From the Dean: Commencement and remembering Daryl Sieg

Tomorrow will be commencement day for the medical student Class of 2021. Our other graduating health sciences and graduate students will be part of the general UND commencement ceremony the following weekend. Both events will be different from usual due to the pandemic. For medical students, it will be a hybrid event with only the students present in person and their families and friends joining by video link. General UND Commencement will feature “in-person” but pre-recorded appearances by the students.

Medical student commencement tomorrow also will be different in that the graduating students invited two guest speakers, one a faculty member and one from outside of UND. Once again, the students have invited Dr. Walter Kemp to be their Faculty Guest Lecturer. Dr. Kemp is a clinical associate professor of pathology at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences. He has received several awards of recognition from our students, including the Outstanding Teacher Award, the Golden Apple Award, and the Portrait Award. Although Dr. Kemp recently relocated back to his home state of Montana, he wanted to be here in person to share in the celebration and will join the class in person tomorrow.

The keynote speaker will be TikTok and Twitter sensation Dr. Will Flanary. He is a practicing ophthalmologist, writer, and comedian who moonlights in his free time as “Dr. Glaucomflecken.” Dr. Flanary has provided us with pre-recorded comments. We’re looking forward to seeing his presentation.

During tomorrow’s ceremony, we will also recognize several special contributors to our medical student program with two awards.  The first is the Dean’s Recognition Award for Outstanding Volunteer Faculty. This year’s recipients are:

  • Hasrat Khan, Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
  • Peter C. Kurniali, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
  • Wayne Martinsen, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
  • Casey Ryan, Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine

The graduating medical student class also selected the following outstanding physicians-teachers at each campus:

  • James Miles, Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology, Northeast (Grand Forks) Campus
  • James Schmidt, Clinical Instructor of Family and Community Medicine, Northwest (Minot) Campus
  • Dane Breker, Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology, Southeast (Fargo) Campus

The Southwest (Bismarck) Campus in Bismarck had a tie:

  • Peter White, Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine
  • Issa Al Rabadi, Clinical Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine

As I mentioned previously, the 41st Annual Frank Low Research Day was held virtually last week. The first ever virtual event was very successful with excellent “attendance.” The winners were just announced for the poster and presentation winners in each category. The list of winners may be found here.

I, along with the rest of UND administration, held two Town Hall meetings this week that focused on current and future plans in regard to the pandemic. The first event was for faculty and staff and the second one was for students and their parents. I didn’t get a lot of questions, but the attendance – especially for the session with faculty and staff – was quite strong. People seemed to appreciate the exchange, and the information provided.

Finally, I’ll close on a somber note. We report with sadness the passing of one of our own. It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Daryl Sieg, assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, who passed away on May 5, 2021. Daryl will be remembered for his many contributions to the Department, School, and University. We extend our deepest sympathies to his colleagues, friends, and family. We also want to take a moment to remember Daryl for everything he did over the past several years for PA education in North Dakota and region. He will be missed.

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