For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: SMHS at UND’s 140th Founders Day

The North Dakota Legislative Assembly is almost halfway through its current session. We have about a week to go before the legislature pauses for two days at the end of the month for “crossover,” when bills in one chamber are handed over to the other chamber. Proposed funding for the North Dakota University System, including UND and the UND SMHS, is contained in House Bill (HB) 1003, which will be considered by the Senate in March. Although the date has yet to be set, I expect to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee concerning the bill (as I did in January before the House Appropriations Committee – Education and Environment Division). Thus far, things have been going well regarding our funding request, although we still have a long way to go before we know the final approved amount (as I’ve outlined in prior columns). But, in general, so far so good.

One especially positive development is a proposed increase in the amount of funding that might be available to the SMHS through the Challenge Grant program. This is a match program where a donor to the UND Alumni Association & Foundation can increase her or his gift amount by the inclusion of state match dollars. This opportunity is highly attractive to potential donors, and we are excited about the possibilities the potential match provides. As you may recall, our two highest priorities for philanthropic contributions are for scholarships to help mitigate student debt and for endowed professorships to help us recruit and retain the best possible faculty members in the currently highly competitive market for talent.

I have no further information regarding HB 1446, which proposes a four-year pilot program at Dickinson State University and Bismarck State College for the revision of the faculty tenure process. The bill proposes criteria for quantifying and reviewing the performance of tenured faculty – requiring them to “generate more tuition or grant revenue than the combined total of the salary, fringe benefits, compensation, and other expenses of the tenured faculty member plus all other costs of employing the faculty member, including employment taxes” – and provides a mechanism for each president to terminate the employment of such a faculty member who is felt to be under-performing. Needless to say, the bill generated a lot of comment and testimony, with most of it in opposition. We will see what develops, but at least in its present form, it will have no direct impact on any of our faculty.

There are a number of other health-related bills that are working their way through the process as well, but none of them appear to have a direct impact on the SMHS. I’ll update you again as the session progresses.

On another note, congratulations are in order to our many team members who were honored last night at the 140th UND Founders Day celebration. Grace Karikari, Ph.D., assistant professor in the SMHS Department of Indigenous Health, was awarded the UND Excellence in Course Development and Innovative Teaching Strategies Award for the novel approach she has taken in her Public Health 573 course “Grant Writing and Management.” Likewise, Alexei Tulin, Ph.D., professor in the SMHS Department of Biomedical Sciences, was named the winner of the UND Foundation/McDermott Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and/or Creative Activity. Finally, Ashley Bayne, M.P.H., assistant director of the SMHS Public Health Program in the Department of Population Health, was one of several faculty, staff, and students from across several colleges at UND to be named winners of the UND Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Research and Creative Activity Award for their pandemic-based research project.

In addition to these faculty winners, Katie Kucera, education specialist with our Department of Medical Laboratory Science, was among the academic advisors to be given the VPAA Award for Outstanding Professional Academic Advising.

Congratulations to each of you and the many other SMHS-based honorees and retirees who were recognized at this year’s banquet. These faculty and staff include:

25 Year Honorees

  • Cynthia Flom-Meland, Physical Therapy
  • Melissa Gardner, Family & Community Medicine
  • Donita Johnson, Bismarck Center for Family Medicine
  • Mark Poolman, Sports Medicine
  • Linda Ray, Medical Laboratory Science
  • Christine Wiese, Bismarck Center for Family Medicine

Retiring/Retired Honorees

  • Susan Jeno, Physical Therapy
  • James Roerig, Psychiatry & Behavioral Science
  • Margaret Smith, Biomedical Sciences
  • Stephen Tinguely, Pediatrics
  • Min Wu, Biomedical Sciences

You all make our School an exciting and special place to work every day.

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