Plain Talk: Wynne Says Former UND President Mark Kennedy’s Progress Was “Tainted” by “Personality Issues”

Joshua Wynne, dean of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was named interim president of the university on Thursday, May 30. (Photo courtesy of UND Today)

Former University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy, who left that position under a cloud of criticism to take a new one at the University of Colorado, did a lot of good things according to interim UND President Joshua Wynne. He said, on this episode of Plain Talk, that you have to “separate the message from the messenger.”

A lot of the progress Kennedy made on the UND campus, according to Wynne, was “tainted by some of the personality issues.”

“Personality issues may have obscured some of the good things going on,” he added, but also said he wants to move on from the controversies of the Kennedy era. “Whatever has happened in the past is the past.”

Wynne, who also heads up UND’s medical school, has a contract that will end in June of next year or whenever a new president is ready to take over. He says during his time heading up the institution he’d like to get the faculty and administrators focused on serving the state. “We are public servants and are accountable to the people,” Wynne told me. Though the Legislature likely won’t meet again for a regular session during his time as president, he said he’d like UND’s approach to political leadership to be one where the campus asks what it can do for the state, rather than what the state can do for the campus.

Wynne also weighed in on the sort of candidate who ought to replace him. He said the experience with some recent university presidents, including Kennedy, “has not been positive.” He’d like to see the state hire somebody who, if not from North Dakota, is capable of understanding the dynamics here.

Also on this episode, can government intervention save rural grocery stores?

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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