UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

‘Wake Up to UND’ showcases Nistler, Strategic Plan, technology and partnerships

Nearly 400 guests fill UND Memorial Union Ballroom for ‘The Morning Show’

The laughter inside the UND Memorial Union Ballroom early Tuesday was all the real deal — no laugh track needed — for the livestream taping of “Wake Up to UND: The Morning Show.”

Nearly 400 guests were part of the “live studio audience” for the sold-out breakfast celebrating UND’s success stories and collaborative partnerships with the Greater Grand Forks community and Grand Forks Air Force Base. Thousands more online watched the annual event, which is hosted by the University and The Chamber of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks.

Following last year’s successful “Wake Up to UND,” which mimicked a late-night talk show, this year’s program used a morning news show format featuring UND President Andy Armacost and Student Body President Faith Wahl behind the anchor desk.

Against a bright-green backdrop of banners showing beautiful images of UND’s Eternal Flame, the Adelphi Fountain and the new Memorial Union, Armacost opened the program by saying, “We’ve got a great show lined up for you today!”

Ahead would be segments on UND’s Strategic Plan, the new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration and a cooperative partnership agreement between UND and the airbase, as well as the competitive world of drone racing.

Some of the highlights …

Blake Rafferty, a UND atmospheric science student who’s also a TV meteorologist, gives the weather forecast for the day and for Homecoming week. Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

First up, the weather. UND junior and meteorologist-in-training Blake Rafferty took the stage to share the seven-day Grand Forks weather outlook.

“I do weekend weather for KVRR in Fargo every other weekend, but this was definitely something different,” Rafferty told UND Today after the event. “I’ve done the forecast in front of the production crew at the station, but I’ve never done it in front of hundreds of people. And we did just one run-through yesterday.”

Even so, the blooper-free Rafferty looked less like a student and more like a well-seasoned pro. And it probably didn’t hurt his ratings any that he called for sunny skies and highs in the 70s for Homecoming weekend.

The Strategic Plan. As co-chairs of the planning process, Lynette Krenelka, executive director of the Teaching Transformation & Development Academy, and Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of History Jim Mochoruk reported there has been an overwhelming response.

“We have received input from so many different individuals and groups,” Krenelka said. “It has been really a wonderful process. If you count the number of individuals who have been in the working groups, it’s 200 people, so that’s pretty extensive. I feel like we have included so many voices in this plan. It really is going to be a plan of the people of the University of North Dakota and beyond.”

Added Mochoruk: “We hope this is going to be truly a living document with a lot of great ideas that can keep rising up from within the framework of the work we’ve already done. The purpose of the document is going to be to help UND to move forward so people will know what we want to achieve, where we’re going and, perhaps, ways to get there.”

Keeping with a morning news show format, UND Student Body President Faith Wahl (right) interviews Amy Henley, dean of the Nistler School of Business & Public Administration, about features of the school’s new building opened for the fall semester. Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

A montage of the Nistler: Guests were treated to a montage of images showcasing UND’s brand-new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration, along with a live interview with Dean Amy Henley.

Henley shared that UND long has been recognized for its student success inside and outside the classroom.

“It’s so special to have such a strong relationship with our community. We’re proud to say Mayor (Brandon) Bochenski is one of our Economics grads, but we also have many other partners. I think one of the most demonstrative examples is where the city invested $1.3 million into Nistler Hall. We’re so proud to have the Grand Forks Workforce Development Center in that student-facing area right on the first floor.”

“Students from all across campus can come by and see what the opportunities are with the city of Grand Forks and with different organizations within the city,” she added.

UND President Andy Armacost (right) discusses the University’s recent Grand Forks Air Force Base partnership agreement with Will Semke (left), associate dean for the College of Engineering & Mines, and Lt. Col. Mike Dunn, director of the GFAFB North Spark Defense Laboratory. Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

Working hand in hand with GFAFB. Lt. Col. Mike Dunn, director of Grand Forks Air Force Base’s North Spark Defense Laboratory, and William Semke, associate dean for academic affairs at UND’s College of Engineering & Mines, shared just some of the ways the University and Grand Forks Air Force Base are working together to accomplish goals.

“It’s a great opportunity to solidify and make permanent an agreement to work on projects of mutual interest,” Semke said. “It gives us an infinite structure that’s going to last past different commands and a maze of different generations of faculty and students.”

Already, airmen are practicing how to paint Global Hawks — a surprisingly challenging task — by using a virtual reality system. The goggles go on, and they make all the right moves without making a mess.

UND student Jerry Fuller, a member of the University’s drone club and a researcher with the Research Institute for Autonomous Systems, demonstrates flying a small drone for President Armacost and guests in attendance. Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

A whoops with a little Whoops. President Armacost also got the chance to fly a miniature drone called a Whoops above the crowd, but not before UND student Jerry Fuller, a member of the UAS Remote Control Club, asked: “Have you ever flown one of these things?”

“Yesterday … and I crashed twice,” the president answered to laughter from the crowd.

Eventually, Armacost successfully proved he had the steering down, maneuvering the drone full circle in 90-degree turns. As for the landing … let’s just say that’ll take more practice.