Since announcing I will be leaving the University of North Dakota, I often get asked the question, “what are you most proud of?” It’s a difficult question to answer, because there are many amazing things happening at UND. Also, the progress made hasn’t been accomplished by one individual, but by many who came together to develop the One UND Strategic Plan. The plan the UND community developed provided the university with focus. The progress we achieved together in a short amount of time is impressive. I want to highlight a few:

  • UND has improved its four-year graduation rate by 10 percentage points in just three-years. This is almost unheard of in higher education.

  • UND has increased its research expenditures to over $100 million. This drives opportunities for students and benefits the state.

  • UND is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in campus renewal, with minimal state funds, in addition to $70 million in deferred maintenance savings. UND’s campus will become even more beautiful over the next couple of years, something both the City and University can celebrate.

  • UND upgraded our website to be mobile-friendly, which is already dramatically improving not only the usability but also increasing prospective student engagements with UND. We also invested in a new customer relationship management system (CRM) and adopted the national Common Application, which will only continue to improve how we attract prospective students.

  • UND moved to an incentive-based budget model, which allows UND to be strategic and more nimble in its budget allocations and explore new revenue opportunities.

Each of these accomplishments and many others not listed are impressive on their own, but when I reflect on how, together, they advance the University and how quickly they were achieved, I am so proud of the team in place that made it happen. Dr. Joshua Wynne was part of the team that developed the One UND Strategic Plan. Dr. Wynne has a long history with the university, the state, and UND’s community of alumni and friends. He will do a great job leading UND as interim president, and I am sure he will do a great job in continuing to move UND forward. President Wynne is supported by highly capable leaders up and down the organization that are dedicated to UND’s success.

I wish President Wynn and all the UND team all the best and stand ready to help with the transition any way I can. Debbie and I look forward to coming back to see the amazing progress at UND. Debbie’s mother lives in Moorhead, Minn., so we will be back in the area often.

As for what will I miss about UND, we will miss the many good friends and colleagues we have made here in North Dakota. I also note that the University of Colorado does not have a hockey team. So we intend to continue cheering for UND, and plan to be in attendance at the University of Denver-University of North Dakota game when UND comes to Denver. I am, we are, #UNDproud.

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UND President Mark Kennedy is in his final days on the Grand Forks campus before leaving to become president of the University of Colorado system.