What a year this has been! The opportunity to proudly lead such a great institution has been an honor, and to do so during a global pandemic has offered many interesting opportunities. Kathy and I have appreciated the warm welcome by the citizens of Grand Forks and North Dakota, and are proud to call this wonderful place our home. Although this year of physical distancing has reduced our opportunities for face-to-face engagement, we are eager for the upcoming year to offer frequent chances to be out and about.

In fact, Kathy and I will be joining our Alumni Association & Foundation on a series of visits across the state so we can meet our fellow North Dakotans in person. These “Meet the Armacosts” events kick off June 2 in Grand Forks and run through August, with stops in Fargo, Bismarck, Dickinson, Watford City and Williston.

As citizens, your University of North Dakota should make you proud. Our academic programs continue to deliver excellence, our university continues to graduate future leaders and our sports teams continue to represent us on the national stage.

The recent legislative session gave a strong indication of the value our elected leaders place in UND. With great support from our legislators and the Governor’s Office, we secured stable funding for the operations of the university and for key strategic initiatives that allow UND to showcase its ability to support the state’s economic infrastructure.

This funding allows UND to be a national leader in discovery, creativity and innovation. As part of our daily activities, faculty members and students engage in research that broadens minds and expands knowledge. Some of our faculty research ties to key research areas such as human health, energy, rural health, data science and unmanned aircraft systems.

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And when we say, “To infinity and beyond,” we mean it. We are expanding efforts in academic disciplines across the campus to address the challenges of unmanned and manned space flight and exploration.

The work on our campus will benefit the North Dakota and Grand Forks economies. UND has served as a catalyst for our state’s ever-growing unmanned aircraft systems industry, and it will continue to invent and discover new ideas and technologies that will benefit our state.

Our students, faculty and staff members are focused not only on what happens on campus, but what happens across the city, state and region. Whether as volunteers, as employees or as your neighbors, we are proud to be part of Grand Forks and North Dakota.

As we return the campus to normal operations this summer and into the fall, our focus will be to connect even more strongly with you. We have several formal programs we are launching that will promote local business to the members of our campus, and we will continue the spirit of volunteerism across the state and region.

We also welcome you to the campus to see the incredible changes that have not only given a fresh look to UND, but have relied on our local tradespeople to proudly use their craft to make incredible progress on projects like the new Memorial Union and the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration.

Our campus adds to the life of our city and state, and we invite you to be part of it.

Andrew Armacost is president of the University of North Dakota.