For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

From the Dean: Gratitude

There were three noteworthy events this week that shared a common theme – that of gratitude. UND President Armacost has been highlighting this virtue recently, and I certainly concur. The three events followed each other on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday earlier this week.

The first event was the “State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation” (AAF) presentation by Foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson-Zink. DeAnna outlined the phenomenal fundraising year that just ended this past June 30. It turns out that thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of nearly 9,000 donors, the AAF raised over $70 million this past year in support of UND students, faculty, programs, and facilities. The largest gift this year was $3.5 million, but all of the gifts are important and appreciated. We heard from students who were able to continue their education at UND thanks to financial support from, among other programs, the Angel Fund that came into prominence at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their expressions of gratitude were heartfelt and moving. By the way, Susan and I have contributed to this fund, and hope that you’ll consider it too. I can assure you, the good feelings that follow are felt not just by the recipients of the fund! Congratulations to DeAnna and her team (especially our own Jeff Dodson, the School’s Director of Development), and thank you to the SMHS team and especially our generous donors. In fact, the SMHS was especially grateful to our donors for contributing the most annual funding that we have ever received – almost $12 million in just one year! We are profoundly grateful for this support that empowers our two major goals – mitigation of student debt through scholarships, and the development of endowed chairs to assist in faculty recruitment and retention efforts. I’ve set a goal of adding one endowed chair each year, and last year we met that challenge thanks to the incredible generosity of Dr. Gopal Das and the Wadhwani family. Thank you!

The second event also involved the UND AAF. It was the inaugural celebration of faculty members who have been awarded such endowed positions at UND (we currently are in the process of recruiting the first Wadhwani chair). The Endowed Positions Award Ceremony featured introductions of all of the faculty members who have received endowed funding support and were able to attend the event. I was proud to lead the SMHS contingent of such faculty to the stage for recognition. Our faculty with endowed positions include:

  • Jau-Shin Lou – Dr. Roger Gilbertson Endowed Chair in Neurology Funded by Sanford Health
  • Richard Van Eck – Monson Endowed Chair in Medical Education Funded by Dr. David & Lola Monson
  • Andrew McLean – NRI/Lee A. Christoferson Sr., M.D., Endowed Chair in Neuroscience Funded by Neuropsychiatric Research Institute
  • Donald Jurivich – Eva L. Gilbertson, M.D., Distinguished Chair of Geriatrics Funded by Eva L. Gilbertson Foundation
  • Amanda Haage – Dr. Karl and Carolyn Kaess Endowed Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology Funded by M. Carolyn Kaess
  • David Schmitz – Dr. Verrill J. and Ruth Fischer Professor in Family and Community Medicine Funded by Verrill & Ruth Fischer

All but one of our endowed position-holders were able to attend. Of special poignance was the fact that Dr. David and Lola Monson, the sponsors of the chair in medical education occupied by the inaugural recipient, Dr. Rick Van Eck, made a special trip to Grand Forks to attend the event with their daughter. Rick and I had lunch with the Monsons earlier in the day, along with DeAnna and President Armacost. So, thank you David and Lola – we are so very grateful for your caring, sharing, and generosity.

The last event took place yesterday, and it was, unlike the other two, somewhat bittersweet. It was a reception and farewell for Dr. Don Warne, who, as you undoubtedly know, will be moving to Johns Hopkins University on Sept. 1 as the first American Indian full professor at that institution. Don has done an incredible job of building our Indigenous programming at the School through the Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program, establishing the first Ph.D. program in Indigenous Health, forming the first Department of Indigenous Health in North America, serving as associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, and his acting as principal investigator for a multi-million dollar federal grant to study the impact of historical trauma on Indigenous people and their resilience in the face of that trauma. While we are sad to see Don go, we are so proud of his numerous accomplishments that culminated in the high honor of being recruited to Hopkins. All best wishes Dr. Warne – we are truly grateful for all that you have done!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences