Andrew Armacost is finally seeing green.
The new UND president and his wife, first lady Kathy Armacost, spent Monday morning moving into their new home on the UND campus.
It was the first time Armacost, who officially took office on June 1, had been on campus when there wasn’t snow on the ground.
“It's totally weird because the last time I was here, there was no green,” he said, standing in the president’s home on UND’s campus Monday, June 22. “It was kind of an interesting change to come in and see just beautiful greenery and trees that are in bloom, flowers that were blooming. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Armacost’s first visit to campus was in November, when he spent two days speaking with faculty, staff, students and the community about his vision for the university. He returned again in December to interview with the State Board of Higher Education, where he was appointed to the presidency. He also visited campus several times in the spring semester before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered campus and left everyone, including Armacost, working remotely.
“We just had to be patient and know that we would eventually get here,” he said.
This weekend, the Armacosts, along with their cockapoo Sadie, traveled nearly 1,000 miles from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Grand Forks. They arrived in Grand Forks Sunday evening.
Though former interim President Joshua Wynne was leading the campus at the time, Armacost was a major part of the campus decision-making process throughout the COVID-19 response and continued meeting with various groups of the campus community virtually.
Higher ed leaders in the state have pointed to the presidents’ transition plan as a reason for the seemingly smooth leadership transfer on campus.
“We (the state board) were just enthused by the availability and ability of both Armacost and Wynne to be able to have a smooth transition,” board chair Nick Hacker told the Herald in a phone interview last month. “With that structure, it really benefited the institution, even though it had to respond so quickly to the pandemic.”
Armacost said, though he is now on campus, some of that teleconnection will continue as much of the campus is working remotely through the end of July. Being able to connect with people, even virtually, will help with his transition to the president’s role, he said.
Armacost said he and Kathy are excited to be a part of the center of action on campus. He added they look forward to when students arrive in the coming weeks.
“There's something special … about being on a college campus and just the activity and just all the hustle bustle of what it means to be a young college student,” he said. “Although I'm not a young college student, just being around it can be a lot of fun."