Kathy and my first Homecoming Week at UND is one that we won’t soon forget. And not just because of this year’s atypical celebrations, done virtually over Zoom and livestreams, due to the pandemic. We had the honor of starting this week with my inauguration as the 13th president of the University. “Lucky 13” as Grand Forks Mayor and UND alumnus Brandon Bochenski put it at Monday’s inauguration ceremony. He is correct in that I am very fortunate to have been chosen for this amazing opportunity, and I want to thank all who have offered well-wishes to Kathy and me this week. We are humbled by your words and gestures.
I would have much rather had a room filled with all of you to share in the moment. Instead it was a special family moment, livestreamed to the world.
I want to highlight a portion of the inauguration that truly resonated with me. It was the words of wisdom bestowed to me in the “Presidential Reflections Video,” featuring all six living UND presidents and recordings from the great Tom Clifford. The willingness of these individuals to take time to talk so fondly about their time here is a testament to how special this place truly is.
The whole inauguration was a bit surreal for me, kind of a “This is Your Life,” mixed with lots of much-too-kind words and all the formalities that come with installing new presidents. The day was made even more special as Kathy and I were joined by my mother, Sue, my sister, Katie Muhle, and our daughter, Audrey, who kindly embarrassed me and brought me to tears with family stories and gentle ribbing. Our daughter, Ava, watched from afar and offered an equally moving message via video.
When my turn came to speak, I had to clear my head and dry my eyes. My inaugural address, a video of which is below along with a full transcript, concluded with a note on how we as a University community can embrace change. The pandemic reminds us that there are forces we can’t control.
It’s my goal to ensure the concept of change is a positive one – because at UND – all of us can change the world!
I hope you enjoy my full address.
Enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading.