The State Board of Higher Education voted to allow UND to tear down Memorial Stadium.

The item was a part of the board’s consent agenda, so no discussion was had on the matter during the meeting. The full board decision comes a few days after its budget and finance committee voted 3-0 in favor of the decision.

The university has reported that Memorial Stadium requires more than $8 million in upgrades and has had other issues in recent years. UND estimates that it will save $200,000 annually by no longer operating the building. In addition, UND says it can potentially generate new ground lease revenue.

During the board’s budget and finance committee meeting last week, board member Casey Ryan cautioned UND officials to be prepared for the potential community reaction to the decision. UND President Andrew Armacost said, during a recent Herald editorial board meeting, that he had heard from two people in recent months about the decision to tear down the stadium.

UND interim President Joshua Wynne is down to his final days at the head of UND. He held the role for a year, during tumultuous times on campus. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
UND interim President Joshua Wynne is down to his final days at the head of UND. He held the role for a year, during tumultuous times on campus. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

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The state board also recognized former interim UND President Joshua Wynne for his work on campus over the past year. Wynne stepped in as interim president after the departure of former UND President Mark Kennedy in spring 2019. Wynne served as president of the university for nearly a year and helped lead the campus through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He did so while also serving as dean of the UND medical school.

He is now serving as the state’s health strategist and is leading the North Dakota University System’s smart restart task force.

“You were someone that was deeply trusted and had those leadership abilities (when a leader was needed on campus),” board chair Nick Hacker said. “You went above and beyond as interim president and during COVID-19. You consistently kept your campus and the board knowledgeable on how to navigate the situation in which none of us had ever been faced with before.”

Wynne was “virtually” presented a plaque to honor his service.

The board also gave the university approval to begin construction on the new Nistler business college building, which will be built between the Chester Fritz Library and Gamble Hall.

The approval was requested so the university could move forward with the bonding process for the building.

Werner and Colleen Nistler have donated the lead gift of $20 million toward the construction of the new building, which is estimated to cost $70 million. The North Dakota Legislature during the last session voted to match the Nistlers' $20 million donation.