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LETTER: Faculty leaving UND will be sorely missed

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GRAND FORKS — The great UND historian Elwyn Robinson had a term to describe faculty who came to UND for just a few years and then moved on to somewhere else. He said “they were only camping.”

As the academic year comes to an end, an exceptional group of faculty members are decamping to move on to greener pastures or retire.

Whatever their reasons, the state, community and campus will be weaker without them.

Like Robinson’s campers, many of these faculty members accepted salaries at UND that were far lower than their colleagues get elsewhere and also endured periods of exceptional instability in university administration.

Despite these challenges, these faculty members organized poetry readings, took the students and the university’s names around the world, invited artists, musicians and thinkers to Grand Forks’ venues and helped keep local watering holes, shops and restaurants filled with character and energy.

They brought digital innovations to campus, pioneered new fields, fostered collaboration and energized their students and colleagues.

The university will try to put a good face on the departures, and some will invoke Robinson to make themselves feel better about it. But those of us left behind know that the university will not quickly recover the loss of this cohort of faculty.

So, as Herald readers celebrate the arrival of spring, graduations and the sprouting of “For Sale” signs throughout Grand Forks neighborhoods, they should take a moment to wonder about the departure of so many exceptional young faculty — and to wish the departing faculty members well as they bring their energies, talents and passions to other schools and communities.

Bill Caraher

Caraher is an associate professor of history at UND.

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