From the Dean

It has been quite a gratifying week since the State Board of Higher Education met last Thursday and confirmed me as interim president of UND, starting June 16, 2019. Since the announcement, I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the many congratulatory and supportive messages I’ve received from both within and outside of the UND community. To all who were in touch, I again extend my profound gratitude and thanks for your kind thoughts. Susan and I are excited about the new position and look forward to the coming months with great enthusiasm.

I’m now in the process of talking with a wide spectrum of people—both from within UND and throughout North Dakota and the country!—regarding the direction ahead for the University. So far, though, there has been broad consensus with the phrase that I mentioned in last week’s column regarding UND–“Moving forward…striving for excellence.” I’m excited to be part of that forward movement, and I hope to help facilitate and expand the implementation of our OneUND Strategic Plan.

As I gather thoughts and suggestions from near and far, I’ll soon be formalizing how I plan to split my time and focus between UND and the School. Based on feedback I’ve received thus far, I’ve been developing a plan for my calendar going forward. At this point I plan to spend on average about a half-day in the president’s office in Twamley Hall, and half a day in my office in the SMHS building. By next week I’ll likely have finished formulating the details of my transition plan as Mark Kennedy moves to Colorado and I assume UND presidential responsibilities in just over a week. One of the as-yet-undecided issues is who will handle my calendar, and how I will ensure that there is good coordination between the two offices (one in Twamley and the SMHS).

In addition to the excitement about the presidential transition, there have been several other important happenings since my last column. The first occurred last Friday, when there was a day-long retreat (actually not a “retreat” but an “advance” as Provost DiLorenzo likes to emphasize!) focused on revising and further improving the medical student curriculum. The last time the faculty engaged in such a comprehensive review of the curriculum was over two decades ago when the SMHS took its first steps toward becoming a national leader in implementing patient-centered, small group learning (called patient-centered learning or PCL).

This past Wednesday we had two celebrations. The first was the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Altru Hospital building here in Grand Forks. As you may know, the former Altru Clinic building suffered a structural failure not long ago, and after considering all the logical options, Altru made the decision to build a new state-of-the-art hospital. The groundbreaking was followed by a well-attended celebration for the community at Sertoma Park in Grand Forks.

And the very same day we bid farewell to Jean Altepeter, associate director of Human Resources, who is retiring at the end of June. Jean joined the university system on August 16, 1982 (almost 37 years ago), as an administrative officer at the former Medical School Rehabilitation Hospital. In November 1989, she transferred to a grants officer position in Grants & Contracts, and in November 1996 she became a manager at the Human Nutrition Research Center. Since December 2003, Jean has overseen human resource activities at the SMHS, first as the Human Resource Manager and most recently Associate Director of Human Resources. She has been instrumental in hiring, training, advising, and mentoring many individuals throughout her career. We wish her all the best, as we do to soon-to-be retiree Joy Mack, administrative secretary for the UND SMHS Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science and the Center for Health Promotion & Prevention, who has been with the UND SMHS for almost as long as Jean (since 1986). So between the two, Jean and Joy have devoted about seven decades of service to UND and the SMHS! I know that you join me in wishing both good things in retirement.

Finally, it’s worth saying thanks once again to all our veterans—especially those who participated in the Second World War. The 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, was yesterday and it still astounds me that so many brave men and women willingly sacrificed so much on that day and throughout the war to keep the world free from tyranny. Let’s hope that no such global effort in that regard is required ever again.

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