For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: Holiday cheers!

The holiday season certainly is upon us! Over the past two weeks we’ve had five scheduled UND SMHS holiday gatherings – one on each of our four regional campuses in Grand Forks (Northeast campus), Fargo (Southeast campus), Bismarck (Southwest campus), and Minot (Northwest campus), along with a Holiday Luncheon this past Monday in our building on the main UND campus. Weather was a challenge for some of the events, as you probably know, but the turnout at the Holiday Luncheon on Monday was especially impressive – UND Dining indicated that we used around 530 plates. And even if a few of us went back for seconds for more of the delicious food (I plead guilty!), I’d still guess that we had 425 or 450 attendees. There was good food, good cheer, and good conversations throughout the building. We were pleased to welcome UND President Andy Armacost to the luncheon, and he chatted with a variety of students, faculty, and staff. Thanks to all who attended!

On another note, the new UND strategic plan (called UND LEADS) will be unveiled on January 20, 2023. A tremendous amount of effort has gone into this strategic plan that builds on the foundation of our prior plan: One UND. There has been extensive campus and community input into the new strategic plan, and it is now ready for release to the general community. One UND was the blueprint for University strategy and growth from 2017 through 2022, and UND LEADS will build on that foundation for the next five years. The School used the One UND framework to develop our own strategic implementation plan that has run from 2018 through 2023. Thus, with the imminent release of UND LEADS, the School’s Faculty Council will again begin the process of using the UND LEADS footprint to formulate goals and measurement metrics so we can gauge our success in achieving the strategic goals of the new plan. That process will take place occur throughout 2023 so that when our current strategic plan sunsets at the end of 2023, we will have our new plan ready to implement starting in January 2024.

The SMHS’s Faculty Council has overseen the periodic review process of how the implementation of One UND has been going, and it will follow a similar process starting in a year with our internalized version of UND LEADS. I think we will be as successful (or more) in achieving our strategic goals with UND LEADS as we’ve been with One UND. For example, I’ve recently highlighted the record year we’ve had in research support (nearly $50 million in external funding in fiscal year 2022) and in philanthropy (nearly $12 million the same year). Similarly, our students’ achievements have been outstanding, such as the 100% pass rate of our medical students over the last few years on their National Board exams. Likewise, our Department of Occupational Therapy reports a 100% graduate pass rate on their profession’s national certification examination over the past 4 years, and our other health sciences departments continue to report above national average performance on licensure and certification exams.

I hope that you will take a look at the UND LEADS plan once it is released in January. We’ll be sure to post a link to an electronic version of it then. Led by co-chairs Lynette Krenelka and Professor James Mochoruk, the Planning Committee did a masterful job of soliciting broad input and then distilling that feedback into concrete and actionable objectives that can be measured and tracked. I find that too many proposed strategic plans offer lofty goals, but ones that are too amorphous to characterize and especially measure. As the expression in business circles goes, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

I am hopeful that our process at the SMHS will allow the internalization of the precepts underlying UND LEADS and the development of measurable, relevant, and meaningful metrics that we can track over time. I’m looking forward to the journey, and hope that you will be involved in the process in some way.

With the upcoming holidays, this will be my last column for 2022. The first column for 2023 is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 6. Until then, my wife, Dr. Susan Farkas, joins me in wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season, a Happy New Year, and a peaceful, safe, fulfilling, and productive 2023.

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