipate that we will be testifying in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee in early to mid-March.

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