President Kennedy leads bus tour


President Mark Kennedy and First Lady Debbie Kennedy host the 26th Annual New Faculty and Administrator Bus Tour of North Dakota Monday through Wednesday, Aug. 15-17.

This will be the first bus tour for the Kennedys. President Kennedy started his new duties at UND on July 1, succeeding Interim UND President Ed Schafer and retired UND President Robert Kelley.

The tour left  campus on the morning of Monday, Aug. 15.

Of the multiple purposes for hosting the bus tour, familiarizing new faculty and administrators with the state while connecting them with alumni, state and community leaders is the primary focus. The tour also gives the more than 30 new UND faculty members and administrators a chance to develop professional relationships.

“This bus tour has been a great opportunity for us to introduce our new faculty and administrators to the their new state. They’ll learn about where their students come from. They learn about the three pillars of the economy ― agriculture, energy and tourism ― as well as about what makes North Dakota unique from a historical, cultural, societal, and political perspective,” said Peter Johnson, interim vice president for University & Public Affairs. “It has been fun over the years to see our new employees react to North Dakota. They are impressed with the warmth of the people, the intense loyalty of our alumni, and what, for many, is the surprising beauty of the state. August, just before the academic year starts, is an amazing time to travel across North Dakota. It is also fun to hear the faculty members talk about how they will incorporate what they learn into their courses.”

The tour alternates between a northern route and a southern route each year. This year the tour will follow a southern route through the state, stopping at places such as Mayville, Carrington, Washburn, Medora and nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Bismarck-Mandan and Fargo-Moorhead.

Monday, August 15:

  • Bus leaves Chester Fritz Auditorium parking lot about 7:30 a.m.
  • Hear an expert on the bus, John Botsford, talk about agriculture in the Red River Valley.
  • Stop at the beautiful Rainbow Gardens in Mayville. With the help of many community volunteers, the garden now has seven plots, each demonstrating a different theme: The English Garden, The White Garden, The Cottage Garden, The Rock Garden, The Children’s Garden, The Herb Garden, and The Labyrinth. A sculpture walk now features 15 commissioned pieces. We’ll have coffee with local leaders, legislators, and UND alumni.
  • Travel to Carrington to learn about the Dakota Growers pasta plant and the economic development it provides to the state and the community. We’ll have lunch with UND alumni and community leaders.
  • Head west to “coal country” for a tour of the Great River Energy Coal Creek Station, the state’s largest power plant, and learn about energy development in western North Dakota.
  • Conclude the day in Bismarck with a social and dinner with state and local leaders, UND alumni, and friends at the newly renovated North Dakota Heritage Center. The Center’s numerous exhibits offer a complete overview of the state’s history.

Tuesday, August 16 :

  • Begin the day with an expert on the bus, State Senator Richard Wardner, discussing the culture and opportunities in western North Dakota.
  • Take time to explore Medora, North Dakota’s most famous tourist destination, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We’ll have lunch at the beautiful Bully Pulpit golf course.
  • Traveling back to Bismarck-Mandan, we take a trolley car to Fort Lincoln State Park. Rich in both military and early Native American history, Fort Abraham Lincoln was once an important infantry and cavalry post. It was from this fort that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry rode out on their ill-fated expedition in 1876. Popular with visitors is On-A-Slant Indian Village. Reconstructed earth lodges depict the lifestyle of the Mandan Indians, who occupied this site from about 1575 to 1781. Tours of the park will also include a conversation with the president of United Tribes Technical Colleges.
  • The day concludes with a picnic at Fort Lincoln State Park Commissary with UND Presidential Scholar students and their families.

Wednesday, August 17

  • Tour the State Capitol building in Bismarck.
  • At the invitation of State Board of Higher Education member Greg Stemen, we travel to Oakes. We’ll have lunch with local leaders and alumni, and tour the community before our departure.
  • Our afternoon stop gets us to The Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minn., showcasing our region’s Scandinavian heritage with its Viking ship, Stave Church, and special exhibits.
  • Our community dinner continues with the Scandinavian theme at the Kringen Lodge Sons of Norway in Fargo. Managed by a UND alum, we’ll be treated to a delicious meal and desserts from Norway. Joining us for dinner will be UND alumni, local leaders, and friends of UND.
  • Arrive in Grand Forks by 9 p.m.