Defining a Decade: UND’s nickname change is Herald’s top UND story of past 10 years – Grand Forks Herald

Posted: January 2, 2020 at 7:41 am


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The Sioux nickname was retired in 2012 after a decades-long fight over the name.

The nickname change was a defining part of the decade for UND, a part of an era filled with change and some contention.

By the time June 2012 came and went North Dakotans voted that it was time to move on from the Fighting Sioux name and onto something new. It wouldnt be the end of the fight, though.

In July 2015, a committee tasked with finding UNDs next nickname eliminated the option for the school to play without a nickname. The decision sparked ire and drew protests. Former UND President Robert Kelley said he would reconsider the decision amid public uproar but, ultimately, didn't include it in the vote.

Later that year the five names -- the Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs -- were put out for a vote, with Fighting Hawks ultimately winning and a new logo being unveiled in June 2016.

But the transition hasnt been easy.

The nickname change was painful for many on campus and continues to be a sore spot for some donors, UND Alumni Association & Foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink said in a recent interview reflecting on the decade.

Thoughts on the topic are wide and varying, she said, noting she doesnt want to speak for all alumni on the subject.

I think weve come quite a good way, she said. We have some alumni who have embraced the new name fully and some that probably never will embrace it. Then we have those in between that understand why we are where we are and yet love the history of the Fighting Sioux nickname.

Carlson Zink said, as the foundations development officers are out on the road, they dont hear as much about the nickname change as they did a few years ago, but theyre always open to having the discussion, if need be.

Its not a s big of a topic as it was at the start of the decade, she said. Its really kind of quieted down.

Mark Kennedy era lasts just three years: Former UND President Mark Kennedys time came and went quickly for the university. Kennedy, who began the position on July 1, 2016, had a tenure filled with controversy and some success. The former president dealt with severe budget cuts during his first legislative session in 2017. Later that year he would also help introduce a new strategic plan for the university, which it continues to use even after his departure earlier this spring.

Kennedy is now the president of the University of Colorado system.

Kennedy was a polarizing figure for many in the community. High-profile donor Kris Engelstad McGarry, trustee of the Engelstad Family Foundation, publicly stated the Engelstad Foundation would not give any direct funds to the university so long as Kennedy was president. The two had a public feud in 2018. Others, meanwhile, praised him for his work on UNDs strategic plan.

Former UND President Mark Kennedy answers questions during a 2016 meeting with the Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Masses of faculty removed amid budget cuts: Amid declining state revenues, UND saw significant cuts during the past decade.

Between 2014 and 2017, the university had shed about 600 workers, the Herald reported in 2017.

Falling state revenues ahead of the 2017 legislative session led to a systemwide cut of about $212 million for the 2017-19 biennium -- a 25% drop in appropriated dollars from an adjusted total of general fund spending through the previous two-year budget period.

UND's portion was about $32 million, a cut that led to an across-campus budget contraction of 12%.

UND institutes new strategic plan: UND added a new strategic plan in 2017. The five-year, UND plan will help steer the university over the next few years.

The goals include providing a strong undergraduate liberal arts foundation, increasing graduation and retention rates, delivering a variety of enrollment opportunities for students, becoming a high-level research institution, becoming more inclusive, meeting the educational needs for veterans and military personnel and engaging alumni.

UND cuts womens hockey, swimming programs: In March 2017, amid a sizable drop in state funding, UND cut its womens hockey program and its mens and womens swimming and diving teams.

"This was a difficult decision," former UND Athletic Director Brian Faison said at the time. "It's a sad day when opportunities for our student-athletes are reduced. The university is going through campus-wide, state-mandated budget cuts. As a part of the university, we needed to do what is in the long-term, best interests of the university, as well as the best interests of the athletic department."

The elimination of the womens hockey program sent shock waves through the region, the Herald reported.

UND had a dozen Olympians in the teams history, including prominent Grand Forks natives and twin sisters Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux.

A discrimination lawsuit about the elimination of the womens hockey program was filed against the North Dakota University System in 2018 and dismissed in 2019.

Monique Lamoureux is greeted by girls hockey players in Grand Forks at the Ralph Engelstad Arena as she and her twin sister, Jocelyne, celebrate with the community after arriving back with gold medals from the recent Olympics. photo by Eric Hylden/Forum News Service

Enrollment hits an all-time high, then drops: Enrollment hit an all-time high at UND in 2012 with more than 15,200 students. Since then, enrollment has been declining slightly, following a nationwide trend.

UNDs fall 2019 enrollment was about 13,580, which is down from fall 2018.

Meloney Linder, UND vice president for marketing and communications, previously told the Herald that the university was not surprised by the slight drop in enrollment. Two years ago the university changed the number of required credits for students to take, from 125 to 120. Linder said university officials knew that would impact the number of enrolled students at UND and had budgeted for the change.

Online enrollment climbs: While on-campus enrollment has taken a hit over the past few years, UND is doing well in its online enrollment.

Online enrollment has changed the higher education landscape, Jeff Holm, UNDs vice provost for online education and strategic planning, said in a Herald interview in June 2019.

No longer can you be content to compete for students and draw students and attract students from your local region, Holm said.

UND leads the region for online-exclusive students with more than 3,500 students enrolled in online-only courses throughout the country. Thousands of on-campus students are also taking online classes.

Campus construction: In an effort to reduce the universitys deferred maintenance mountain, several campus buildings have been torn down in the past decade.

UNDs long-standing student union was torn down in 2019. Students voted near the end of 2018 to build a new $80 million Memorial Union.

Much of University Avenue also was rebuilt in 2019 with new crosswalks and other areas being constructed

Additionally, the university, thanks to help from the North Dakota Legislature, built a new School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

A rendering, provided by UND, illustrates what the new Memorial Union would look like.

Fundraising hits an all-time high: Donations to the UND Alumni Association & Foundation reached an all-time high in 2019, amid much change and controversy at the university.

The foundation raised $67.7 million at the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

The record is nearly twice the amount brought in the previous year. The previous record was $49.9 million set in fiscal year 2011.

Of that money, $20 million was donated by Werner and Colleen Nistler for a new business school.

The couple donated the lead gift of $20 million toward the construction of the new building on the UND campus. The project is estimated to cost $70 million. The North Dakota Legislature earlier this year voted to match the Nistlers' $20 million donation if the university was able to raise the additional money.

Werner Nistler earned an accounting degree from UND in 1968. He is founder and chairman of Touchmark, which owns 14 full-service senior living communities in 10 states and one Canadian province. Colleen Nistler is the vice chairperson. The company is based in Oregon. The couple live in the Portland area.

DeAnna Carlson Zink, UND Alumni Association & Foundation CEOEric Hylden / Forum News Service

New UND president Andrew Armacost named: With the departure of Kennedy in the spring of 2019, it was time for the State Board of Higher Education to find the next president of the university.

The State Board of Higher Education chose Andrew Armacost on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Armacost, former dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy, will be the 13th leader of the university.

Nick Hacker, chair of the State Board of Higher Education, selected Armacost because of his deep passion for service and love for students.

As you listened and read about him (you learned he) is someone who is a real, true servant leader, Hacker said. I really look forward to seeing his leadership style here.

The boards decision was praised across campus.

Armacost will begin his duties on June 1. His annual salary is $369,800.

Newly named UND president Andrew Armacost answers questions Tuesday, Dec. 3, following the announcement at UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Defining the Decade schedule

Editor's note: This is the seventh in a series of headlining stories from the past decade.

Already online: Herald reporter Ann Bailey recaps the top agriculture stories of the decade, including the recent historic losses as farmers left massive numbers of crops in the fields due to adverse weather.

Already online: Herald journalist Pamela Knudson highlights the issues the Grand Forks school district has faced in the past 10 years, including a revitalization in arts facilities and a look at school building needs.

Already online: Grand Forks business writer Adam Kurtz tabulates the area's top financial and economic moments and noting the positive impacts created by Grand Sky.

Already online: Herald photographer Eric Hylden shares the top photos of decade, and Brad Dokken takes aim at the top 10 stories in the outdoors.

Already online: Herald reporter Hannah Shirley turns the key on crime and courts, highlighting the impacts of opioids and gun violence

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 1: Community editor Sydney Mook chooses the UND stories of the decade, and the Herald's sports department kicks off its top 10 stories.

THURSDAY, Jan. 2: Grand Forks reporter Joe Bowen looks at the top issues for Grand Forks.

FRIDAY, Jan. 3: Reporter Sam Easter puts the spotlight on East Grand Forks, including the closing of Whitey's.

See more here:
Defining a Decade: UND's nickname change is Herald's top UND story of past 10 years - Grand Forks Herald

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