From the Dean

There were two big events this week, both of which have relevance for our School. The first was that North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum chose to give the annual State of the State address on the UND campus. This was only the second time that a North Dakota governor has given this address on a university campus. As Interim President, I had the pleasure and honor of introducing Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, who in turn introduced the governor. The governor’s presentation emphasized North Dakota’s bright future. He also touched on several aspects of higher education, and emphasized the rapid changes underway in the learning enterprise. As I’ve mentioned before in previous For Your Health columns, the expectations of college students, whether undergraduate or graduate, have changed (and continue to change) over time. The when, where, how, and who of higher education is evolving, and we as an organization need to continue to plan for, and adapt to, those changes. The presentation by the governor was another reminder of the importance that we at the School (and UND as a whole) are laser-focused on preparing for the future, because the future is already here!

The governor gave a specific shout-out to our Indians Into Medicine and Master of Public Health program director Dr. Don Warne, who this week unveiled the world’s first-ever doctoral degree in Indigenous health, which will be housed right here in the SMHS. This new degree, which has been approved by the State Board of Higher Education (SBHE), is quite an accomplishment by Dr. Warne and the team he has built here, and we’re excited to bring this program to fruition.

The other big event was the annual strategic planning meeting of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation (UNDAAF) board. These events are held annually, and are a great way for UND leadership to meet with the UNDAAF stakeholders to ensure optimal coordination of the two organizations. It was a special treat this year when the board invited SBHE Chair Nick Hacker and North Dakota Legislature Interim Higher Education Committee Chair Rep. Mark Sanford to give presentations on behalf of their groups. The presentations were top-notch, and led to great many discussions. All in all, the various discussions of the two-day meeting were quite positive, and supported the governor’s view of the bright future for the state of North Dakota!

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