EDITOR'S NOTE: Following is Part 1 of a long Q&A with Joshua Wynne, UND's interim president, published in Sunday's print edition of the Herald. Today, the Herald is publishing the piece online but in smaller pieces:
Interim UND President Joshua Wynne has spent considerable time during his short tenure stressing collaboration, transparency and open dialogue.
He recently told the Herald editorial board that it isn’t meant as an indictment of the previous administration but simply is a goal he has set for himself as he begins what he hopes will be an effective, albeit temporary, job as UND’s chief executive.
“I think all institutions struggle with (collaboration),” Wynne said. “I don’t know that it’s more of a problem here, but I think it’s a way of addressing what may be an issue. … I think we can do better. I like the idea of encouraging debate and encouraging discussion of difficult topics. That is what a university should do.”
Morale has dipped at UND, Wynne acknowledged, but he believes much of it has been related to financial troubles brought on by mandated cuts in funding.
“Faculty and staff have a right to be concerned if their salaries are flat, if we can’t financially reward high performers,” he said. “And if they see their colleagues separated from the university, voluntarily or involuntarily, that’s a traumatic experience.”
Wynne was named interim president on June 16 to fill a vacancy created when the previous president, Mark Kennedy, left to become president of the University of Colorado system. Wynne has been at UND since 2004 and is vice president for health affairs and dean of the medical school.
This summer he is busy making all of the rounds typical for a new president, including interviews with the Herald and meeting with the business community.
Collaboration and openness have been topics at each stop, and he has stressed that the word “interim” doesn’t mean he will be limited by his temporary status.
“One of the important things about being interim president is that interim just refers to the amount of time I may be doing it,” he said. “I intend to act as president. I need to put my approach into play.”
And that approach, he said, will involve plenty of discussion leading up to big decisions.
“I have found over the years that discussing things around the table, where there is real discussion and honest discussion, invariably leads to a better decision than I could have come up with on my own,” Wynne said. “You know the expression, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ When you (consider decisions) in a more inclusive way, you actually learn what you don’t know and I think then can make better decisions.”