New UND president hosts first 'Coffee with Kennedy'
New UND President Mark Kennedy set a simple goal for his first 90 days in office — to listen.
That listening, he said, will help him get input from people around the community and around the state as to which direction to take UND.
Kennedy began that listening process Thursday with his first "Coffee with Kennedy" event, which was hosted in the Grand Forks Herald's Community Room. The event is meant to emulate starting a casual conversation with somebody in a coffee shop.
Dozens of people, both young and old, attended, giving Kennedy a chance to meet members of the community, hear people's ideas and even play a game of foosball with some youngsters.
"I want to get input and insight so that I'm not making decisions inadvertently or priorities that don't take into account all of the other ways we could collaborate," he said. "So collaboration is not just throughout the university but between the university and the city and the county and the economic development and the broader region."
Kennedy describes himself as a "collaborative leader," and said he wants people from around the state to be engaged in how to move UND forward.
After listening during his first 90 days, Kennedy said he wants to begin strategic thinking, so when the legislative sessions begins, he has the framework and input of the broader UND community.
By the end of his first year, he hopes to wrap up an agreement on a strategic direction, which Kennedy said he hopes will include about five metrics as to what it means to be the premier flagship university in the region and about three specific areas of research where UND is going to have a meaningful impact on the state and its citizens.
"I might have ideas as to what those five and three are, but I think we need to get a broader input on that," he said in a previous interview with the Herald.
During Thursday's event, Kennedy said he learned about issues in Grand Forks that he hadn't previously given much thought to, such as the city's new library, coordination between police forces for UND and Grand Forks, and public art around town.
"Today was about connecting with people," he said. "These are things I don't know about if I don't listen."
Kennedy said he hopes to have "Coffee with Kennedy" events around the state, as well as hosting "Pancakes with the President" for the UND community at the President's Residence.
Kennedy, a former business executive and U.S. Congressman, took over as the 12th president of UND last Friday, succeeding Robert Kelley who retired Jan. 14 and Ed Schafer, who served as interim president.