UND's purpose has always been rooted in education and research, but the university will soon have a new means of expressing that.

A campus committee is now working through the process of writing a new mission statement for UND with the goal of reflecting the school's overarching strategic plan, a five-year document released last spring. According to a UND press release, the four-person committee, which was formed by university President Mark Kennedy, settled on an as-yet unreleased draft of the new statement earlier this month.

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The university's current mission statement was written in 1991, the release said. That existing statement is nine sentences long and begins with a sentiment that UND, as a member of the North Dakota University System, serves "serves the state, the country and the world community through teaching, research, creative activities and service."

The rest of the statement highlights sources of university funding, pledges the school to contributing to the "public well-being" and connects the university to a goal of discovering and disseminating knowledge. The statement also outlines the university's various academic missions, such as liberal arts and business, as well as its responsibility to student development and continuing education and service for the state as a whole.

The committee writing the new mission statement is made up of UND Student Body President Cole Bachmeier, director of multicultural programs and services Stacey Borboa-Peterson, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of history James Mochoruk and University Senate Chair Nancy Vogeltanz-Holm. The university release said the group members have written a shorter copy than the existing version that captures the UND areas of education, discovery and community service. Their draft will be presented at meetings of the University Senate, Staff Senate and Student Senate on Jan. 10-11 for final discussion and approval.

Elsewhere at UND, a group of 15 aviation students have been chosen for a mission of their own. A separate UND news release announced earlier this month a set of sophomores and juniors were selected for a newly created pathway program launched by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. The university release stated the 15 students will begin training-after passing background checks and finishing their UND degrees-as "airborne law enforcement officers" for the Border Patrol.

Back on the ground, UND recently secured yet another link to federal programs with a science research grant worth nearly $210,000. Project leader Jyotika Sharma, an associate professor in the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, secured the funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for a project expected to last until late 2019.

Sharma's research targets the processes related to inflammation and cell function in cases of bacterial illnesses, such as pneumonia and other chronic lung diseases.