A large crowd listened Tuesday morning as Joshua Wynne, interim president of UND, and others spoke about all that’s good at the local university.
The annual event – dubbed “Wake Up to UND” – this year was held at the Alerus Center. The location was a change of pace, brought on by just one piece of good news at UND: The construction of a new Student Union, where the “Wake Up” event has been held in the past.
Along with Wynne, various vice presidents and university leaders spoke.
A few notable tidbits:
● Vice President for Finance and Operations Jed Shivers reported that UND is in the midst of $350 million in campus upgrades. He outlined ongoing projects to improve the Memorial Union, University Avenue, the campus steam-heating system, Ray Richards Golf Course and the Gershman Engagement Center. Other projects hopefully are on the way, including the much-needed second phase of the High Performance Center.
● Vice President for Marketing and Communications Meloney Linder discussed the past year’s media “mentions,” of which there were more than 4,800 nationwide. Since she arrived on campus a year ago, Linder has worked to get more university experts quoted in the news media; she also noted that in an annual survey, UND has improved in 32 of 36 PR-related categories.
Notably, she also has tracked how UND is covered in the media. Of those 4,800 media mentions over the past year, only 6 percent could be construed as negative, while the remainder were either neutral or positive.
● DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, recapped what was a stunning year for giving at the university: 9,016 donors accounted for $67.7 million in gifts. It’s $18 million more than any year on record. It was aided by a $20 million anonymous gift for the College of Business and Public Administration.
Everyone – or at least it seemed everyone – heaped thanks on the state Legislature, which provided funding for various initiatives. Carlson Zink, for instance, recapped the Legislature’s decision to fund the North Dakota State Challenge Fund.
And the crowd – the second largest in the event’s history – was impressive.
Wynne opened the event, gave way to the various speakers and video clips, and then returned to the stage for the closing comments.
He referenced some tough times at UND in the past, but he put a ribbon on the event with an upbeat message.
“It’s important to acknowledge that UND has come through some difficult times. It’s important that from this, we learn to better anticipate events and be proactive as we work together to move your university forward. We will be defined by our hard work and our perseverance and not our past,” Wynne said. “As you heard this morning, there are many exciting, significant and positive developments occurring at the University of North Dakota. The most important message is that it will take all of us working together.”
Yes, with $350 million in physical upgrades, 4,800 mentions in the media and a record year for donations, good things are happening on campus.