From the Dean

Graduation weekend last week was a blast! I, along with fellow faculty, staff, and students, had a full dance card of activities Friday through Sunday as UND graduated over 1,900 students, including over 300 from the SMHS. There were department-specific activities like hooding ceremonies for graduating physician assistant and physical therapy students, an open house for occupational therapy students, a medical laboratory science reception, and senior colloquium presentations for graduating medical students. I had the pleasure of discussing healthcare systems and financing as well as contract negotiations with the med students on Friday to help prepare them for what will follow in their clinical careers.

Then the fun and excitement continued on Saturday when several of us participated in first Graduate and then Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. And then on Sunday we started off Mother’s Day with a Commencement Awards Brunch for graduating medical students, followed by Commencement in the Chester Fritz Auditorium. Students were recognized for their outstanding achievements during their time here at the School, and faculty members were recognized as well with the Dean’s Special Recognition Awards. The entire list of awardees is available here.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the Commencement address that was given by Dr. Walter “Willie” Kemp. The students select their graduation speaker, and Dr. Kemp gave a very warm and memorable address. One of his themes was the importance of establishing a real relationship between teacher and student, and one of the ways Dr. Kemp does this is by learning the name of each of his students. In his address, Willie thanked literally dozens of students by name for their many contributions to the learning environment. It was a warm and wonderful speech that we’ll remember for quite some time.

And if that were not enough celebrating, I was very pleased to attend the Sophomore Awards luncheon for medical students in the School’s Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium this past Wednesday. Eight second-year students were recognized for their outstanding contributions and achievements during the year. Awards were given for such attributes as contributions to group leadership and professionalism; peer teaching; and integration of basic sciences and clinical application. There also were awards for outstanding academic achievement.

In addition to recognizing the wonderful contributions of students, the students in turn recognized two outstanding teachers whom they encountered during their first and second years. The Portrait Award—probably the most prestigious teaching award at the School—was awarded by the students to none other than Walter Kemp, M.D., Ph.D., the senior students’ choice for their commencement speaker! And if that were not enough, Dr. Kemp also was the recipient of the Golden Apple Award from the second-year class for excellence in teaching. The Golden Apple Award presented by the first-year class went to Jane Dunlevy, Ph.D. So heart-felt congratulations are extended to the honorees and also to the entire second-year medical student class. And special congratulations to Drs. Dunlevy and Kemp for their repeat performances as outstanding teachers!

And congratulations are in order as well for Dr. Donald Warne, director of the Indians Into Medicine (INMED) Program, chair of the Master of Public Health Program, and associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, who recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to present his work on adverse childhood experiences on tribal communities at the National Indian Health Board Tribal Public Health Summit plenary session. While there, he had the opportunity to visit with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H.

So it has been a very fulfilling and energizing May. I am very proud of the hard work, dedication, altruism, and efforts of our faculty, staff, and especially students. Thanks to the hard work of all of you, our graduates are going out into the health care enterprise well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. I know that you join me in wishing them all the best in the future!

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