From the Dean

Next week, I will be “On the Road Again” in my new role as interim president of UND. Along with about 30 new faculty and administrators, we will board a UND bus and travel across the northern portion of North Dakota. Each year since 1990, UND’s newcomers board the bus on Monday to see the Peace Garden State firsthand. Stops on this year’s tour dot U.S. Highway 2 westward to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The UND contingent will have stops in Grafton, Devils Lake, Minot, Velva, New Town, Watford City, Tioga, Rugby and Lakota before returning to Grand Forks on Wednesday evening. The tour is known for its diverse perspectives on North Dakota culture, from industry to nature. Walkthroughs of the Marvin Windows plant in Grafton and Leading Edge Equipment in Devils Lake start the trip on Monday, while Tuesday is a tour of the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum in New Town and a drive through the tips of the North Dakota Badlands. It promises to be an interesting trip, and I’m looking forward to meeting the new faculty and staff members who will be on the journey with me. If you’re on Twitter, I encourage you to follow our journey at @UofNorthDakota.

After last week’s MD Class of 2023 White Coat Ceremony, we learned of an impressive statistic that I wanted to share: A dozen of the 77 students in the freshman class were participants of one of our summer undergraduate research programs over the past five years. Most took part in the 10-week Research Experiences for Undergraduates at North Dakota Universities (REFUNDU), a program funded by the North Dakota IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence that takes place in the labs at the School. The students–from towns such as Williston, Grafton, Mandan and Fargo—spent the summer researching topics including environmental cancer, Lyme disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. They are already well-positioned to become excellent physicians!

Alumni and friends of the University of North Dakota gave a record-setting $67.7 million to UND through the UND Alumni Association & Foundation during the fiscal year that just ended June 30, and donors to the UND SMHS were important contributors to the record year. The FY19 record is nearly twice the amount committed the previous year, while the old record was $49.9 million set in 2011. The philanthropic generosity of our alumni and friends is humbling, and we are truly thankful for such amazing support. It is a reflection of the passion and commitment our alumni and friends have for UND. This financial support is invaluable as we work to provide outstanding opportunities for the next generations of students. It’s also instrumental in elevating the University of North Dakota as a premier institution that focuses on education and research excellence in the setting of community engagement.

Finally, congratulations to Professor and Chair of the Department of Family & Community Medicine David Schmitz, MD, for his selection as a new member of the National Advisory Council of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for a three-year term (as recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians and National Rural Health Association). The NHSC awards scholarships and loan repayment to primary care providers in eligible disciplines and thus helps build healthy communities by supporting qualified health care providers dedicated to working in areas of the United States with limited access to care. The NHSC has been strengthening and growing the country’s primary care workforce since 1972. Congratulations, David!

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