From the Dean

Given that the North Dakota Legislature is expected to wrap up its session in the next 10 days or so, we will soon know the specifics of our appropriated budget provided by state funding. We don’t expect any surprises, but still need further clarity on certain issues like the merit increase pool. I’m very pleased that funding is being provided for such a purpose, since our faculty and staff have now gone for some time without merit increases. But as I indicated previously, it is likely that it won’t be until May that the specifics of the salary increases become available, which will be after the budget bill is signed by Governor Burgum and our budget approved by the State Board of Higher Education and UND.

As you undoubtedly know, President Kennedy is the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Colorado. Here is the status of that process: President Kennedy will be traveling next week to the four campuses of the Colorado system and visiting with faculty, staff, and students there. With feedback from those constituencies, the Colorado Board of Regents then will meet and make a final decision on his candidacy. Assuming that they offer him the job and he accepts, Mark’s tenure at UND likely will end on June 15. Until the Regents meet, though, other speculation is just that–speculation. So we’ll just have to wait and see what transpires.

But under the “life goes on” banner, we only are about three weeks away from graduation! I can well remember my own excitement as I approached my medical school graduation years ago. The medical student class of 2019 has invited Walter Kemp, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the SMHS Department of Pathology, to give the address during their graduation ceremony at the Chester Fritz Auditorium on May 12. Dr. Kemp’s talk is titled, “An educator to his students: thank you for one last chance to teach you.” Likewise, former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp will address UND graduate students on the morning of May 11, and U.S. Air Force Sec. Heather Wilson will address UND undergraduate students in the afternoon of May 11. Both of those ceremonies will be at the Alerus Center. All three events promise to be memorable and fun for our graduates.

Graduation weekend is a busy time for Susan and me as we try to attend as many of the events that weekend as we can. Over 300 students will graduate from our eight degree programs (medicine, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, medical laboratory science, master of public health, biomedical sciences/clinical and translational research, and athletic training). Some—like almost all of the graduating medical students—will be headed for further training (like the residency programs that medical students must complete before getting a license to practice clinical medicine), while others will be headed directly to clinical practice. But regardless of where they are going, they head out from UND well-prepared for the future.

One of the skills and practices that we stress with all of our students is the importance of lifelong learning. As I indicated above, I graduated from medical school a while ago, but my own field of cardiology has grown and evolved a lot over the years. That has required me to stay up-to-date through continuing medical education courses and lectures so that I can practice the best medicine possible. I am confident that our students as well understand the imperative to continue to learn as long as they are engaged in the health delivery enterprise, even years and years after their graduation (just like I do). Because I’m sure that they understand the importance of lifelong learning, I’m also sure we’ll be in good hands when we need medical care in the future!

Finally, on Wednesday of next week, April 24, we will participate in the inaugural UND Gives campaign. UND Gives is a 24-hour online fundraising challenge that aims to rally philanthropic support for UND initiatives, including our trailblazing and highly successful Indians into Medicine (INMED) Program. We at the SMHS are challenging donors to support INMED’s priority needs for middle and high school students, pre-med students, and medical and health sciences students. Please join Susan and me in supporting INMED students, faculty, and staff as they carry forward the UND legacy.

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