UND’s student body president is excited that medical school Dean Joshua Wynne has been named interim president.
Wynne was unanimously selected Thursday by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to lead the university on an interim basis. He has been dean at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences for nearly 10 years.
“I really like that (Wynne) has roots in the university already and has been here for a while. He really knows the campus and the community,” said Gracie Lian, UND student body president.
Lian believes Wynne will do well in the position based on his work at the UND medical school and his relationship with legislators in Bismarck.
“I think that he’s really helped push the medical school forward,” she said. “He helped build the new medical school building and has worked with the Legislature in different areas. While it’s not a legislative year next year, I think his history shows a strong background in strategic planning and moving a college forward.”
Lian noted there is a lot happening on campus: buildings are coming down and new ones are going up, along with other changes. Lian said Wynne’s history with strategic planning at the med school “bodes well for the rest of campus.”
Eric Murphy, a faculty member who works in the UND medical school and was on the board when Kennedy was appointed president in 2016, previously told the Herald it may be a challenge for the dean of the medical school to engage with the rest of campus, noting it will require a high level of engagement from Wynne in order to succeed.
Lian said she believes Wynne will do well in the interim president’s position and noted Wynne will have “strong” individuals within the UND administration to help him along the way.
“I think as he translates into a larger scale at UND, he’ll have a lot of great people working with him along the way,” she said.
Lian said the State Board of Higher Education had “two really great candidates” to choose from and added she is happy both will be involved with the campus going forward.
Denny Elbert, the other finalist, was named co-chairman of the presidential search committee alongside board member Casey Ryan. Elbert was the dean of the UND business school from 1997 to 2014. He also has served on many executive boards throughout the state over the past two decades.
The committee in charge of the search will be smaller than typical presidential searches.
Nick Hacker, State Board of Higher Education vice chairman, made a motion during Thursday’s meeting to limit the number of committee members to 11. The motion also will allow the search committee to engage a recruiting firm. Limiting the number of committee members will be a deviation from board procedure, Hacker said, but is meant to streamline the process.
The committee will still seek input from faculty, staff and students, he said.
“I think it will help chart a course forward for us to have an efficient search and one that would be in the best interest of the University of North Dakota for the long-term,” Hacker said during Thursday’s meeting.
North Dakota University System procedure states that one undergraduate and one graduate student should be on the committee in a common presidential search. Variations from the procedure are allowed upon the written approval of the chancellor.
Lian is not concerned with the size of the committee, so long as students have a voice on it.
“As long as they are still listening to the input from faculty members on campus, from students and the community, I think that (the committee) can be good stewards of the voice and what we’re looking for at UND,” she said.