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Officials celebrate UND med school construction

Legislators and higher education officials gathered near the Ralph Engelstad Arena Thursday and tossed a shovelful of dirt for the official groundbreaking of UND's new School of Medicine and Health Sciences.1 / 5
UND President Robert Kelley thanked legislators for making UND's new School of Medicine and Health Science a reality. Classes are slated to start at the new facility during the summer of 2016. Photo by Anna Burleson/Grand Forks Herald 2 / 5
Submitted rendering of completed med-school3 / 5
Submitted rendering of completed med-school4 / 5
Submitted rendering of completed med-school5 / 5

For workers driving dump trucks and front loaders in Grand Forks’ north end, it was just another day working on UND’s new School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Nearby, about 50 legislators and higher education officials gathered nearby for an official groundbreaking ceremony for the $122 million facility at the corner of North Columbia Road and Gateway Drive.

“This is an exciting and critical time in the history of the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences,” said UND President Bob Kelley. “This new building will be a significant factor in our ability to help educate the health care workforce necessary for the health and vibrancy of North Dakota’s growing population.”

The facility will incorporate all of the medical school’s departments, some of which have had to be housed in separate locations on campus for lack of space at the school’s current building.

The new building was funded for the most part by an allocation from the 2013 legislative session to help deal with a shortage of healthcare professionals in the state.

“This groundbreaking is not a UND event, it is an event for the entire state of North Dakota,” Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said to the crowd.

Rick Tonder, the director of facilities planning for the North Dakota University System, sat toward the back of the crowd with a smile on his face. He has been highly involved in the project and said it was nice to see it progressing.

“What I’m really looking forward to is that first graduating class,” he said.

Med school Dean Joshua Wynne said the beginning stages of site preparation are completed and that the project is on time and on budget. The first foundation has been poured and the next step in construction will include drilling an elevator shaft.

On the Web: Live video of construction can be viewed at

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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