From the Dean

Pictured: LaVonne Fox, PhD, OTR/L

This past Wednesday, I was pleased to attend an event at the UND Alumni Association & Foundation’s Gorecki Alumni Center in celebration of the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event—called the Dream in Action—was cosponsored by UND and the City of Grand Forks. Coordinated by UND’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the annual celebration honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and those in our community who are making a commitment to social change by presenting several Dream in Action Awards. This year, two of the four awards went to faculty in our Department of Occupational Therapy (OT). The first award went to Dr. LaVonne Fox, a former faculty member in occupational therapy, in recognition of her advocacy for multicultural diversity on campus. One example of her commitment is the Multicultural Competency course she created for the OT program, which has helped over 1,000 OT students develop as citizens and professionals.

The second award went to the Department of Occupational Therapy as a team for its work in assisting new Americans in Grand Forks County. Partnering with Global Friends Coalition, OT faculty and students help former refugees to learn English, as well as provide them friendship and mentoring in the months immediately following their arrival to the United States.

Grand Forks Mayor Dr. Mike Brown and I had the pleasure and honor of helping with the awards presentation. We were assisted in the presentations by Pete Haga, community/government relations officer for Grand Forks, and Stacey Borboa-Peterson and Jeff Gibson of UND’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion. It was a very nice event, emceed masterfully by members of UND’s Black Student Association, and served to highlight the importance of tolerance, inclusiveness, equity, and diversity. So double congratulations to the OT Department—first to Dr. Fox, and second to the entire department. Well done!

The SMHS held its annual Faculty Assembly yesterday afternoon, and I had the honor of presenting the State of the School address. If you weren’t able to attend or see the streamed video, a copy of my slides is available here. The bottom line from my talk is that the state of the School is quite good, thanks to the fantastic efforts of our faculty, staff, and students. Based on multiple objective parameters, the School is doing precisely what is expected—educating the next generation of health care providers, engaging in scholarship and discovery that helps the people of the state, and providing service to North Dakotans that improves the quality of their lives. Perhaps the most impressive statistic I presented was the percentage of North Dakotans who gained acceptance to a U.S. medical school in a given year: in 2007, only two out of three (67 percent) such students matriculated at the UND SMHS. By 2019, that percentage had increased to 91 percent; that is, more than nine out of 10 graduates who hail from North Dakota started their medical journey as freshmen in the medical school program at UND. And as you probably know, going to medical school in-state increases the chances that a given graduate will stay in-state to practice medicine, especially if the graduate also matches with an in-state residency (post-MD) program.

Finally, I hope that you mark your calendar and plan to attend the annual Medical School Awards Gala that will be held on Sat., Feb. 8, 2020, at Canad Inn. Tickets are $30 per person and will be sold on the School’s first floor in the East Atrium on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursday, Jan. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. All tickets must be purchased before 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24. If the times above do not work, you may also utilize Venmo (@Cole-Sogge) to purchase tickets. You will be asked to provide your name and meal choice, as well as your guest’s name and meal choice.

Susan and I hope to see you there!

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