The pending departure of UND President Mark Kennedy is a huge opportunity for UND and the state university system. Here's why, and here's how the opportunity can be realized. First, Kennedy is likely to go, despite protests against him in Colorado, where he is the only finalist to take over the University of Colorado system, despite campus protests and despite the governor's suggestion that he wouldn't be welcome.
The problem with spring is that there's just too much going on. Every day brings a new species and new excitement to the birding world, and more consternation to the bird nerd writing a weekly column.
If consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, as the essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as writing, we North Dakotans would have little to fear from our Legislature, for it is an inconsistent outfit. Emerson did not use the word "consistency" unconditionally. He used a modifier. "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," he wrote in "Self-Reliance," published in 1841. Emerson is usually understood to have meant that we each ought to make up our own minds, to be self-reliant, in other words.
You could argue the mallard is the mother of all ducks. You'd lose the argument — but not for lack of trying. Say "duck," and mallard comes to mind. As the scientists profiling the species for "The Birds of North America" suggest, the mallard is "often the standard against which all other ducks are compared." My brother-in-law thought so, too. He maintained that there are only two kinds of ducks: mallards and one other, which he labeled with a well-known and easily pronounceable adjective that can't be printed here.
Just to be clear: It's not my fault that Mark Kennedy is leaving UND. In a column published the morning Kennedy was hired, I tried to warn him — and the Board of Higher Education --- that North Dakotans aren't good at being talked down to. Kennedy didn't listen and the board didn't seem to care. That was a big mistake. Kennedy's ego and ambition kept getting in the way, and in less than three years ruined his effectiveness on campus and destroyed his credibility in Bismarck.
No pain, no gain, say physical fitness enthusiasts. When it comes to higher education, legislators have a twist on the slogan. All pain, no gain, they say. And we're not talking about the pain caused by budget cuts in the last legislative session. This session, lawmakers are focused on governance.
The blackbirds are a tough bunch, and you could get into an argument about identification. The Grand Forks County checklist has four species with the name blackbird, but the family includes a number of other birds that are generally lumped under the name "blackbird," notably the cowbirds and grackles, which indeed are black in color and thus candidates for confusion. To be fair, the blackbird clan includes readily recognizable species, as well, including such unmistakable beauties as the Baltimore oriole and the western meadowlark, but that's a matter for bird geneticists.
Go digging around in the past and you're bound to come across details suggesting that history does repeat itself. There are many apparent coincidences, except these are really antecedents and consequences, because lawmakers wrestle with familiar issues almost every session.
Hawks are among the earliest migrants to return to the Red River Valley. Many arrive before flood season — and several species are easy to find now. In general, hawks are conspicuous birds, and since they are abundant in this season, spring is a good time to get to know them. Here's an introduction to local hawks. "Hawk" is a general term that lumps several groups of birds together. These are the "diurnal raptors," which is scientific shorthand for birds of prey that hunt in the daytime — in contrast to owls, which are mostly nighttime predators.
As lawmakers gathered in Bismarck last December, the chambers were abuzz with ideas about reforming the state's higher education system. At the same time, university presidents and economic development groups asked for funds for research. Lawmakers are still in session, but the adjournment deadline is looming. Here's a status report with a hint at a potential outcome.