The grand tour

Governor was big man on campus Friday as he got an up-close look at the present and future of UND

Bill Chaves, Doug Burgum and Brent Sanford

UND Athletics Director Bill Chaves (left), North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford looked over project proposals at Memorial Stadium on Friday. It was the only stop made by the governor and company on a rolling tour of campus; they inspected locker rooms and offices occupied by UND Football athletes and staff. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford got the grand tour of his alma mater Friday.

It was both a stroll down memory lane and an early glimpse of possible changes yet to come for the state’s second-in-command.

“I remember this being the coldest walk, from Walsh to Gamble,” recalled Sanford as the van tour rolled down University Avenue. Gamble Hall, the current business college hub is where he earned his accounting degree in 1994.

Sanford, a native of Watford City, N.D., was joined on the tour by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, state first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford as part of an all-day visit to UND.

Along the way, UND President Mark Kennedy and Facilities head Mike Pieper served as tour guides and set the scene for multiple planned projects, including what the University will propose during the next legislative session. The tour showcased future sites of UND’s new steam plant, the proposed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) building and a new College of Business & Public Administration location to replace Gamble Hall, among other projects.

Campus connections

Though not alums like Sanford, the others also had small UND connections that played out over the tour. Upon driving past the old Hyslop Sports Center, the proposed future site of the STEM project, Burgum mentioned he once saw a concert at the multipurpose gym and fieldhouse.

“I was almost crushed at those doors trying to see Three Dog Night,” he gestured toward the West-facing entrances. “It was like a riot.”

While attending Arizona State University, the first lady came to UND, one year, for summer school.  A native of Jamestown, N.D., she mentioned her affinity for playing softball while in Grand Forks, to a point of nearly affecting her grades.

“I was probably playing four or five days a week,” she quipped.

Doug Burgum, Bubba Schweigert and First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum

UND Football’s head coach Kyle “Bubba” Schweigert led Gov. Burgum and first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum through Memorial Stadium’s offices after examining plans for additions to the High Performance Center. The near-century-old facility served a role in communicating the need for UND to modernize many of its buildings. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Stroll through time

The lone stop during the driving tour was Memorial Stadium, where Kyle “Bubba” Schweigert, UND Football’s head coach, and North Dakota Athletics Director Bill Chaves welcomed the Governor and his entourage. Chaves briefly presented plans for the completion of North Dakota Athletics’ indoor practice facility, the High Performance Center (HPC), and the future of Memorial Stadium.

“As we know through athletic recruiting, there is a tremendous difference when someone is physically on campus to not only see the work that is happening but to feel it as well,” Chaves told UND Today about the Governor’s visit. “We were incredibly honored that we could spend a few minutes with their team to provide insight as to where we hope to be going.”

They were able to see the football team’s aging locker room as well as staff offices inside the nearly century-old Memorial Stadium. North Dakota Athletics’ goal is to provide a new space for the team by completing the second phase of the HPC. With a western addition, between the stadium and the existing HPC, the facility would provide much improved working spaces for students and staff. It could also mean eliminating millions in maintenance required at the stadium, which first opened in 1927.

“While we appreciate the history and tradition of the facility, we need to upgrade as we continue down the path of Division I competition,” Coach Bubba said. “It was an honor to have the leader of our state take a tour and see where we want to go.”

Mark Kennedy, Debbie Kennedy, Doug Burgum, Bubba Schweigert, Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, Bill Chaves and Brent Sanford.

From left to right: UND President Mark Kennedy, first lady Debbie Kennedy, Gov. Burgum, UND Football Head Coach Bubba Schweigert, first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, UND Athletics Director Bill Chaves and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford pose to commemorate their stop at Memorial Stadium. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Big picture

The desired addition to the HPC also could impact the bigger picture on campus. It would open space not only for North Dakota Athletics, but for UND’s Reserve Officer Training Corps as well.

With such a change, Pieper stressed the potential for the museum to expand.

“If the ROTC could move to the High Performance Center, the museum would be able to connect their building to the Armory,” he said, pointing to the space between the two buildings. The expansion could enhance the museum’s offerings, such as a larger restaurant situated in a connecting atrium. It would effectively double NDMOA’s operating space. Though located in the heart of campus, the NDMOA is not officially part of the University.

Completing phase two of the HPC would also help open the site of the new STEM project. The area between Hyslop’s north end and Starcher Hall would undergo major remodeling and demolition, eliminating $74 million in capital renewal needs and providing up-to-date “wet labs” for an array of academic disciplines.

Also part of the STEM project is the proposed removal of Witmer Hall to create more open quad space for students.

Both the Governor and first lady admired the architectural qualities of UND’s old buildings.

President Kennedy assured them that future structures built on campus would maintain the architectural style for which UND is well known.

“I have often said I believe UND’s campus has some of the most beautiful bones of any university I have seen,” he said. “The collegiate gothic aesthetic of this campus is a distinguishing feature for us in this region, making us truly look like a flagship university. We intend to maintain this style as we move forward with our campus projects.”

Pieper thought the tour left a positive impression with the governor.

“The tour paired well with the conversations of the morning, in that UND is taking prior feedback into account,” he said. “I think the governor showed appreciation for UND’s needs, especially pertaining to the modernization of our buildings.”