From the Dean

With UND 2019 Winter Commencement activities concluding this afternoon, the first semester of the 2020 academic year is winding down. Yesterday we held commencement for students receiving professional and graduate degrees, and later this afternoon we will have two ceremonies to send off those receiving undergraduate degrees, including students from the School of Medicine & Health Sciences. As interim president of UND, my addresses to the soon-to-be-graduates emphasized two main points: the value of college and graduate education, and the reality that a degree is not an end to one’s education, but rather a beginning. Especially for those going into a health profession, but also for most other fields, it is and will continue to be essential to engage in lifelong learning. Physicians, for example, need to complete a requisite number of Continuing Medical Education credits to qualify for a renewed medical license that allows us to practice medicine in a given state. There are similar requirements in many other fields, but even in those that do not have such formal requirements, many graduates will face a changing employment scene during their lifetimes and will need to adapt to changes in expectations about their job performance. As I mentioned during the ceremonies, the one likely constant in the job market of tomorrow will be change. But I am confident that our graduates are well-prepared to cope with those changes by building on the strong educational foundation they received here at UND.

On another celebratory note, Susan and I were pleased to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the National Resource Center on Native American Aging (NRCNAA) last Wednesday night. The NRCNAA has provided support to native elders living in various tribal communities over the past two and half decades. On hand to join in the festivities was Cynthia LaCounte, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and director of the Office of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Programs with the Administration for Community Living (ACL). ACL is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, headquartered in Washington, D.C. The keynote speaker for the event was our own Dr. Don Warne, associate dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, who spoke eloquently about the impact of past physical and emotional trauma on native people. During the event, seven individuals who have made notable contributions in the support of native elders were recognized, including Director LaCounte, but also former UND folks Dr. Leigh Jeanotte, the late Dr. Alan Allery, Dr. Leander “Russ” McDonald, Dr. Paula Morin-Carter, Dr. Twyla Baker, and Dr. Richard Ludke. Congratulations to all, and thank you for all that you have done!

Finally, Susan and I would like to thank you for your interest in and support of the UND SMHS. We wish you a very happy holiday season and a wonderful, peaceful, and productive new year. I’ll be taking a break from writing next week, but will return again with a For Your Health column on Jan. 3, 2020.

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