For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: M.D. Commencement is here!

What an exciting time of year! Tonight we will hold the Commencement Awards Banquet for the members of the medical student Class of 2024, and tomorrow we’ll award M.D. degrees to 65 highly qualified and highly motivated new doctors. Similar commencement events will take place a week from tomorrow when our graduating health sciences and other graduate students are awarded their degrees during UND’s graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies. A variety of other events, including academic hooding ceremonies, also will be taking place. Here again is a list of all the scheduled events surrounding commencement.

Another exciting event taking place today is the conclusion of the spring meeting of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation (UNDAAF) Board of Directors (I’m an ex officio member). Yesterday was the first day of the two-day meeting, and deans of all the UND schools and colleges had an opportunity to brief the UNDAAF board members on their visions for their unit and how the UNDAAF might help them reach their goals. My presentation on behalf of the SMHS seemed to go quite well, and I re-emphasized our number one priority of continuing to grow the scholarship support we provide our students in an effort to limit their cumulative educational debt. As you know, we’ve been quite successful in this effort, thanks to the amazing generosity of our donors. Our second philanthropic priority is to develop more endowed faculty positions so that we can continue to recruit and retain the best and the brightest faculty members in what has become an exceedingly competitive market for human capital, as I’ve discussed here before.

But, as we all know, life is a balance – a balance of positive and negatives, of good and bad, and of wins and losses. The great success of our graduating seniors is balanced by the world situation to be sure, but also by events closer to home. For example, this past Wednesday, I joined almost 800 others at the Alerus Center for a breakfast sponsored by the Community Violence Intervention Center (CVIC), a local organization that assists victims of domestic violence. Susan and I have been surprised that domestic violence is an issue in Grand Forks, but it is – as it is virtually everywhere. We’re just so glad that we have local organizations like CVIC that are addressing this challenge in a positive way.

Another upcoming event that is somewhat bittersweet is a planned celebration of the life and contributions of the late Judy DeMers, the long-time former Associate Dean of Students and Admissions at the School. Judy’s son Bob and her treasured grandson Tyler and their family and friends will be at the SMHS on Tuesday, May 21, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. on the second floor of our Grand Forks building for the Judy DeMers Memorial Open House. Please stop by to say hello, get to know Judy’s family, and share the many memories we have of this remarkable woman. I last saw Judy in January at a UND Hawks hockey game, and although it was clear that she was far from her former self, she still cheered on her Hawks as she had done for decades. Sadly, she passed away shortly thereafter.

The cycle of life thus goes on. Sadness that we have domestic violence in Grand Forks, but gratitude that there are organizations like CVIC – and generous donors who support it – to address (and hopefully prevent) that destructive behavior. And sadness that Judy has passed on, but gratitude for her impact on a generation of students, as well as for her generosity in giving her financial support for student scholarships to reduce their debt burden. I think fondly of Judy every time I walk into or out of our Grand Forks building where we recognize – and remember – her impact with the naming of the Office of Student Affairs and Admissions in her honor.

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