UND student leaders honor Interim President Wynne with Gordon Henry Award

Last month, UND Interim President Joshua Wynne popped up in faculty Zoom meetings to present two surprised professors with Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor awards.

This month, it was Wynne’s turn to click on Zoom and be surprised.

At the UND Student Senate meeting on May 6, Wynne — who’d been invited to the meeting, ostensibly to thank the student senators for their service — learned instead that the meeting’s highlight would be his being presented with the Gordon Henry Award.

The Gordon Henry Award is given each year by UND Student Government leaders. It’s awarded to a member of the faculty, staff, administration or community who continuously has gone above and beyond in his or her service to the student body and UND.

“It goes to someone who has been unselfish with his or her time and who is always willing to do anything to help students achieve their goals,” said Cassie Gerhardt, associate dean of students, after the presentation.

Servant leader

Those requirements made President Wynne the clear choice, said Matt Ternus, UND student body president and immediate past vice president.

“I worked with President Wynne throughout this entire year, and it was evident from the start that he was a servant leader,” Ternus said.

“As soon as he stepped into the office, he addressed concerns for the student body such as Internet connectivity on campus. He’s just been awesome to work with.

“And, you know, there has been no better time than this spring for someone who practices medicine to be president. President Wynne’s leadership throughout COVID-19 and Distance Learning has been incredible. The insight that he provides — every decision that he’s made, he’s made in the best interest of the students. Plus, he has been instrumental in improving student morale.

“We thought that when it came to acknowledging this leadership, President Wynne was especially deserving of the Gordon Henry Award.”

The Gordon Henry Award is named for Dr. Gordon Henry, who served UND in various positions from 1965 to 1998, when he retired as Vice  President for Student Affairs.

Said Cassie Gerhardt, “Gordon is often credited with being the first and most frequent administrator to ask the question, ‘But is it right for students?’

“Whenever decisions needed to be made, Gordon often stopped the considerations and processes to ask that question. And so, this award is in recognition of that ongoing commitment to students throughout his career.”

‘Moving forward, striving for excellence’

President Wynne said he was delighted and grateful to be given the award.

“I was surprised, pleased and greatly honored when leaders of UND’s student government presented me with the Gordon Henry Award, especially because its namesake is someone who always made students a No. 1 priority,” Wynne said.

“Nearly a year ago, I accepted the position as UND’s interim president with the motto: Moving forward, striving for excellence. It has been a distinct privilege to work hand in hand with our students and their leaders. I believe we have advanced the University while maintaining and improving the high standards we set for and expect of ourselves.

“However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone associated with UND to deal with rapid changes under extremely trying conditions. This award is a reflection of a true team effort between UND’s students, its faculty and staff as we have together faced the challenge of adapting to and overcoming the new realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m so grateful to UND Student Government for this honor and for the opportunity to serve our students.”