SMHS Dean Joshua Wynne named interim president

State Board also picks its own, Dr. Casey Ryan, and former UND business dean Dennis Elbert to co-lead committee to replace President Mark Kennedy

Dr. Joshua Wynne, UND vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine & Health Sciences, has been named interim president of the University of North Dakota by a unanimous vote from the State Board of Higher Education.

The doctor is in.

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education on Thursday named Dr. Joshua Wynne, UND vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine & Health Sciences, to be the University’s interim president while a permanent successor is sought for outgoing UND President Mark Kennedy. The vote was unanimous by the State Board.

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott had submitted to the board two finalists for the position: Wynne and Dennis Elbert, a former longtime dean of the UND College of Business & Public Administration.

“I thank Dr. Wynne for accepting the position as interim president at the University of North Dakota,” said Hagerott in a prepared statement. “I have faith that his demonstrated leadership qualities and deep understanding of UND’s culture make him an excellent interim selection that will bring a strength of connecting the community stakeholders and wide-ranging alumni network with the faculty, staff, and students, which together provide a solid foundation to our state’s flagship university.

“We have an opportunity, through his leadership, to provide a seamless transition in the selection process of a permanent UND president.”

Wynne is set to take over on an interim basis once Kennedy departs UND for his new job as the president of the four-campus University of Colorado System in June. Wynne will retain his current duties as vice president and dean while he is serving as interim president.

“It’s truly an honor to accept this important role in the history of this great institution,” Wynne said. “I am humbled by the chance to work with the students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends of the University of North Dakota as interim president. Together, we will continue the momentum we’ve already achieved through the One UND Strategic Plan.”

Kennedy said the board’s selection makes sense.

“I’m very excited about Josh Wynne being interim president,” Kennedy said. “He brings continuity, and he’s been with us from the beginning in creating the One UND Strategic Plan. He’s highly respected — not just here in the state — but across the country as well. He’s an excellent academic, and I know he has a passion for North Dakota and the University of North Dakota. So, it’s a very exciting pick that will mean good things ahead.”

DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, gave voice to her support of Wynne in a Thursday message to alumni and other friends of the University.

“In working with Dr. Wynne over the years, he has been a key player in relating to donors to create opportunities for students,” she said. “He is a great partner to us here at the Foundation and is someone who truly cares about this University, its students, our alumni and our community.”

Search chairs picked

On Thursday, the State Board also looked ahead to the search for a permanent successor to Mark Kennedy by naming Elbert and current SBHE Board Member Dr. Casey Ryan as co-chairs of the eventual search committee that is created. The board also approved deviating from its own policies on presidential search committees, opting to limit the panel to not exceed 11 members, in an attempt to expedite the process. The move doesn’t impact the constituent makeup of the search committee, rather it effectively reduces the typical size of the committee by not requiring a prescribed number of  members from each constituency.

Ryan said he looks forward to working closely with Elbert and the University community in forming the search committee.

“We will try to have a very balanced group that can work together and move this ahead on a timely basis,” Ryan said.

Wynne has been with UND since 2004, when he was recruited to serve as executive associate dean and associate dean for academic affairs at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences. He will maintain his duties as vice president for health affairs and dean while in the interim role.

More about Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH:

After receiving his medical degree from Boston University, Wynne completed residencies in internal medicine and cardiology at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Following two decades in Michigan, in 2004 he was recruited to UND to serve as executive associate dean and associate dean for academic affairs at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences. Wynne was named UND’s vice president for health affairs and dean of its medical school in 2010. Wynne’s work with the University, the City of Grand Forks, regional health partners and the State Legislature was instrumental in the funding and eventual construction of UND’s new $124-million School of Medicine & Health Sciences headquarters. The ribbon was cut on the building in 2016. He also has helped lead the successful implementation of the North Dakota Healthcare Workforce Initiative, which is transforming health-care delivery and the health of everyday North Dakotans each day in a variety of ways. Wynne also has authored or co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 60 review articles, several book chapters, and one book.