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UND touts gameday updgrades

Andrew Haffner

UND football notched a less successful season on the field this year compared to last, but the real gameday action might start in the Alerus Center parking lot.

This season was the first to debut a series of changes put together by a university committee looking to fine-tune the Fighting Hawk football experience into something with a little more pop.

Looking back, UND President Mark Kennedy is happy with what he saw.

"I view this as a big win," Kennedy said. He listed items such as more energetic tailgating outside the stadium and a more impressive array of choreographed sound and lighting effects within as some of the clear improvements over last season. And if fans were having more fun on football Saturdays, Kennedy said the recent installation of Wi-Fi at the Alerus Center helped them broadcast it to their friends via social media.

The facilities improvements were only one piece of the gameday equation. Along with the more robust tailgating, the committee also spearheaded the adoption of some brand-new "traditions," such as the third-down routine of waving a green Hawks towel.

Kennedy said he really liked that one.

"I think there was much more of an impact, especially with those third down moments, where fans were the 12th man on the field," he said.

As far as Kennedy's concerned, this year's gameday experience showed significant progress toward his goal of boosting the profile of UND football. But he added that he intends to carry out the gameday initiative as a three-year effort and believes there are still real gains to be made over the next two years.

Ocean lecture planned

Back in the classroom, the university's faculty lecture series is rolling on to a very different kind of experience. UND professor Xiaodong Zhang, an oceanography expert in the Department of Earth System Science and Policy, will be taking the torch as the series' next speaker to deliver a presentation on a topic not-so-near but possibly very dear to North Dakotans— the ocean. And, specifically, why it's colored the way it is.

The landlocked oceanographer Zhang will be speaking on the various factors that give the ocean its striking shades of blue. He'll be starting his presentation at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the North Dakota Museum of Art. A half-hour social will immediately precede the event, which is free and open to the public.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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