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OUR OPINION: UND's bright future

You're putting your address into an online form. You click on the little dropdown menu that lists the names of the states.

And there it is: Right there on the list with CA, NY, TX, FL and the others, you see the initials ND.

North Dakota. Only 740,000 people, but a full-fledged United State, an equal with the likes of California (pop. 39 million), Texas (27 million) and New York (20 million) in the structure of the greatest country on Earth.

No wonder clicking on the state name can spark a thrill of pride. Because the 50 members of the United States outshine the U.S. Senate as the world's most exclusive club. Most Americans are deeply grateful for their luck in being born in this country, and most North Dakotans (like most Minnesotans, South Dakotans and Montanans) never forget their good fortune that their largely rural corner of the world is in fact an American state.

Now, here's another truth:

Just as there are only 50 states, so, too, are there only a limited number of classical public universities in America, as distinguished from (in general) the nation's exceptional land-grant schools.

These classical public universities include the University of Washington, University of Oregon, University of Texas, University of Connecticut, Indiana University ...

And the University of North Dakota. That puts UND in terrifically good company, for the classical public universities are a key component of America's higher education system. And that system, of course, is itself considered the absolute best on Earth.

On the occasion of inaugurating a new UND president, it's worth remembering that having UND in Grand Forks is a very big deal. That's obvious to every valley resident, given the university's enormous economic impact.

But there's an even bigger context, which is that UND is an operational asset that's worldwide in scope. UND sports teams compete on the national stage. But UND as an institution goes one better: It competes in a global arena.

And as a member of the exclusive Classical Public Universities Club whose schools distinguish America's 50 states, UND—as President Mark Kennedy declares—is positioned to win.

-- Tom Dennis for the Herald