Letters to Members of the UND Community
First Day Letter
June 1, 2020
It is with great pride and excitement that I step into the role as the 13th President of the University of North Dakota. Since last December, when the State Board of Higher Education announced their decision, Kathy and I have been eager to become part of the campus and the local area. This day has finally arrived – though it is a “virtual arrival” for now – and the final transition from President Wynne has happened. We plan to arrive physically in Grand Forks the week of June 22, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic delayed our move and keeps us in Colorado a bit longer.
I must start by thanking Josh Wynne for his leadership and enthusiasm as our president for the last year. His passion for the people of UND is unmatched. As a fitting end to his tenure, President Wynne was awarded the Gordon Henry Award by our Student Government, recognizing one who has gone above and beyond in their service to the student body. On a personal level, Josh and Susan have been incredibly welcoming to us, and I will cherish the mentorship and advice he has given me over the last five months.
On this first day as President, I’m filled with sadness at the recent tragedies in our own community and in our neighboring state of Minnesota. On Tuesday, we will honor the life and sacrifice of Officer Cody Holte of the Grand Forks Police Department, whose tragic death last week came in the line of duty. His wife, Amanda, is a recent UND graduate, and our hearts go out to her and the Holte family. Earlier in the week, we watched in horror at the senseless and racially unjust death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We grieve with Mr. Floyd’s family and with our students who call Minneapolis and St. Paul home. Both events impact us deeply and highlight the continuing need to uphold the values of diversity, inclusion, and equity to build a just community. I pledge my commitment to open dialogue and action on the toughest issues we face as a nation and state for the benefit of all members of our community.
We also face the ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus. In response to the pandemic, I have had the chance to work closely with President Wynne, our Executive Council, and other campus leaders to develop plans for our response. Let me assure you that this team is focused on your health and safety, on delivering programs rooted in excellence, and on sustaining a strong sense of community across our campus. We will soon release our plan for our UND Smart Restart and the return of campus activity for the fall semester.
Over the last four months, the professionalism and optimism I have seen across our campus community convince me that we will overcome challenges together and come out stronger on the other side. Your character, commitment, and spirit are the reasons I am excited to join the UND team. I am honored to serve as your President. Together, we are One UND.
President’s Reading List
These are many books that have impacted the way I view the world and our role as educators. Some authors share perspectives that I had not heard, but that changed me in some important way. I encourage you to continue reading works that offer different views of the world and expose you to knowledge and ideas that might be outside your normal area of study.
- The Innovators, Walter Isaacson
- Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman + The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis
- Whistling Vivaldi, Claude Steele
- The One World School House, Salman Khan
- What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain
- Mindset, Carol Dweck
- Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
- The Indigenous People’s History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (recommended to me by UND Professor Beth Klemetsrud)