David Cook was officially installed as NDSU’s 15th president during inauguration ceremonies Sept. 30 in Festival Concert Hall. The event, held as part of the Homecoming Week activities, was merged with Cook’s first presentation of the annual State of the University Address.
Following the National Anthem sung by the Bison Arts Singers, Provost Margaret Fitzgerald welcomed the audience. “NDSU is a dynamic and complex organization serving multiple stakeholders and facing many challenges and changes,” Fitzgerald said. “Thank you, Dr. Cook, for taking on this role and leading us. We appreciate your characteristic kindness, wisdom and wit. Together we will thrive and transform the lives of the people we serve.”
Cook was greeted with comments from Anastassiya Andrianova, Faculty Senate president; Christian Walth, student body president; Fred Hudson, Staff Senate president; and Stacy Ackerman, NDSU Foundation board president.
The “Charge to the President” was presented by Casey Ryan, State Board of Higher Education chair, and the investiture was conducted by Chancellor Mark Hagerott of the North Dakota University System.
During his address, Cook said he has spent much of the time since he took office on May 17 “listening and learning” from faculty, staff, alumni, students and various stakeholders across the state.
“You’re already seeing my type of leadership. It’s going to be big on listening and learning – to me, that’s how you build relationships, that’s how you build trust,” Cook said, noting he took part in a two-week tour around North Dakota. “I’ve learned a lot. Every time I had one of these meetings, I learned something different.
“I want to know what the state needs,” he said. “I want to know how we organize, how we set a vision for who we want to be and who we need to be moving forward.”
Cook outlined five key focus areas that are built on NDSU’s strategic plan. They include:
• Enhancing enrollment, retention and student success
• Prioritizing NDSU’s R-1 Carnegie classification status
• Investing in the well-being of the people across the NDSU community
• Building a stronger culture of diversity, inclusion and respect
• Embracing NDSU’s critical role as a land-grant university
“Those are super important things and we need to work on them together,” Cook told the estimated 750 attendees. “That’s a good start. We need everybody’s help both internally and externally on how to get through these very real and significant challenges, and also help with the transformation aspect. There is a grand opportunity to make this place different and better for the next five years, 10 years and beyond.”
He said trips around the state are crucial to keep the flow of new ideas on how to proceed as an institution.
“I can’t do it on my own, I need all of you. I appreciate you coming along for the ride and I appreciate your support,” he said, noting the campus and state have been very welcoming to him and his wife, Katie. “We’re getting a ton of love from everybody and we’re very grateful for that. Enjoy the ride, we’ve got a lot of tough work to go. Thank you for your friendship and your support. Go Bison.”
The festivities concluded with the singing of the NDSU school song, “The Yellow and the Green.”
Prior to joining NDSU, Cook was vice chancellor for the Office of Public Affairs and Economic Development at the University of Kansas. Cook also spent 14 years at the University of Kansas Medical Center – the final seven years as a member of the leadership cabinet. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Iowa State University, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas.
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