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LETTERS: Ohio dean's humor, enthusiasm could be tonic for UND

On Wednesday, I drove to the Canad Inns in Grand Forks to have lunch with a friend. As I entered the front doors, I met a most distinguished man whom I determined to be one of the six finalists in UND's search for its next president.

On Wednesday, I drove to the Canad Inns in Grand Forks to have lunch with a friend. As I entered the front doors, I met a most distinguished man whom I determined to be one of the six finalists in UND's search for its next president.

When I asked him if he was a finalist, he laughed in amazement that I would identify him that quickly.

After that, Nagi Naganathan could have politely dismissed me as he took his luggage to the airport shuttle. Instead, the Ohio college dean backed into the hotel lobby and launched a conversation. I told him that I am a two-degree graduate of UND and that I taught English in the Grand Forks Public Schools for 40 years.

Naganathan's eyes sparkled as he inquired about my teaching English to adolescents for such an extended time. He laughed repeatedly during our conversation. Again, his magical eyes seemed captivating.

In moments, his wife joined us. When her husband identified me, she smiled warmly. I told her that the couple had visited Grand Forks at a time of winter-spring; in response, she, too, laughed at their good fortune.

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As the couple left the hotel, I expressed hope that they'd enjoyed their Grand Forks. The dean instantly agreed, saying that that the people and presence of the UND campus had totally charmed them.

Later, as I visited with my friend, I predicted that Naganathan would be chosen as one of the three finalists. The man's "magical swagger" certainly would have proved compelling to the UND Presidential Search Committee. Plus, I'd read that at the forum a day earlier, Naganathan had made the audience laugh at least a dozen times. I concluded that the university needs to laugh repeatedly after its recent moniker nightmare.

Later that week, I learned that Naganathan is indeed one of the three finalists. I smiled when I saw that my prophecy had proven correct. Should he be selected by the Board of Higher Education as UND's next president, I will not be surprised. Rather, I will be thrilled for the Ohio dean and the university.

Luther Frette

Grand Forks

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