A year of learning remotely
President Armacost thanks legislators while reflecting on Women’s History month, a year of the pandemic, and more
Whew! It’s been a busy week. Between testifying at the Legislature, participating in online town hall forums, saying goodbye to the old Memorial Stadium, planning for how new COVID vaccination developments will affect UND, and sending students off for spring break, there’s a lot to discuss.
First, I want to call attention to Women’s History Month in March, which began in 1981 as a way to emphasize the contributions of women to our country’s history and to recognize their achievements. It’s also a good time to honor the great women throughout UND’s history, as well as celebrate the amazing women who comprise our Executive Cabinet – the vice presidents, deans, and other campus leaders.
At the University of North Dakota, we often emphasize the Leaders in Action our University produces and the work worth doing they accomplish. Perhaps because six of UND’s first eight graduates were women, the University has a long history of women graduates who have had impacts on the world, impacts that far exceeded their humble beginnings in a small rural state. They proved themselves to be hardworking leaders who rose to prominence in their chosen pursuits.
Shonda Rhimes, a highly successful creator, writer and, television producer, summed it up this way: “Dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”
Dr. Cora Smith Eaton King, a member of UND’s first graduating class of 1889, exemplifies this spirit. She taught at UND and went on to become the first licensed woman physician in North Dakota. Even more importantly, she became a key activist for women in the state and across the nation during the suffrage movement when women fought for the right to vote.
Dr. King paved the way for other UND women. Helen Hamilton graduated from the University’s School of Law in 1905 and became North Dakota’s first woman attorney. The law school continues to honor her legacy with its annual Helen Hamilton Day.
In February during Black History Month, I recounted how Era Bell Thompson grew up in Bismarck, attended UND, and went on to become an author and the editor of Ebony magazine. Other UND women of note include the late Alice T. Clark, UND’s former Vice President for Academic Affairs, who mentored hundreds of faculty members during her long career.
Turning to another subject, we’re about at the one-year anniversary of UND switching to online teaching because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a long, challenging struggle, but I’m happy to report that because of the accelerated Grand Forks vaccination schedule, we can be optimistic about a return to normal for the fall semester.
I want to stress that we’re still not completely out of the woods. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Also, if you’ll be traveling during spring break, continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and engage in physical distancing. Let’s all work to keep the momentum toward normalcy going. Enjoy your break, but please remember to stay safe.
I was honored last Tuesday to participate in the recognition event for Memorial Stadium, scheduled to be replaced by a more modern facility that will better serve UND’s needs through the 21st century. It was wonderful to hear the stories and memories of fans, athletes, and coaches who experienced thrilling victories and (far fewer) agonizing defeats on the track and playing field. We will keep the flame burning to recognize the original intent of Memorial Stadium, which was to honor the 33 UND service members who gave their lives during World War I.
Finally, I was privileged to make a trip to the state Capitol in Bismarck to once again represent UND in the budget discussions that go on every two years when the Legislature is in session. This time, it was before the House Appropriations Committee. The hard work and service being done by our legislators should be acknowledged. It can be a long, tiring grind as our elected leaders do the best they can for their communities and the state. If you see your legislators around town, please express your gratitude for the job they do on your behalf.
With respect and enormous pride in you,