From the Dean

Although the next session of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly (the biannual meeting of the Legislature) is fewer than 11 months away (with a scheduled start date of Jan. 5, 2021), UND and the UND SMHS are already in the preparatory stages of budget planning for the next biennium. As you probably know, North Dakota operates on a biennial budget cycle, with the Legislature meeting every two years in the odd-numbered years. And although the North Dakota University System (NDUS) is comprised of 11 institutions of higher learning, there are 12 line items in the NDUS budget, with a separate appropriation for the SMHS. So we at the School need to submit our proposed budget ahead of time to UND as a whole and subsequently to the NDUS. We also get input and suggestions from the School’s legislatively mandated Advisory Council. The budget process has become somewhat more complicated in the recent past for two reasons: the adoption by the Legislature of a productivity-based formula for dispersing appropriated funds based on the number of student credit hours attributed to each institution, and the utilization of a funding model promulgated by UND called the Model of Incentive-based Resource Allocation (MIRA). I’ve discussed the MIRA model in prior columns, but suffice it to say that the model distributes tuition and state allocations based on productivity metrics, and also assigns costs for central services (such as utility and maintenance expenses to each unit such as the School). Laura Block, our chief financial officer and associate dean for Administration and Finance, has been working with Jed Shivers, vice president for Finance and Operations, and his staff as we prepare for our budget submission later this year.

One important component of that budget submission will be a resubmission by UND, working in conjunction with NDSU, of a request that previously was submitted to the last Legislative Assembly for additional funding to expand UND’s and NDSU’s research enterprise. Funding will be requested from North Dakota’s Legacy Fund, although it could come from other sources as well. And the School plays an important role in that request in view of our already substantial (and growing) research enterprise. A modified version of the previously submitted proposal actually passed in the North Dakota Senate, although it failed in the House. We’ve made some important edits to the proposal, and remain hopeful that we will achieve success this time around.

I’ll keep you informed as things progress further on the budget preparation front.

In other news, more than 40 UND physical therapy alumni and partners got together at a reception during the APTA Combined Sections Meeting in Denver on Feb. 13. We enjoy hosting these events so our faculty can keep in touch with our graduates who are now spread across the country. No matter where they end up, they are all representing UND well!

Finally, UND’s annual Founders Day banquet will be held in Grand Forks on Thursday, Feb. 27. This event marks the anniversary of the signing of the Dakota Territory legislation, establishing the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. As always, a number of SMHS faculty and staff (plus entire departments!) are being recognized at this year’s banquet. David Rzucidlo, office manager and advisor in Occupational Therapy, will be given a VPAA Award for Outstanding Professional Academic Advising. Likewise, our Department of Occupational Therapy will be given the UND Award for Departmental Excellence in Service and the Department of Pathology will be given the UND Award for Departmental Excellence in Teaching.

This in addition to our many 25-year employees and recent retirees being honored at the banquet. Such amazing work by so many amazing employees who help make your School of Medicine & Health Sciences the great institution that it is today.

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