Wake up to UND

Members of the Greater Grand Forks community gathered Tuesday morning at “Wake Up to UND” to listen to President Mark Kennedy speak about his plans for the university.

The event, which was sponsored by the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, was at record capacity. After a performance by the UND Varsity Gentleman, Kennedy took the stage to discuss his vision for UND and its role in the state. Kennedy spoke on his desire to build UND into a flagship university in the state, mentioning key metrics the university is tracking in regards to teaching, research and service. “As a liberal arts institution we want to make sure they the kind of liberal arts base that allows them to just be prepared for their first job but a life time of jobs,” Kennedy said, “Because with technology changing things as much as it is, we know that most of our things won’t just be on one career path, but many.” In addition to teaching, Kennedy touched on improving the research capacities of UND. Doctoral research universities in the United States are classified as R1, R2 or R3 universities in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education depending on their level of research activity, with R1 being the highest distinction. “There are 115 R1 universities in the country; I for one think North Dakota should have one those,” Kennedy said. Currently both UND and NDSU are classified as R2 research universities. Kennedy spoke of the benefits that come with developing UND as a research university, including the movement of companies nearby who will be able to hire graduates and promote regional economic development. He cited General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Northrop Grumman as examples of companies that came to Grand Forks because of the work UND has done to make itself a leader in UAS technology. Throughout the speech, Kennedy spoke about the importance of collaborative decision making and how it will change the future of the region. “The whole goal of this process is to get all of these diverse ideas to get the whole town together towards a common vision towards the future,” Kennedy said. “That’s truly where we as One UND make the most impact and create the most opportunity.” Branding with the oftentimes heated process of selecting the new Fighting Hawks nickname and logo last year, Kennedy stressed that it was important the university work to establish its brand as it continues to move forward. He said UND would transition away from the interlocking “ND” logo to the Fighting Hawks logo as the year goes on. Kennedy acknowledged that the University must work to address the deferred maintenance around campus. This cost approximately over $500 M over the next ten years, and with oil prices down, the state’s and subsequently the university’s budget could potentially continue to tighten over the coming years. While the university has brand new medical and law school, many buildings around campus are no longer being utilized to their fullest extent and will require replacement or major renovation. Using Stanford and Harvard as examples, he spoke about how working on the distinct architectural style of the university will give it it’s own unique identity. He mentioned some of the on campus housing will need to be improved as the university works to boost that “The 1950’s called, they want their housing back,” Kennedy joked about some of the older housing units on campus.

During his speech, Kennedy addressed the ongoing process of reforming the athletics budget. During budget cuts stemming from reduced state appropriations last year, there were some contentious reactions to the university’s decision to cut the men’s golf and baseball teams, although golf has since been reinstated. “I’m confident that with the right amount of focus on the teams we can support on the championship level, we can have championship teams,” Kennedy said. Kennedy noted that 11 of UND’s athletic teams do not utilize the maximum amount of scholarships allowed, putting them on a competitive disadvantage against teams that have rosters with more scholarship athletes. Additionally, UND has more athletic teams than universities of similar size and budget, stretching dollars to more athletes, facilities and staff. A committee comprised of various stakeholders from the university will make a recommendation about the athletics budget to Kennedy by November 1.


As part of his efforts to listen to the concerns of the student body, Kennedy said he has been frequenting the Wilkerson Dining Hall and attending UND sporting events, including the football team’s recent hard fought victory over the University of South Dakota in the Potato Bowl this past weekend. “Every student I talked to about it told me they stayed until the end,” Kennedy said about the game, which had a closely contested fourth quarter. Kennedy and his wife Debbie, who took their children on trips to North Dakota in the past and both have family ties to the state, have been traveling in order to get feedback from alumni and other community leaders about the future of the university. Last week was spent in smaller towns in eastern North Dakota, and they will be on the road in the western part of the state through the end of the week.

Sean Cleary is a copy editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]