Andrew Armacost: UND is developing its blueprint for the future
This article was written for the Herald's Greater Grand Forks Community section, which was published in the Herald's Aug. 27 print edition.
It’s that wonderful time of year when we welcome our students back to the University of North Dakota. The campus and community will soon come alive with renewed excitement and activity. From athletic events to plays to musical entertainment and academic pursuits in classrooms and in research labs, the start of the fall semester signals an infusion of energy into UND and Grand Forks. The strong relationship between the university and the community is something we cherish and must continue to grow.
If you haven’t driven down University Avenue through the UND campus recently, we welcome you to do so. Over the past few years – while much of Grand Forks and UND were slowed by the COVID pandemic – remarkable changes have taken place.
These changes have been the result of the hard work of thousands of tradespeople and engineers, nearly 95% of whom come from the Grand Forks region. What you see on our campus is the direct result of their talent and commitment.
University Avenue itself has been improved, both physically and visually. The road through campus has been beautifully landscaped with majestic new and newly renovated buildings along the way. These include the new Memorial Union, the renovated Chester Fritz Library, the Gershman Graduate Center and the Nistler School of Business & Public Administration.
What’s yet to come is equally as important. A drive on University Avenue through the west end of campus reveals new residence halls under construction, the result of the successful public/private partnerships and state and local support.
Work has begun on replacing Memorial Stadium with Memorial Village, which will house apartments on the upper floors and our athletic department offices on the first floor. UND aviation facilities at the Grand Forks International Airport are being revamped to improve safety and efficiency for flight training. Other upcoming projects on campus will assure that UND keeps pace with trends in technology and education.
For the second year in a row, I was honored to accept a national award recognizing UND for its commitment to the city of Grand Forks, the state of North Dakota and student success. The university received the Award for Institutional Transformation from the American Council on Education and Fidelity Investments.
It was also a wonderful opportunity to talk about programs, such as InternGF and Accelerate to Industry (A2i), which provide UND students with firsthand experience and local businesses and government agencies with a pool of enthusiastic, skilled and educated workers.
Our university is developing its blueprint for the future, a plan showing a path forward, enabling UND to be responsive to the changing needs of our community, our state and our nation. From the airline pilot shortage to cybersecurity concerns to tackling healthcare issues in our rural and Indigenous communities to countering threats in space, UND must be prepared to provide leaders with the skills and ability to take on everchanging challenges, a well-trained and educated workforce, and the capacity to help generate new technologies and industries for the State of North Dakota.
This blueprint is being developed in our new strategic plan. Last February, we began a process that sought ideas and input from faculty, staff and students from all across campus about the university’s future.
Next month, we’ll begin to unveil the plan that describes the vision of where UND will be heading and how we’ll get there. Our partnerships and collaborations with the Greater Grand Forks community, the citizens and leaders of North Dakota, local military officials, and the wisdom and generosity of our university alumni will play key parts in helping this vision become a reality.
Although the pandemic appears to have abated, we continue to monitor the situation for the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff and residents of the community. I am confident that UND has not only weathered the worst of the COVID storm, but has also emerged stronger, more resilient, more capable and better positioned than ever to play a strategic role in shaping the future of our community and our state.
Thank you for your help and your continued support.
Andrew Armacost is president of the University of North Dakota.