November 19, 2020

Weekly Update from President Bresciani

NDSU Community,

Last Friday, Governor Burgum issued a new directive limiting certain activities and imposing a statewide mask mandate. We appreciate and applaud Governor Burgum’s recent efforts to help mitigate the virus. Let’s all continue to do our part to help protect our community and state.    

Other items of interest for this week:

1. Land Acknowledgment. I’m pleased to share that the committee charged with developing NDSU’s Land Acknowledgement Statement completed a draft, and on November 5, the Native American Commission of the City of Fargo agreed to provide a letter of support for the statement. A website is under development to provide more context about the statement, its development and how it may be used.  I’ll let you know when that has been finalized. Thank you to all who have worked on the statement. The text is as follows:

We collectively acknowledge that we gather at NDSU, a land grant institution, on the traditional lands of the Oceti Sakowin (Dakota, Lakota, Nakoda) and Anishinaabe Peoples in addition to many diverse Indigenous Peoples still connected to these lands. We honor with gratitude Mother Earth and the Indigenous Peoples who have walked with her throughout generations. We will continue to learn how to live in unity with Mother Earth and build strong, mutually beneficial, trusting relationships with Indigenous Peoples of our region.

2. Garden. We had the Grandmother Earth’s Gift of Life Garden groundbreaking on October 12. The event enjoyed considerable local support and media attention. Since then, for planning purposes, I engaged the Program Director of our Landscape Architecture Program, Mathew Kirkwood, to consider an active-learning engagement of our design students with Indigenous students, faculty and staff as their clients. Alternatively, NDSU landscaping architecture staff may also be charged with moving it forward. It could prove to be an exemplary experience for all involved.

Not unrelated, an important component of the Garden has been the inclusion of cedar trees. They are hard to come by in this area, and equally hard to sustain due to wildlife winter predation. I’ve challenged our Facilities Management folks to find a solution, and to their credit they believe they can create appropriate predation barriers. With that assurance I’ve approved a spring order for an initial delivery of 12 cedar trees for ‘first step’ installation of the Garden.

3. Employment Search. In 2018, I proposed to the Faculty Senate executive committee that we move forward with a search process for a permanent Vice President for Research & Creative Activity. The executive committee offered feedback that doing so should be deferred until a permanent Provost was in place, and I agreed to do so. 

Earlier this year, we also had a vacancy in the Dean of the Graduate School position, which similarly needed to wait until the new provost was appointed. However, in the interim, a faculty-led study group led by Dr. Kimberly Wallin has been studying whether a common national model of combining the research and graduate organizations would be appropriate at NDSU. We are awaiting the final report from the committee, and then the provost and I will thoroughly consider both scenarios. 

Either way, a full, national search will be conducted for the position(s). Now that we have a permanent provost, we need to have a resolution for these other positions as soon as possible. 

4. Thanksgiving Break. Cases continue to increase dramatically across the country, and public health officials are encouraging people not to travel for Thanksgiving. Traveling and attending family gatherings will be a sure way of spreading the virus, particularly to older, more vulnerable family members. In addition, we do not want students contracting the virus over the break and returning to campus with it.

We are asking all students to stay in Fargo over the break. To make that easier, we are keeping the residence halls open at no additional cost to the students. In addition, we are expanding our dining options so that we will be having good food options every single day of break. Students only need to notify Residence Life staff about staying. You can find the form here

If, however, you do intend to travel over the break (whether student or employee), be responsible and get a test before you go and after you return. Please remember, even if you feel fine, you may be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, and you could be responsible for getting others sick. Nobody wants to be responsible for that. To help facilitate testing, in addition to this week’s regular testing (see Item No. 3 below), NDSU is making testing the week before and after Thanksgiving easier by adding testing dates:

            1-5 p.m. on Nov. 19

            1-5 p.m. Nov. 21. This Saturday event is a holiday specific additional date

            1-4 p.m. Nov. 22

            1-4 p.m. Nov. 29       

            1-5 p.m. Dec. 2 This Wednesday event is an additional holiday specific date

            1-5 p.m. Dec. 3

            1-4 p.m. Dec. 6

All events are at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, entering through the south doors. Please note that we will not be offering tests on Thanksgiving, even though it is a Thursday.

5. Testing Information. Last week, we collectively had 1,606 people tested at the SHAC with a positivity rate of 7%. Of those tested, 812 indicated an affiliation with NDSU, and their positivity rate was 7.3%. Both positivity rates were considerably lower than the Cass County rate for that time period which was approximately 17%.           

6. Weekly Testing. We’re continuing with weekly testing at the SHAC, and you should enter using the south doors. Please see Item No. 4 above for the dates and times. 

Student government is running another drawing for Visa gift cards for students who get tested this week. First place is $250 and there are five additional $100 winners. 

We would like every employee to get tested at least every other week. However, if you are working in an area with significant exposure to others, it would be better to get tested every week. As always, being tested at these events should be considered work time, and I’m asking supervisors to be flexible to allow for employee testing.

Some final points about testing:

• Testing is free.

• You can preregister here. However, if you have already registered for a prior testing event, you do not have to re-register. 

• It is not limited to people living on campus. All students, including off-campus students, are encouraged to participate.

• You do not have to have symptoms in order to get this testing. In fact, this testing is only for individuals who are asymptomatic. If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact Student Health Service or your local health care facility to determine next steps.

Dean L. Bresciani, President

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