July 24 message from President Armacost: Getting to know UND


Please watch my video.

I want to be a NoDak. What I mean by that is that I want to learn all I can about the history and traditions of the University of North Dakota. Yes, I have a long way to go, but in the past month since Kathy and I have been on campus, we’ve enjoyed walking Sadie around UND, meeting people (Hi, Matt and Bella!), and absorbing as much as we can about the University and those who made it great.

For example, whether I am in Twamley Hall or at University House, I’m treated at noon to the strains of the song “Alma Mater.” It was written by John Macnie, a Scottish-born and educated professor who taught at UND from 1885 to 1903. He taught French and German, but was also fluent in other languages and literature. He taught math and philosophy as well.

The first two lines of “Alma Mater” are:

Hail to thee, O Alma Mater! Hail to thee with heart and tongue!
Pride we feel and love yet greater, While we raise our grateful song.

A century later, these words resonate with me because they express the importance of gratitude. I want this to be a contagious idea on our campus. Saying thanks to those who go out of their way to make our University, our students, our faculty, our staff, our community, and our state better should become a habit. Whether it’s through giving or through volunteering, we should be gracious to those who those who help the University. We should never be shy about expressing our gratitude.

I’ve been reading the biography of John D. Odegard, the founder of UND’s School of Aerospace Sciences, which bears his name today. What a fascinating individual! It’s interesting to contrast how university programs were launched 40 years ago with how we do things today.

Odegard got NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin – the second person to ever walk on the moon – to come to UND to help organize a space education program. As a result of Odegard’s visionary efforts in the early 1980s, we have Professor Pablo de Leon in our Space Studies Department designing space suits and conducting experiments for NASA’s deep-space exploration program. It also positions UND’s Aerospace School to pursue opportunities with the newly formed U.S. Space Force.

As I familiarize myself with UND’s campus and its history, I start thinking about opportunities. For example, North Dakota is a state without a literary landmark. We have graduates from our University who became famous in the literary world. I can envision a literary landmark honoring such a person at a symbolic campus location – this is an idea worth exploring!

While I was at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I was fascinated with its mid-century modern architecture to the point where I became a bit of an aficionado. I know UND is part of a historic district that includes late 19th and 20th century revivals architecture. There’s another opportunity for me to explore one of my interests and become even more knowledgeable about the rich history of UND.

I have begun my journey to becoming a NoDak. I look forward to sharing with you and learning more about the history and traditions of our University.

President Andy Armacost