Student success, new construction, innovative research and athletic achievements abound at UND in 2014


David L. Dodds

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Student success, new construction, innovative research and athletic achievements abound at UND in 2014

It was another momentous year on the University of North Dakota campus in 2014, and we’re looking forward to an exceptional 2015. But, before we get too much further in to the new year, let’s take a moment to reflect on a few of the high points of the last 365 days at UND.

Top 10 UND Homepage Feature Stories in 2014 (ranked in order of page views):

1. A dozen Olympians UND had 12 current students and alumni competing or serving as support staff for Olympic teams from four nations last year: USA, Canada, Finland and Germany.

2. Class of 2018 photo Generation Z landed. More than 1,900 new freshman ? most of whom were born in or around 1996 ? moved in, and got accustomed to their new surroundings at UND.

3. Frozen rivals UND's men's hockey team took on long-time rival Minnesota in the semifinal of the NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia, Pa. in what would turn out to be a stunning and heart-breaking final-seconds loss for the Green and White.

4. Welcome Weekend UND surged with life again after the summer, as new and returning students and their families made their way to campus for Welcome Weekend, Aug. 23-24.

5. King of the Nerds Kayla LaFrance was crowned "King of the Nerds" in the final episode for season two of the show King of the Nerds (KOTN) on Turner Broadcasting System. Not only is LaFrance a brilliant nerd but she happens to be a UND Space Studies alumna.

6. Going Greek Nearly 200 women joined UND's Greek Community.

7. UNDer construction Hardhats and work boots were in style on the UND campus last summer, with three major construction projects underway, another soon to begin and still another well on its way toward its fund-raising goal.

8. Onward and upward The UND Aerospace Foundation and the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences broke ground on a much-needed UAS/aerospace research facility that will go a long way in serving the growing needs of the school's unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) enterprise as well as other aerospace related research activities.

9. Viral Phenom UND sophomore music sensation Will Biernat garnered more than 100,000 followers on social media.

10. Hess gift UND announced a $5 million gift from the Hess Corporation to the UND College of Engineering and Mines. The gift, along with a $2.5 million match from the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund, will provide $7.5 million in funding towards the new Collaborative Energy Complex in the College of Engineering & Mines.

The following are other significant UND news and feature stories from 2014:


Best in (air)show A team of University of North Dakota engineering students recently won a major international competition, nailing down the lead with an impressive unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that they designed and built from scratch.

Going to Carnegie Vinicius Sant'Ana, a Sao Paulo, Brazil native and University of North Dakota student violinist, had the prestigious honor of playing violin in the revered Carnegie Hall in New York City on Nov. 28.

Era Bell Thompson move University of North Dakota's Multicultural Center and Multicultural Student Services officially relocated to a new home on the third floor of the Memorial Union Wednesday, but not before saying goodbye to their previous headquarters at 2800 University Ave., where it's been since 1976.

Engineering benefactors UND’s College of Engineering and Mines announced a $ 1-million impact gift to support its Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC).


Lyme Disease discovery UND scientists warn that all of the variables for contracting Lyme disease are now present and established in Grand Forks County. Although eastern North Dakota borders Minnesota counties where the risk of contracting the tick-borne Lyme disease is moderate to high based on confirmed human cases, few studies have been done on the migration of the disease farther west.

Healthy UND On Nov. 15, UND announced it will join the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a three-year commitment to make its campus healthier by adopting guidelines around food and nutrition, physical activity and programming.

Treating Ebola Research by the University of North Dakota and Avianax, a private-sector company located in Grand Forks, might be just what the world needs to level the battlefield in the war against Ebola, as well as end the "wild-goose chase" for a cure.

Top-notch leaders UND President Robert Kelley and others from UND were recognized as some of the best higher education leaders in a large region of the United States, according to a national student affairs organization.

Nickname town halls UND’s Nickname and Logo Process Recommendation Task Force held Virtual Town Hall Meetings on Monday, Nov. 17, at multiple locations in North Dakota.


Nyberg and Hurley Visit UND Astronaut couple Karen Nyberg, (BSME'94) and Doug Hurley visited UND on October 24.

Choral excellence UND's Concert Choir is singing a sweet tune after winning the 2014 American Prize in Choral Excellence.

One-stop shop On, Oct. 7, UND administrators and student leaders cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the school's new One-Stop Student Services Center, located conveniently in the heart of campus action on the main floor of the Memorial Union.

Studio One’s 500th The numbers tell the story—690 regional and national awards, more than 800 alumni, and now—500 shows. Studio One's student interns and professional staff celebrated the milestone telecast in 2014.

UND received CACUBO ‘Best Practice Award’ for paperless accounts payable The University of North Dakota recently received the Central Association of College and Business Officers (CACUBO) "Best Practice Award" for successfully implementing paperless accounts payable.

UND Student String Quartet plans musical tour of western North Dakota Oct. 3-5 The University of North Dakota String Quartet toured made a successful tour of points west, including Williston, Stanley, and Bismarck.

Norwegian Ambassador Kåre R. Aas visits Grand Forks Oct. 1-2 As part of his first visit to North Dakota, Kåre Aas, Norway's ambassador to the U.S., visited the University of North Dakota Oct 1-2.


UND enrolls its most academically prepared, most diverse freshman class The University of North Dakota recruited its most academically prepared freshman class ever, with an average ACT score of 23.8 – the highest in UND's history, and an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.4 – also the highest in UND's history.

Task force announced for UND nickname and logo consideration process The University of North Dakota announced the formation of a Task Force to participate in the development of a process for the potential adoption of a new nickname and logo.


The return of Lord Stanley The Stanley Cup was once again brought to UND, this time by Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings defenseman and UND hockey alumnus; and Tony Gasparini, a Los Angeles Kings scout, Grand Forks native and son of legendary former UND hockey coach John "Gino" Gasparini.

Officer ‘Ben’ UND’s K-9 Police Officer "Ben," a two-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, raised his right paw and wondered what all the hub-bub was about. Cloaked in a specially modified bullet-proof vest, the dog, flanked by about a dozen of his fellow University Police Department officers, took an oath of service to upload the policies and laws of the University, the University System and the State of North Dakota at a special swearing-in ceremony held Aug. 11, at the Chester Fritz Auditorium.

Big grant The National Institutes of Health granted $16.8 million to Professor Donald Sens, Ph.D., in the Department of Pathology at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The five-year grant renews the NIH's longstanding investment in the work by Sens that began in 2001.

Extra-terrestrial habitat UND’s student crew of "ILMH Mission I" (Inflatable Lunar/Mars Habitat) exited UND's ILMH after a 10-day mission.

New Nursing dean UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas DiLorenzo announced that Gayle Roux has been named dean of UND's College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines (CNPD). Roux assumed her new responsibilities at UND on Sept. 2.

Yearwood Foundation A Grand Forks-based foundation with ties to UND once again donated computers and software to schools and organizations in 2014. Since 2013, "The Jewel and Randolph Education Technology Foundation" has donated 245 computers to areas in North Dakota and abroad. Two UND employees started the foundation: Dave Yearwood, a professor and chair of UND's Technology Department, and his wife, Jo-Anne, director of the University Children's Center and an instructor in UND's Teaching and Learning Department. The foundation is named in honor of Dave's parents.


New Business dean DiLorenzo announced that Margaret L. Williams, interim dean and professor of management at the School of Business at Wayne State University in Detroit, would be the new dean of UND's College of Business and Public Administration. Her first day on campus was Aug. 7.


Groundbreaking medicine UND broke ground for the new $122 million School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) building on June 12.

NIH grants $1.7 million to UND scientist to study unique defense against superbug infections Min Wu, a University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences scientist, received a $1.7 million, five-year R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study a unique defense against superbug infections. MAY:

Entrepreneurial spirit The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) approved the establishment of the UND School of Entrepreneurship, elevating the successful program from department status.

UND Concert Choir say 'Hola, Cuba!' After performing at Commencement on May 17, the University of North Dakota Concert Choir set off on a musical tour of Cuba, performing, by invitation, with the National Choir of Cuba and Coro Exaudi.


UND is key player in federally mandated UAS testing program The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that North Dakota is the first of the six test sites chosen to perform unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research to go live.

Accreditation Following an extensive self-study program and a campus visit from peer reviewers, UND was granted continued accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (HLC of the NCA), one of six regional associations that provide accreditation to post –secondary institutions. UND has been continuously accredited by the HLC since the Association organized in 1913.

Diversity and inclusion UND announced that it had completed its search for an Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, launched in late 2013, and named Sandra Mitchell to the position. Mitchell, who held the position of Chief Diversity Officer at Regis University in Denver, assumed her new role on July 14.


The Big Dance "Let's dance!" If she didn't say those exact words, that's the look UND freshman point guard Leah Szabla had on her face as she looked toward her bench with 15 seconds to go in the Big Sky Championship game against the University of Montana on March 15, at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

UND Writers Conference to receive $35,000 annually from Alice Carlson’s Estate Beginning in 2015, the University of North Dakota Writers Conference will benefit from an annual commitment of $35,000, thanks to an estate gift from the late Alice Carlson.


So long, Dr. Johnson Phyllis Johnson, UND's Vice President for Research and Economic Development, announced plans to retire at the end of June 2014.

David Dodds University & Public Affairs writer

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