For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: Endless events

The start of the fall semester has proven to be a busy week and a half! A variety of exciting events took place both at UND and the SMHS. First up at UND was last Thursday, when President Armacost presented the State of the University Address, followed by a “Picnic with the Prez” at University House. In his address, the President highlighted a variety of examples of the excellence that permeates UND, and he looked forward in his presentation to the future through UND LEADS, our strategic plan going forward. The theme of Andy’s address focused on the collective effort needed to achieve success, with faculty, staff, students, friends, and others coming together for the common good. In a subsequent presentation at the UND SMHS, the President proclaimed this year as the “Year of Connectivity” to emphasize the importance of all of us working together.

This event was followed on Monday with the groundbreaking ceremony for the new addition to the Fritz Pollard Athletic Center that will be called the Nodak Insurance Company Athletic Performance Center, in recognition of the lead gift that made this facility possible. The new space will house facilities to support our athletes, including locker and weight rooms and office space for coaches. And it perhaps goes without saying that such an upgrade will benefit our Department of Sports Medicine and the Master of Athletic Training program it houses. The athletic center is named in honor of Fritz Pollard, Jr., who was a three-time all-conference football player at UND and went on to win a bronze medal in the 1936 Olympics – the same Olympics where fellow African American Jesse Owens won a gold medal in the 100-meter dash, much to the chagrin of the Nazi Party in the event’s host nation Germany.

On Tuesday, DeAnna Carlson-Zink, the CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation (UNDAAF), gave a spirted address summarizing the amazing work the Foundation has been doing with donors and friends to garner philanthropic support for UND. The four major areas of fundraising are for student scholarship support, endowed faculty positions, programmatic support, and facility construction/renovation. DeAnna reported that the Foundation’s endowment has grown to an amazing $380.4 million, doubling over the past decade! In her presentation, she displayed some of the bricks that formed the foundation of UND’s first building – Old Main – that was built in 1883, and she wondered if any of the townspeople who may have gathered for the laying of the cornerstone of the building would have had any idea of what an amazing campus would evolve over the subsequent 140 years.

The next day there was another wonderful event back at the UNDAAF Gorecki Center when UND held its second annual Faculty Investiture Ceremony and Celebration. This event honored all 45 faculty members who hold an endowed chair, professorship, or fellow designation that is supported by philanthropic dollars. At the UND SMHS, we are honored to have six such endowed positions:

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

The School also hosted a variety of events to welcome various student classes to campus. The Department of Occupational Therapy hosted its Preparing for Academics, Connections, and Excellence (PACE) program for incoming students. New student orientation activities occurred in-person for the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, the Master of Public Health program, and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, while the Departments of Sports Medicine and Physician Assistant Studies welcomed their classes virtually earlier this year. On Monday, President Armacost and I both were present and helped to welcome the incoming students in the Department of Physical Therapy.

Later today, we will present stethoscopes to the medical student Class of 2027 as part of our Adopt-A-Med Student program where donors provide funding for stethoscopes for the students. Although Susan and I are traveling today, and I won’t be at the event in person, I recorded a video that will be played during the ceremony where I stress – recalling President Armacost’ s declaration of the “Year of Connectivity” – that the stethoscope symbolically connects the student and doctor with the patient through the ”laying on of hands,” and also connects the student with the generous donor who provided the funding for the stethoscope. By the way, we hold similar “Adopt-A-Student” events for our health sciences programs, often embedded within the programs’ orientation events. To date, nearly 100 other donors have given to our “Adopt” programs for students in our OT, PT, athletic training, medical lab science, physician assistant, and public health programs. Amazing!

As you can tell, it has been a full and busy time at UND and the SMHS. The new academic year certainly is off to a positive and exciting start!

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