WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 18, 2010, 08:47 AM

New presidents improve the relationship between ND's largest universities

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) – It is a new era for North Dakota's biggest universities. After years of a somewhat cold relationship between the administrations at NDSU and UND, new faces at the helm are warming things up. The new united front could be great news for students.

It's a sight that's never been seen on NDSU before: A massive UND coach bus carrying that university's president and administrators, swinging through on their 3-day statewide tour. But the bigger rarity: the two leaders working together which was not the case with the universities' former leaders.

KEITH BJERKE: "Early on it was not real good, I think with the advent of President Kelley it's warmed up 900 degrees!"

DR. DEAN BRESCIANI/NDSU PRESIDENT: "We really hit it off! It was like we had checked each other out before hand."

Since he started last month, Bresciani has been at the Kelley's at UND for dinner and the two frequently talk, looking at growing the universities together.

DR. BRESCIANI: "I think we connect in a way that I don't think it was the case in the past."

And this new relationship has already resulted in changes: The two energetic leaders are working on a collaborative master's program.

DR. ROBERT KELLEY: "Combined university degree! A student can take classes at both institutions and get a master's of public health."

DR. BRESCIANI: "By bringing the strengths of our pharmacy program together with the college of medicine at UND combining those, we're able to create a degree that neither university could do on its own."

But even amidst the hand-shaking, a long-standing rivalry still exists, and both want to see it played out soon.

DR. KELLEY: "And if we could figure out the football conference, it would be great to get on the football field sooner rather than later."

DR. BRESCIANI: "We want this to just be the beginning."

The two are also working on getting researchers at the universities to collaborate together.