Wake up to UND highlights 'new faces and new places'
This year's Wake Up to UND event was held in the recently opened Memorial Union, and welcomed more than 360 attendees for breakfast and to hear campus updates. Visitors got more than a meal and speeches though, as the event unfolded like a late night talk show, with UND President Andrew Armacost taking the role of host.
A collaborative Greater Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce and UND event had a new look in a new location on Tuesday, Sept. 28.
The annual Wake Up to UND event typically marks the first month of UND’s school year with a sort of State of the University address. That was not the case this year.
This year's event was held in the recently opened Memorial Union and welcomed more than 360 attendees for breakfast and to hear campus updates. Visitors got more than a meal and speeches though, as the event unfolded like a late-night talk show, with UND President Andrew Armacost playing the role of host.
After a video introduction by Dave Zavoral, chairman of the local Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Armacost launched into his monologue, saying he is thrilled to see people gather in person again. Tuesday marked the first time Wake up to UND was held in person since 2019. It was held virtually in 2020.
Armacost related an amusing anecdote about once being asked to direct UND’s marching band while its members practiced one day. He recalled waving his arms about, and being thrilled that the band was responding. Until he noticed something.
“Something out of the corner of my eye catches my attention, and I look down and there's (UND Pride of the North Band Director Rob Brooks) really directing in the band,” Armacost said. “That's a good metaphor for my life at UND. There are times where we think we're in charge, and really it's the people who work alongside us, who work throughout the university, who make the great things happen.”
The theme of this year’s event was appropriately dubbed “New Faces. New Places,” as the Memorial Union took the spotlight on the latter half of the title. Videos about the remodeled Chester Fritz Library and the recently re-dedicated Gershman Graduate Center , along with the Fighting Hawk mascot, interspersed the event, to showcase changes and improvements on campus.
Attendees, many of them visiting the Memorial Union for the first time, were then introduced to the program’s guest lineup, to meet some “new faces” at UND.
After his monologue, Armacost took a seat at a desk, like a traditional late-night show host, and introduced the morning’s first guest, UND Student Body President Kaelan Reedy. They discussed Reedy’s election to the office, what he is studying and his plans after graduating UND.
“In the political science department we like to take opportunities as they come, and see what comes to us, as opposed to really (planning) forward,” Reedy said as guests laughed.
Reedy was gifted a panda stuffed toy, in light of his love the the Panda Express restaurant, which has opened in the Memorial Union.
Next, Provost Eric Link entered the stage and talked with Armacost about his career and accomplishments, including being a Fullbright scholar to Ukraine and Switzerland. Link related a story of visiting Grand Forks on business in the early spring of 2013, when a blizzard swept through town. While in his hotel room, he read a copy of the Grand Forks Herald to realize the newspaper names blizzards after members of the community.
“It was the fifth named blizzard of that year, and they had named it Eric,” Link said. “The headline of the paper read ‘Eric storms through Grand Forks.’ I knew right then and there that it was destiny that we had to get to Grand Forks.”
The morning’s third and final guest, and rounding out the “New Faces” portion of the event, was Mallory Bernhard, UND’s women’s basketball coach. Bernhard began officially working in that role in March, after being the interim coach in the 2020-2021 season. Bernhard and three players from the women’s basketball team played a version of the game "horse" at a basketball hoop adjacent to the stage, but wound up spelling out UND instead.
And like most late-night talk shows, there was a musical guest. Members of the Pride of the North Band, the band Armacost once believed he was conducting, entertained the audience.
Fred Wittmann, director of ceremonies and UND events, said the idea of a talk show was to give the Wake up to UND event a light-hearted feel. It was meant to create something people could enjoy live, after watching it online last year.
“We spent a lot of time developing the content that would go into that,” said Wittmann. “(It’s) a little different than what would normally happen because instead of a speaker providing content. We've got the content coming through the interviews themselves.”