Dear Campus Community,
Today marks a changing of the guard at the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences as Robert Kraus joins the UND team to begin his tenure as the fourth dean in the school’s storied 52-year history. I am confident that his broad and varied experience in aerospace education, aviation, administration and research will serve UND well into the 21st century as the school slips “the surly bonds of earth” to extend its reach deep into space.
We also salute Paul Lindseth – who served as dean of the Aerospace School for the past four years – as he steps down to return to his position as a professor in the Department of Aviation. During his 32-year UND career, Paul never forgot John Odegard’s mission of providing students with a high-quality education at a reasonable cost.
In the battle against COVID-19, advances in UND’s new testing and vaccine capabilities represent an important opportunity for our campus community to get ahead of the virus, tamp down cases on campus and mitigate against community spread.
The BinaxNOW antigen test is currently available at multiple locations around campus, as well as the High Performance Center. This is a “point of care” test providing results in about 15 minutes. While not quite as accurate as the “gold standard” oral and nasal PCR test, it can provide much faster results – especially for those experiencing COVID symptoms.
In addition, the State of North Dakota has announced a phased plan for vaccine delivery that will enable our medical residents and allied health training students to receive their shot – along with the faculty and staff who work directly with them – during the 1A phase. This phase also includes first responders and long-term care residents and staff.
Our most vulnerable campus community members are included in the 1B phase. Although it’s not the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe there’s room for cautious optimism in adding more arrows to our biomedical quiver.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the North Dakota Legislature went into session last week. On Monday morning, the State Board of Higher Education will present its budget plans for 2021-2023 biennium to the Senate Appropriations Committee. I will be representing UND before the committee at 11 a.m., along with Student Body President Matt Ternus, Jed Shivers, vice president for finance and operations, and Karla Mongeon-Stewart, associate vice president for finance. Joshua Wynne, dean of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences and vice president for health affairs, will testify at 2 p.m.
This legislative session is occurring during an unprecedented time in our state’s and nation’s history. UND will be advancing some important funding initiatives, such as much-needed improvements to Merrifield Hall and upgrades to the Aerospace School’s flight apron at the Grand Forks Airport. We’ll ask the legislature to continue investing in Challenge Grants that at up to $60 million to the North Dakota University System. Matching opportunities to spur private-sector investment in academic initiatives is also important to UND. We’ll be seeking basic research funding investments to bolster economic development across the state of North Dakota while making the case that UND is well positioned to provide high quality educational opportunities to assist our state’s citizens in post-pandemic recovery.
Finally, Monday, Jan. 18, is the day we celebrate and observe the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who will forever be known as one of our nation’s most influential figures in the struggle for equality and civil rights. We honor him as a model and example of how to seek and ensure the rights of all people.
It was Dr. King who said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” I hope you will join me to take a moment to think about the sacrifice Dr. King made to assure that all Americans enjoy the same rights and consider how education continues to advance his vision – a world in which children aren’t “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”