From the Dean: Homecoming and an Inauguration!

This has been a full and exciting week! It started on Monday with President Andy Armacost’s Inauguration Ceremony as the 13th UND president. The event was quite poignant and moving. Andy’s closing remarks were sensitive, thoughtful, inspiring and gracious. But even Andy and his wonderful remarks were upstaged by the loving, insightful and precious comments offered by his two daughters. The only unfortunate part of the event was that it was virtual; the only people in the audience of the Chester Fritz Auditorium were members of Andy’s family. But it really was a very nice ceremony overall for those who watched. If you’d like to see the video recording from the event (something I recommend you do), it is available here.

The Presidential Inauguration ushered in UND’s virtual Homecoming 2020, ordinarily a week full of activities for our extended UND family, including alumni returning to the campus. But due to the pandemic, all activities were online. The School sponsored a variety of virtual receptions, starting on Tuesday with the B.S.P.T. Class of 1980. On Wednesday, there were two Virtual Happy Hour celebrations, one each for the B.S.O.T. classes of 1970 and 1980. Last night, there were three events, one for graduates from the B.S.Med. Class of 1970, one for the M.D. Class of 2000 and the other for the B.S.O.T. Class of 2000. Tonight, we’ll have our Homecoming Milestone Program, celebrating with alumni from the classes of 1940 – 2010. And this morning, we’ll have our annual Continuing Education Symposium on COVID-19 Virtual Care. After giving some opening remarks, I hope to be able to stay online and learn more about how virtual care is working during the pandemic; I’ve long been a believer in telehealth and other aspects of virtual care.

If Homecoming 2020 wasn’t enough to fill up my plate this week, I also did a lot of teaching. As it happened, the way the second-year medical student teaching calendar worked out this year had me giving over 10 hours of lectures, labs and simulation sessions (all virtual) during the week, with some teaching duties each day from Monday through today. But it has been great fun – the students are motivated and inquisitive, and they ask great questions! And the teaching is a family affair – Susan helped out in the lab session yesterday when she talked about cardiac imaging studies and their clinical utility.

The last major activity for Homecoming 2020 was the meeting of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation (UNDAAF). Usually the meeting is held in conjunction with the Sioux Awards Banquet and good ol’ UND hockey, but not this year. But the Foundation meetings were productive nonetheless. The opening session featured North Dakota Congressman Kelly Armstrong, a proud UND graduate. The philanthropic support we receive through the UNDAAF is important to the School, especially funds destined for scholarships for our students and support for our faculty members. It was very gratifying (as always) to see the commitment and generosity of the members of the UNDAAF Board, all of whom serve voluntarily and without compensation – other than the gratification of knowing that what they do helps UND, our faculty and especially our students.

Finally, I’d again like to wish Jessica Sobolik all the best in the future. As our director of the Office of Alumni & Community Relations for just over a decade, she has done a marvelous job leading the Office and representing the School. I know that you will join me in wishing her all the best as she starts the next phase in her professional life as Executive Director of the Unity Medical Center Foundation in Grafton, N.D.

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