From the Dean: UND’s virtual Homecoming starts next week

This past Tuesday, the leadership team at the UND SMHS gave new UND President Armacost a 2.5 hour introduction to the wide variety of activities at the School. Over a dozen UND SMHS leaders gave presentations summarizing the programs and operations in each of their areas of responsibility. I gave an introductory overview and a summary at the end of the briefing outlining our strategic plan and where we hope to go. And President Armacost demonstrated very well what see our students do every day: active learning! Afterward, President Armacost indicated to me how much he appreciated and learned from the effort and asked me to thank all of the participants (which I have done!). Thank you, President Armacost, for your time and attention to the School’s purpose!

Next week is Homecoming 2020, and our first-ever virtual Homecoming Week. In fact, we will be continuing the ever-popular Homecoming Continuing Education Symposium that we have been sponsoring each Friday of Homecoming week for a number of years. This year’s virtual symposium will be held from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, and will focus on Virtual Care During COVID-19. By the end of the symposium, participants should be better able to meet the specific care needs of their patients (i.e., diabetes, COVID-19, physical therapy, occupational therapy) using telehealth tools and strategies. And later that same evening from 7 – 8:30 p.m., we will have a virtual Homecoming Milestone program during which we will celebrate 50 years of our Physician Assistant Studies Program (formerly MedEx and the Family Nurse Practitioner Program), as well as milestone alumni of the classes of 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010! Wow! If you wish to participate, please visit our Homecoming website.

And finally, as you may have heard, our Office of Alumni & Community Relations is losing Director Jessica Sobolik on Oct. 9. She will be moving on to the Unity Medical Center Foundation in Grafton, N.D., where she will serve as executive director. Having begun at UND at the Alumni Association & Foundation, Jessica came to the UND SMHS a little more than a decade ago and has been an invaluable member of our team.

She was instrumental in our School’s lead-up to and execution of the new building project – from fundraising to groundbreaking to grand opening. Also in her time here, our Homecoming celebration grew from modest little gatherings without much programming to multi-event productions that in non-COVID-19 years included building tours, the Continuing Education Symposium, recognition banquet and parade float. Plus, as a special benefit especially to me, she’s an excellent copywriter and editor!

I’m certainly going to miss Jessica, but I understand the lure of an exciting new position that is located closer to her home in Minto, N.D. Unity has nearly completed a hospital expansion, so Jessica will still be giving building tours, hosting events and compiling naming opportunities for the new spaces. I know that you’ll join me in wishing her all the best! We plan to have a Virtual Farewell Reception to say goodbye and best wishes next week on Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 2 until 3:30 p.m. Please join us via Zoom (Meeting ID: 967 2029 2318; Passcode: 279971).

I’m pleased to announce that Brian James Schill, assistant director in the Office of Alumni & Community Relations and Jessica’s colleague, has agreed to assume the role of interim director going forward.

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