Presidential Podcast: Episode #1

In an effort to continually find fresh, new ways to bring the University of North Dakota campus community, as well as our valued external stakeholders, updates about the University and our service to the State and beyond, UND Interim President Joshua Wynne announces that we are launching a “UND Presidential Podcast.”

With this message, you should see – or better yet hear — the inaugural installment of this new venture, which is intended as a biweekly part of your University’s communication plans. Each recording runs about 10 minutes.

This first episode largely centers on our recent New Faculty and Administrators Bus Tour of North Dakota, with mentions of many of the UND alumni, legislators, business leaders and North Dakota citizens, who we were able to visit right in their own backyards and main streets.

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Prefer to read it instead? Here is the full transcript:

Hello, I’m Interim University of North Dakota President Joshua Wynne. You may also know me as the Vice President for Health Affairs at UND and the proud Dean of YOUR School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

I want to welcome you to the inaugural edition of what we hope will be a biweekly update to the campus community — and beyond — about important happenings and exciting developments at UND!

Sometimes those exciting developments take place off campus … as was the case in August, when I had the pleasure of hosting the annual UND Bus Tour of North Dakota. This year, about 30 of us, many new UND faculty and administrators, traveled across the northern portion of North Dakota.

Each year since 1990, UND’s newcomers have boarded a UND bus to see the Peace Garden State firsthand. Stops on this year’s three-day tour dotted U.S. Highway 2 westward to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and back again. We had stops in Grafton, Devils Lake, Minot, Velva, New Town, Watford City, Tioga, Rugby and Lakota.

We were treated to walkthroughs of the Marvin Windows plant in Grafton and Leading Edge Equipment in Devils Lake, along with tours of the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum in New Town, a drive through the North Dakota Badlands and so much more.

We met lots of alumni along the way, all of whom reinforced how important their alma mater is to them and to the State of North Dakota. The alums included Jim Vasichek, owner of Leading Edge Equipment, Joe Gillis of the Three Affiliated Tribes and Jessie Veeder of McKenzie Country/Watford City Tourism.

We also were thrilled to be greeted by many state legislators and other dignitaries in their home districts. They included State Sen. Dale Patten in Watford City, Reps. Jay Fisher and Matt Ruby and Sen. Karen Krebsbach in Minot and Rep. Jon Nelson in Rugby.

Among other highlights was a visit and supper at Black Butte Acres, on the Effertz Farm in Velva. The farm is a family business run by Jerry and Norma Effertz with assistance from their daughters, Maria and Kayla, who both are UND alums. They were wonderful hosts, and all radiated their passion for the beauty and wonder of living in rural North Dakota. Especially for new faculty and staff who are not from North Dakota, the visit provided a unique and instructive perspective on rural life.

Another point of interest for me and others was a stop at McKenzie County Healthcare Systems in Watford City, hosted by CEO Dan Kelly. Dan is one of the real leaders in rural health care delivery, and he educated our busload of new North Dakotans on the current status of health care in his region. As you undoubtedly know, Watford City has experienced as dramatic a transformation as perhaps any locale in North Dakota as a result of the oil boom. According to another of our tour guides, Daniel Stenberg of McKenzie County Economic Development, the town’s population has increased something like four-fold or more, and it sports a variety of new facilities to support the burgeoning community.

As for natural beauty, a trip to the nearby North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, with our hostess Jessie Veeder, provided everyone with an awareness and appreciation for the ruggedness and solitude of this part of North Dakota’s landscape.

On the morning of the bus tour’s third and final day, we were treated to breakfast with high-performing, incoming UND students from the Minot area along with their parents. Those students are starting their UND careers this semester, and I spoke with several of the students and their families. I was impressed with their eagerness to get started on their chosen career paths. Their passion for North Dakota and UND was quite evident. I also had a chance to meet Tara Mulhauser, a UND student advisor in western North Dakota. Tara helps advise interested high school students with information about opportunities at UND. Thank you, Tara, for all you and your fellow advisors do for UND and our future students!

Before returning to Grand Forks, the bus tour paid a visit to Neset Consulting Services and its president, Kathy Neset, who also is a member of the State Board of Higher Education. We visited Kathy’s homegrown business in Tioga, and her business supports other companies in the Bakken region as they drill deep into the state’s resource-rich subsurface to extract oil and natural gas. Kathy treated us to lunch and an enlightening “Bakken 101” presentation on what has made North Dakota the second-largest oil producing state in the nation, in short time. 

Then it was off to Rugby, the geographical center of North America, for old-style ice cream treats and other refreshments, before taking part in a delightful and delicious community supper in Lakota’s recently-restored historic public library.

It was a great trip and served to highlight the vital role UND has across the state. It was truly time well-spent!

And we got back to Grand Forks just in time to see a revamped and refurbished University Avenue open up to the public after months of construction.  It’s perfect timing as we welcome our students for the start of the fall semester, including what we now know to be the best-prepared freshman class in UND history.

Tune in for more on that next time.

Well, that’s it for today. Thanks so much for joining me. I hope you enjoyed hearing this update as much as I did bringing it to you. And I look forward to bringing much more information to you through the sound of my voice in the weeks and months ahead.

Go UND!