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ROBERT KELLEY: Get ready for a terrific year at UND

Robert Kelley

Welcome to the 2014 fall semester! This promises to be an exciting start to the new academic year at UND, one filled with progress and positive change.

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The campus and the community explode with the vitality of thousands of new and returning students and hundreds of new and returning faculty members. We all feel the energy and vibrancy, the collective anticipation as students and faculty begin another year of educational journey and discovery.

I invite Herald readers to join me and the rest of the campus in welcoming them all to our nationally recognized Greater Grand Forks community, which we are proud to call the home of UND.

I am proud of our strong and committed faculty. Every year I have the privilege of leading new faculty and administrators on a three-day bus tour of their new state, and every year I am impressed by the caliber of the people we are able to recruit to UND.

It speaks volumes about the reputation of the university and the quality of our faculty, students, staff, programs and facilities.

We will have many bright hew undergraduate, graduate and professional students this fall. Welcome to you, and welcome back to our thousands of returning students.

Among the new faces on campus are two new deans — Margaret Williams for the College of Business and Public Administration and Gayle Roux for the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines — and our first associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, Sandra Mitchell.

I invite Herald readers to join me in welcoming these three outstanding leaders.

In addition, two familiar faces have taken on new roles: Barry Milavetz is currently serving as interim vice president for research and economic development, and Tom Erickson is serving as interim director of the Energy and Environmental Research Center.

The campus is transformed by our students and faculty, but there are other transformations going on, as well — physical changes that have taken place over the summer, with more to come this fall.

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences project on the corner of Gateway Drive and Columbia Road is progressing nicely and should be ready for the fall of 2016. The School of Law addition and renovation also is in process and should be completed by the fall of 2015.

On the east side of campus, the UND Athletics High-Performance Center is rising out of the ground. Speaking of athletics, I’m looking forward to another great year. I hope UND fans will join me on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Alerus Center for the Potato Bowl, the first home football game under the leadership of Coach Bubba Sweigert. Join us and “Stand Up and Cheer!”

Several other major construction projects focus directly on student life. The Wilkerson Dining Center is undergoing a major addition and renovation that will make it the premier collegiate dining facility in the region. And the Memorial Union also is seeing changes, including the creation of the One Stop Student Services center, which will open in late September or early October.

The University Federal Credit Union graciously agreed to move to the lower level so that we could establish in that space an all-in-one destination where students can get access to services and answers to questions without having to walk to Twamley Hall.

We believe this will herald a new era in being responsive to students and will put an end to what has been known for decades as “The Twamley Shuffle.”

To the Greater Grand Forks community, the sister cities on both sides of the Red River of the North, the Grand Forks Air Force Base, and our surrounding communities in Grand Forks and Polk counties and beyond: Thanks for the many partnerships that help make us an internationally recognized premier university in North Dakota. We look forward to another great year of partnering.

I hope community members will embrace the new year by helping us welcome UND’s students and faculty and by taking advantage of all of the wonderful opportunities available through the university this year.

Kelley is the president of UND.