From the Dean

On a sad note, the long-time building service technician for the School, Art Rice, recently passed away after spending 38 years supporting faculty, staff, and students at UND. Art acquired a severe hearing problem at a young age, but that never stopped him. We will miss him, and I’m sure that you’ll join me in extending condolences to his family.

On a happier note, our annual holiday parties are off to a great start! Susan and I traveled to Bismarck on Tuesday for the first one, and we had a great turnout. Then yesterday the School held its traditional Holiday Luncheon for folks on the Northeast (Grand Forks) campus, and we served more than 600 lunches! It was good to see the many faculty, staff, and students from the health sciences and from across campus coming together for the festive occasion. And last night we celebrated with the folks on the Southeast (Fargo) campus. Next week we look forward to the campus celebrations for the Grand Forks community (Tuesday) and the Northwest (Minot) campus on Thursday. One of the more important aspects of these parties is to thank the many clinical (voluntary) faculty who help train our medical and health sciences students. So to all of you: thank you! And happy holidays to you and your families.

As you undoubtedly heard, Andrew Armacost has been selected as the 13th president of UND and will be starting his presidency sometime later this academic year. My wife Dr. Susan Farkas and I look forward to welcoming Andy and his wife Kathy to Grand Forks. He and I have been in touch with each other over the past several days as we plan for the transition and the future—and we both agree that the future of UND looks bright! I know that you will join me in warmly welcoming the new first family to Grand Forks and North Dakota.

UND just announced that the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) has been re-instituted this year. The program is offered as an incentive to those who may be considering retirement. As was noted in the announcement, approval of a request for a VSIP will be based on the institution’s strategic priorities and planning for the future. Eligible staff and tenured faculty will be receiving an email this coming Monday Dec. 9 with detailed information about the program. I consider this program to be a good business practice, as it eliminates uncertainty as to the timing of retirement of eligible staff and faculty, and works to the benefit of both UND and the employee.

Finally, if you’d like a sneak preview of the next art exhibit that will be on display at the SMHS later this spring, head downtown to the Empire Arts Center for the latest display of the UND Art Collections at the Empire. There you can preview the just-opened exhibition of George Starcher: Untitled. George Starcher was UND president from 1954 through 1971 (when Thomas Clifford took over the presidency). Starcher, a mathematician by training, exemplified the intersection of science and art, as demonstrated by the nonrepresentational artworks on display, a small sampling of the nearly 200 works of art recently discovered in UND’s archives. The exhibition will be at the Empire until April 3, 2020, when it will transition to the School. At the opening of the exhibition this past Wednesday, four honors students who helped curate the exhibit under the guidance of Sarah Heitkamp, UND Art Collections manager and curator, gave brief but insightful presentations on the artwork and its significance. Amazingly, none of the students are art majors but rather are majoring in other disciplines. But their love of, and appreciation for, art was obvious. Well done, and congratulations!

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