Letter from the SBHE Chancellor regarding the UND nickname
Dear Dr. Kelley:
I want to convey to you my appreciation for the leadership you have provided and continue to provide to the University of North Dakota. Expectations and challenges are many on a day-today basis as you lead the important work of UND.
UND is rich in its heritage of education, and its research continues to playa vital role in determining the future ofthe state of North Dakota, the region and the country. UND also is a critical component of the North Dakota University System. The university possesses many valued resources, namely intellectual capacity, research capacity, an outstanding learning environment and an exceptional student body. The intangible assets of UND are many, all of which create a public confidence that will serve the university for many years to come.
The purpose of this communication is to renew my support to you and your administration as you continue to lead the university during resolution of the issues surrounding the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. A primary concern of mine is that this situation is impacting the day-to-day operations ofthe university and is about much more than athletics. It is a problem that impacts all aspects of the university.
The focus of the nickname and logo debate has been on the area of athletics. I understand, as you do, that the outcome of this issue will deeply impact athletics. Resolution timelines are uncertain, conference acceptance is uncertain and scheduling of athletic events at the conference level is questionable - all of which lead to an impossible situation for your coaching staff. A change in the logo and nickname would necessitate much advance work related to uniforms and other associated items. I also wa~t to acknowledge the impact this issue has had on scheduling competitions with other universities and recruiting student athletes.
This issue is causing divisiveness among faculty as well. The academy should be a setting for debate, an environment that fosters discussion, dialogue and the search for truth but the nickname issue has become so much a part ofthe campus culture. It is influencing the environment ofteaching, learning and necessary social interaction.
With this in mind, my primary concern is for students in general, American Indian students in particular and for UND's future and student recruitment. I am concerned about student, parent and public perceptions, within and outside of North Dakota. I also am concerned about how this issue has been shifted to the Sioux Tribes and has caused divisiveness across the reservations and among families.
Dr. Kelley, you need to know that by defining this issue from my perspective, I am demonstrating my awareness of its impact on the university. I will continue to support your efforts to work through this issue, and I hope it is resolved within a period of several weeks.
I encourage you to continue giving the needed support to your administration, faculty, students and the general public and to continue focusing on the primary role of the university and its strengths.
I offer you my best wishes and my continued support for your leadership and the fine work you are doing for the University of North Dakota.
William Goetz, Chancellor, State Board of Higher Education