Presidential Podcast: Episode #6

UND Interim President Wynne fields a question during a recent radio interview on 1100 AM The Flag’s morning show.

‘Tis the season to be thankful. And, University of North Dakota Interim President Joshua Wynne embraces the spirit by expressing gratitude to UND students, staff and faculty as well as alumni and donors who support the mission of the University. While unfeasible to thank thousands of UND donors in less than 10 minutes, President Wynne takes that time to acknowledge a few. These include Pete and Eunice Kuhn, who established the UND Art Collections Endowment for Preservation and Education; Werner and Colleen Nistler, lead donors for the new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration building; Hal and Kathleen Gershman who provided funds for a new Gershman Engagement Center for graduate students; Kris McGarry, who leads The Engelstad Family Foundation that is a long-time UND donor; as well as Mike and Ginny Blake, whose committed service to UND and the community inspired the Mike and Ginny Blake Music Endowment.

On that note of gratefulness, President Wynne and his wife Susan wish everyone a “wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.”

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

Hello, I’m UND President Joshua Wynne. Welcome to Episode Number 6 of the UND Presidential Podcast.

In just a few days, many of us will gather with friends and family for Thanksgiving to show our appreciation for the wonderful people in our lives and for those who help us every day.

At UND, there is no shortage of individuals to whom we owe our thanks for all they have done to help move the University forward as we strive for excellence.

We are thankful for our wonderful students who attend our classrooms in search of knowledge, learning experiences and the critical thinking skills that will make them more well-rounded agents of change in our world. Collectively, our students make us better with their diverse of backgrounds, personal experiences and viewpoints.

We are thankful for our University staff members who  – often unsung and behind the scenes –  provide the commitment and energy that power the support services that propel UND forward.

We are thankful for our friends in the community, the state and around the region who help make Grand Forks one of the best college towns in the nation. Those relationships are strong and getting stronger!

We are thankful for our great faculty who deliver the knowledge, mentoring and educational interactions our students seek. I’ve said it before on previous episodes – but I think it bears repeating – the importance of our faculty when it comes to the success and positive experiences of our students cannot be overstated. Our alumni often cite particular bonds with specific faculty members as key reasons they stayed in school and were able to complete their degrees.

That brings me to another group that deserves thanks – our alumni and other friends of UND, whose humble generosity stems from their fondness for and positive association with the University.

DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of our Alumni Association & Foundation, often calls these people “Heroes.” And I could not think of a more apt description.

With apologies in advance for the inability to list all of our heroes who make UND such a special place, I would like to call out and extend a hearty “thank you” to a few who’ve recently made particularly impactful gifts to the University.

One of those gifts was revealed earlier this month during a very special event at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Grand Forks. On this evening, we celebrated the opening exhibition of a new art gallery.

That’s also when we publicly announced the financial support of UND heroes, Pete and Eunice Kuhn, who established the “UND Art Collections Endowment for Preservation and Education.” The endowment is intended to support art projects across campus.

Thanks to heroes like Pete and Eunice, the School of Medicine & Health Sciences will now feature two new temporary art exhibitions every year.

The first exhibition, consisting of 13 works selected from UND’s incredible collection of 30,000 artworks, is titled “School of Paris: Selected Works on Paper, Published in Paris circa 1934-39.” It features works are by such noted early 20th century artists as Kandinsky, Miró, Matisse, Chagall, and Ernst. The new gallery also complements more than 100 other pieces of art on permanent display throughout the School of Medicine & Health Sciences building.

Why am I so pleased with the artwork in the building? Well, in addition to making the building even more beautiful and pleasing to the eye, the works, embedded as they are in a building dedicated to the study of health and treatment of disease, emphasize the critical juncture between art and science.

The new art gallery has become a reality thanks to the generosity of Pete and Eunice and the outstanding efforts of Sarah Heitkamp, manager and curator for UND Art Collections and instructor in the Department of Art & Design, and her colleagues, along with the strong support of Provost Tom DiLorenzo.

This first exhibition will be on display until April 17, at which point, UND will begin transitioning in new exhibitions after they premiere at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks.

I highly encourage anyone, who would like to view great art firsthand to stop by the second floor of the School of Medicine & Health Sciences building to experience UND’s newest art gallery.

“Thank you, again,” Pete and Eunice!

Joining our parade of impactful donors who deserve our gratitude are Werner and Colleen Nistler, whose name now graces our College of Business & Public Administration. As you may recall, the Nistlers have stepped forward with a spectacular gift to be the lead donors for a new College of Business & Public Administration building on campus. We were excited to get the opportunity to thank Werner and Colleen in person when they visited campus in October for Homecoming. Ever since meeting them, I have been struck by the Nistlers’ humility and their desire to simply do what’s best for our students.

The same could also be said for the other UND heroes on our list. Heroes like Hal and Kathleen Gershman, longtime friends of the University, who’ve made it possible for us to create the “Gershman Engagement Center,” a new, dedicated home for our graduate students on campus. The center will be located in the historic first home to UND presidents, now under renovation, along University Avenue. Because of the Gershmans’ gift, UND grad students will have a place of their own to study, engage, network and relax with their academic peers.

We’re thankful for friends and heroes like Kris McGarry, daughter of UND alumnus Ralph Engelstad and Betty Engelstad.

We’re also thankful for the love and respect that exist for Mike and Ginny Blake. Mike is a former longtime professor of music at UND, and his wife, Ginny, served thousands of students and their families as a counselor with the Grand Forks School District. In honor of Mike and Ginny’s years of service to the community, the UND College of Arts & Sciences created the “Mike and Ginny Blake Music Endowment” to support UND music students and faculty for years to come.

We take this time to thank all of these heroes and the hundreds of other heroes not named here for all they do and have done for UND.

Before signing off for today, I would like to remind everyone that this and all past podcast recordings can be easily found on the UND President’s page at

Also, please feel free to submit questions that you would like me to address in future podcasts. You can send your questions and suggestions to me at Please put “Presidential Podcast” in the subject line. You will find a handy e-mail link for this on the UND President’s page.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With that – that’s it for today’s episode. Thanks so much for joining me. I look forward to bringing you more installments next month.

For now, my wife SUsan and I would like to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and …

As always – Go UND!