You can view a video of this statement here. The forum will be rebroadcast at 8 p.m. today (Friday, April 9) on UND Cable Channel 3 in Grand Forks.
Today, we come together to begin the process of transition. The State Board of Higher Education’s decision to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo launches this initiative…and allows all of us at the University of North Dakota to focus on our core mission: The advancement of knowledge and learning through teaching, research, scholarship and innovation…and through service to our community, state, region and nation. UND is about people — students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends – who must come together if we are to successfully fulfill this mission. I ask our students and alumni and all friends of the University to join me in the important work ahead as we define new traditions for the University of North Dakota. In my 40 years in higher education, I have never met a more passionate alumni base or a more dedicated faculty, staff and student body than we have at UND. Our alums are a tremendous asset to this university… and I understand their strong feelings toward the Fighting Sioux identity. There are great memories and accomplishments attached to it. As a result, many will find it difficult to say goodbye to the nickname and logo. But by working together, our gain will be greater than our loss. I want to reassure our students and alumni – and all friends of the University – that we will make sure we appropriately retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. To manage that process, I am appointing Dr. Robert Boyd, our Vice President for Student and Outreach Services, as the Transition Officer. Dr. Boyd is a highly respected leader on the UND campus and across the state. I want to thank Dr. Boyd for agreeing to lead this process. As we move forward, I will create a President’s Transition Cabinet made up of representative stakeholders. This group will work with me as the transition process is implemented and will be viewed as critical to reaching a successful result. Our commitment to educating all students dates to the founding of the University in 1883. Our commitment to educating American Indian students is borne out by our more than 20 American Indian-related programs and services that have produced 20 percent of all of the working American Indian doctors in the United States…as well as countless nurses, scientists, engineers, business and civic leaders, educators, and others who have made profound contributions to our country. It is a commitment that will continue to deepen. The passion that our alumni and friends of the university have for UND is driven by much more than the nickname and logo. The bond is stronger than that…the connections more meaningful… and the commitment more dedicated. Knowing our alumni, I believe they will embrace this opportunity to come together and move forward as one UND family. We will be a stronger university as we focus on our ambitious core mission and develop the new traditions of an identity around which the entire University of North Dakota community can rally. And now I’ll be happy to take a few questions.