UND’s Wynne chosen for statewide leadership roles

Former Interim President Joshua Wynne’s executive service will continue as N.D.’s chief health strategist and NDUS task force chair

In the final days of his interim presidency at UND, Dr. Joshua Wynne was named the state’s chief health strategist under Gov. Doug Burgum and as the chair of the North Dakota University System Smart Restart Task Force.

Dr. Joshua Wynne, dean of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences, vice president for health affairs and former interim president of UND, has been tapped by senior North Dakota officials to fill two statewide leadership posts.

In the first appointment, announced May 27, Gov. Doug Burgum named Wynne to be the state’s chief health strategist. In that role, Wynne will work with Dr. Andrew Stahl, interim state health officer overseeing the North Dakota Department of Health, to develop a world-class public health enterprise in partnership with the North Dakota University System (NDUS), local public health entities, the private sector and local, state, federal and tribal governments.

The North Dakota University System is the source of Wynne’s other appointment. On May 28, the system announced that Wynne would lead a task force to implement a three-tiered approach to re-opening North Dakota campuses. The NDUS Smart Restart Task Force held its first meeting last week.

“Dr. Wynne has done a marvelous job, both as interim president at the University of North Dakota and as leader for the statewide NDUS COVID Restart Task Force,” said Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System. “With the arrival of President Armacost at UND, this is a great opportunity for the NDUS and its 11 campuses to have even more direct engagement in the state’s pandemic response.”

Chief Health Strategist

“This emergency has revealed a historic opportunity to develop a more comprehensive, collaborative and strategic approach to public health in North Dakota,” said North Dakota Gov. Burgum.

“The scale, urgency and complex nature of the situation have underscored the need to provide additional capacity to carry out both the day-to-day operations and strategic direction. Dr. Wynne and Dr. Stahl have the broad expertise and experience we need to create a blueprint for development of the best public health system in the nation.”

Wynne, whose term as UND’s interim president expired May 31, will split his time between the temporary NDDoH leadership position and his role since 2010 as UND’s vice president for health affairs and dean of the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Grand Forks.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Gov. Burgum, the Department of Health and the great leadership team across the state of North Dakota to catalyze transformative change in the public health enterprise and contribute to the efforts to improve the well-being of North Dakotans across our state,” Wynne said.

UND President Andrew Armacost expressed his support for Wynne’s appointment.

“Josh’s background as a leader, strategic thinker, physician, and public health advocate makes him the perfect choice to advise Gov. Burgum,” Armacost said. “This collaboration demonstrates how higher education can support public health transformation while enhancing research, education and workforce development. His example will inspire new learners in the importance of public health.”

Task Force Chair

The NDUS Smart Restart Task Force is meant to help guide best practices as recommended by Gov. Doug Burgum’s ND Smart Restart plan as well as comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

State Board of Higher Education Chair Nick Hacker said, “The task force has been formed to assist the North Dakota University System campuses in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic so that students, faculty, and staff can return to their institutions in a way that maximizes safety and minimizes the chance of further spread of the virus. In addition to health and safety, student success and learning is our priority.”

The group will collate the guidelines that have been created for each NDUS campus, recognizing that differences among the various campuses necessitates specific accommodations and differing local arrangements. The task force will also collect data for use by the campuses and include inputs from students, faculty and staff.

The task force will be composed of three working groups, one focusing on the large campuses, one on the medium-sized campuses, and one on the smaller campuses. In addition, the task force will have representation from a faculty infectious disease expert, NDUS staff and legal counsel, and will invite input and assistance from a member of the State Board of Higher Education.

“I am honored to have been asked by Chancellor Hagerott to assist the various NDUS institutions in this effort,” said Wynne. “We hope to provide useful assistance as each campus responds to the COVID-19 threat.”

The task force will meet periodically in the beginning stage to provide its findings, guidelines and suggestions to the chancellor, then with the NDUS institutions and the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education.