|Bus tour packs big visual, emotional punch for new UND faculty, administrators|
It could be the square mile-sized fields of grain, or going uphill on a flat prairie, or learning about the University of North Dakota's extensive network of medical training facilities; or it could be seeing the world's largest buffalo on a hill in Jamestown, N.D. Or it could be as simple as the warm welcome and a hearty meal at one of the North Dakota's biggest seed farms.
However you stack it up, the North Dakota experience packs a big visual and emotional punch for first-time UND faculty and administrators on this year's cross-state bus tour. The 2006 iteration of the tour -- the 16th since the tour was first launched by former UND president Tom Clifford -- launched Monday under clearing skies, a slight breeze, and mild temperatures, with retired UND bus driver and tour veteran Fran Kryzsko at the wheel.
"It's always a 'holy smoke!' experience" for the first-timers," says President Charles Kupchella, who with First Lady Adele Kupchella is leading the tour for the sixth time. The tour this year includes about 35 people: several newcomers, a couple who decided to do the southern leg (which alternates with the northern leg every other year), new registrar Suzanne Anderson, and athletic director Tom Buning and his wife Debi.
The three-day tour's coordinator, Fred Wittmann, a native of the farm community of Casselton about 20 miles west of Fargo, says North Dakota surprises most newcomers.
"I think that the state's huge agriculture enterprise is a big shock to many," he says. That's one reason why, on the southern leg that generally tracks close to or along I-94, s stop at a big farm is always in order. This year, the stop was at the Peterson Seed Farm, near Prosper, N.D., about 20 minutes west of Fargo.
"We are so happy to do this because it gives us a chance to show the new professors at UND something about North Dakota agriculture," says Julie Peterson, hostess of today's farm visit. Leading the bus along several dirt roads to showcase the farm's corn and soybean seed crops, Peterson explained the basics of agriculture; the big wow factor included a description of how much farm equipment costs these days and what it takes high-techwise to keep an operation going.
"I'd say this is about the most impressive thing I've seen so far since I came to North Dakota," says Edsel Ammons, who teaches in the physics depart and hails from Ohio State University.
The farm visit included a traditional North Dakota farm meal of barbecued pork, potato salad and other fixings, and a big tray of bars. Before departing, the UND motor coach was backed onto the truck-size scale: 38,720 lbs, just about empty; once all 35 passengers climbed aboard, full of lunch, the scale registered 43,720 lbs.
"I hope nobody was watching as I got on," quipped Mrs. Kupchella.
As noted by President Kupchella during his introductory remarks to the tour, the trip is funded by the UND Alumni Association, and is designed to acquaint new faculty and administrators with the state and its landmarks as well as provide them with an opportunity to form connections with other people on campus.
"We want to help them feel this is their home," Wittmann said. "Our intent is to give them a sample of the state, a glimpse of what is available."
The tour also gives new faculty a sense of where many of their students will come from, said Kupchella. The participants will get an education about their new state which they will be able to translate to the classroom.
"Every year on the bus the faculty begin talking about what they are learning about the state's agricultural and energy industries, and about North Dakota's historical and political roots, and how they could connect better with their students because of what they are learning on the trip," said Kupchella, who is in his eighth year as UND's 10th president.
This is the 16th year of the UND bus tour, and the sixth year on the tour for Dr. Doug Munski, a UND geography professor who, with his solid repertoire of North Dakota geographic and cultural lore, is again the tour's color commentator. Among his more notable observations -- the kind that astonishes newcomers -- is "going uphill" as the bus headed south toward Fargo from Grand Forks on I-29. It's a geographic fact, but tough to accept on an apparently flat landscape.
Among the new faculty and administrators on the tour:
* UND President Charles and Adele Kupchella; Suzanne Anderson, University Registrar; Edsel Ammons, Assistant Professor, Physics; Tim Bigelow, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering; Hans Broedel, Assistant Professor, History; Tom Buning, Athletic Director, Athletics, and Debi Buning, spouse; Tom Clement, Instructor, Business & Public Administration;
* Pablo DeLeon, Research Associate, Space Studies, and his wife, Ana Maria DeLeon; Tatyana Dumova, School of Communication, and husband Alex Polyahov; Tina Harding, Instructor, RLS/Counseling; Charles Hosford, Assistant Professor, Office of Medical Education; Naima Kaabouch, assistant professor, Electrical Engineering; Brenda Kallio, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership; Andrei Kirilenko, Associate Professor, Earth Systems Science & Policy; Adam Kitzes, Professor, English; Fran Kryzsko, bus driver;
* Doug Munski, tour guide and professor of Geography; Alexei Noviko, Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Jill Novotny, tour coordinator; Juan Pedraza, writer/editor, University Relations, an dhis wife, Debra Pedraza, Resident Apartment Director, Housing; Janie Penterits, Assistant Professor, Deptartment of Counseling; Nuananong Seal, Assistant Professor, Family and Community Nursing, and her husband, John Seal; Wesley Smith, assistant professor, Art; Brian Tande, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering; Fred Wittmann, tour coordinator.