Late night live – in the early morning

Annual Wake Up to UND perks up Chamber and campus audiences

Live, from the brand new Memorial Union in Grand Forks, it’s Wake Up to UND!

With a late-night talk show theme, the 7:30 a.m. program featured flowing coffee and a program that “perked up” the audience with UND spark and spirit.

The theme was New Faces, New Places, and the 400 attending the annual “Wake Up to UND,” event held in partnership with The Chamber, seemed delighted with both.

“It’s a thrill to gather in person in the New Memorial Union,” UND President Andy Armacost said as he bounded on stage after being introduced by Chamber Chair Dave Zavoral.

It was Armacost’s first in-person Wake Up to UND, and he was clearly thrilled to be there.

In his “monologue,” he said he and his wife Kathy returned home to University House one evening to find the Pride of the North Marching Band practicing near their lawn, and Director Rob Brooks invited Armacost to direct the band.

Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

As he stood on the ladder and took charge, Armacost said was excited to hear the band respond to his direction, he said, as he waved an imaginary baton and danced onstage.

“Then in the corner of my eye, I saw Rob really directing the band,” Armacost said, adding that even though he’s at the front of the stage, it’s the energy and talent of people behind the scenes who make great things happen.

Armacost thanked the sponsors of the program, and introduced videos of the Fighting Hawks mascot, who shared UND spirit as he visited program sponsors. Other videos throughout the program featured outstanding students, achievements, and the new spaces on campus.

New spaces include the renovated Chester Fritz Library, the Gershman Graduate Center, and the new Memorial Union, Armacost said, adding that those new places are welcoming the faces of both new and returning students.

Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

Spark and spirit

“Our first guest, Kaelan Reedy, was elected as the new student body president,” Armacost said. “Spark the spirit was one of his campaign themes, developed as a result of students who were isolated during the pandemic. He believes the new Memorial Union will help reignite student spirit.”

Reedy spoke about how many students struggled during the pandemic and its isolation, and how new leadership, new buildings and coming back to campus intersected.

“I thought it was an excellent opportunity for the campus to reignite the flame, to see a rebirth of the campus,” Reedy said. He discussed his priorities of working with the Grand Forks community, giving students opportunities for internships and experiential learning, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion.

Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

Storming Grand Forks

“Kaelan is a tough act to follow,” said Armacost’s second guest, new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Eric Link.

When Armacost asked Link what drew him to UND, Link replied that he had been interested in UND for some time. He first visited Grand Forks in March of 2013, and flew in late on a dark and snowy night. The next morning, he looked at the Grand Forks Herald to find that the fifth blizzard of the winter had been named Eric.

“The headline was, ‘Eric storms through Grand Forks,’” Link said. “It was destiny. I told my wife that if the stars align and we could make our way to North Dakota, we should do so. And here we are.”

Link discussed his academic background, which includes theatre and literature.

“Like so many undergraduate students, I changed my major about six times before I settled on my degree,” he said. “I was always that kid with a novel under his arm. I just liked to read.”

When it was time for graduate school, Link flipped a coin to decide between theatre and literature. Literature won. His experiences teaching in the Ukraine and Switzerland through the Fulbright Program made him an advocate who encourages study abroad, he added. Another priority includes partnering with the Greater Grand Forks community.

And on Link’s bucket list? Learning to curl.

Link said he’s a huge fan of the Olympics, especially the winter sports, and late one night he came across curling on television.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Link said. “People were taking rocks and throwing them down. And there were brooms. People were screaming. I said, I have got to do that at some point in my life. If I don’t curl here, then I’ve missed my opportunity. I need to reach out to the [curling] club. If you need an inexperienced curler who’s never thrown a stone, here I am.”

Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

On the court

Armacost’s final guest, new head women’s basketball coach Mallory Bernhard, is the first former UND player to hold the position. Originally from Iowa, she has embraced UND since her playing days.

“I have a lot of pride for North Dakota, and I love that our girls get to put North Dakota on their jersey,” Bernhard said. “I hope that they step out onto the floor every day and represent our state and university with a lot of pride. I have a lot of love and respect for the tradition of our program and our university, and we have an unbelievable community.”

Bernhard discussed the new transfer portal and its impact, noting that three new players have come to UND through the portal, as well as building a new program.

“I’m very big on building confidence in young women,” she said. “We have an unbelievable group of 17 women that I get a chance to coach every day, and I love every one of them. I want each and every one to go out confidently on the court, of course, but into the real world as well.”

She brought three players onto the stage who challenged President Armacost to a game of “UND,” and encouraged the audience to cheer on their team by waving the “fans” on each table. With trick shots and spinning a basketball atop a finger, Armacost gamely did his best, losing by a nose.

“I’m thrilled that you chose to wake up with UND, and thank you for supporting UND,” Armacost said as the Pride of the North Marching Band filed in to play a rousing version of the UND Fight Song and other pieces that energized the audience as they exited, smiling and laughing.

The program is available online.