If you follow developments in higher education, you'll want to mark June 28 on your calendar. That's Thursday next week, nine days away. The Board of Higher Education meets that day at Bismarck State College. The agenda hadn't been set when I checked with the university system office late last week, but the UND president's contract, plus several others, are set for review.
An adage, my dictionary says, is a short statement expressing a general truth, and here is an example a grade school teacher taught me: If you don't like the weather in North Dakota, wait a minute. Last week's weather proved the point, and it occurred to me that this adage could apply to politics as well. A month ago Republicans were confident of a clean sweep on the North Dakota ballot in November, but contrary winds have begun to blow.
Only half of the yellow-bellied sapsucker's name is appropriate—the sapsucker half. The other half is not descriptive; whatever yellow might occur on the bird's belly is obscure and not helpful in identifying the species, though it does play a small role in separating it from its close relatives, the red-naped and red-bellied sapsuckers, whose names are equally unhelpful as aids in identification. Physical characteristics aren't a factor in the name of the fourth North American sapsucker species, Williamson's.
Tom Clifford would be approaching 100 years of age if he were still with us. Clifford was born in 1921 and died on Feb. 4, 2009, just six weeks short of his 88th birthday. The Herald's obituary called him "a dominating presence at UND for a half century." Clifford was UND's president for 21 years, from 1971 to 1992. His influence continues today. Clifford's presidency is recalled with nostalgia and every successor — five of them — has been judged by the Clifford standard.
The ruddy turnstone is another of those drop-in birds, like last week's bird, the Blackburnian warbler; not a resident here, but sometimes a guest. Also like the warbler, the turnstone is a bird to make an impression. The turnstone came to my attention last week when Herald Outdoor Editor Brad Dokken forwarded an email from Bruce Nikle. Nikle sent excellent pictures of what was obviously a ruddy turnstone sitting on a rock at Devils Lake; obviously a turnstone because turnstones are unmistakable.
Recent goings on at UND have brought an outpouring of nostalgia for Tom Clifford, former university president. His tenure at the helm of UND lasted more than two decades, from 1971 to 1992, pretty much coinciding with the college years of those now most involved in state and local affairs. We are all at one time young and impressionable, and every succeeding president has been held to the Clifford standard.
As soon as I read the email, I knew what species would be bird of the week. The message read, "I'm in Grand Forks. Could I have seen a Blackburnian warbler?" Yes is the answer, and yes, it's a great sighting!
This year's election campaign in North Dakota has shifted, perhaps significantly. The issue had seemed to be Donald Trump and which candidate supported him while keeping North Dakota issues in mind. This allowed Republicans to play offense, launching criticism of Democratic candidates — especially incumbent U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp — for not being pro-Trump enough. It also meant the campaign would most likely be part of a national campaign decided mostly on national issues. In such a campaign, support of the president would be a measuring stick.
A couple of weeks ago, I admitted to being a voyeur since I had gone off to watch the sharp-tailed grouse dance. Today, I confess to being a repeat offender. Unlike my observation of grouse, however, this didn't involve an early morning excursion. In this case, I simply looked up from the burgers sizzling on the grill. I had a marvelous view of brown-headed cowbirds involved in their spring business.
There's a lot to see in North Dakota, including wide open spaces, expansive vistas and distant horizons, but there aren't many monumental landscapes, the kind that we humans create to express our aspirations and celebrate our achievements. I can think of three, the state capitol grounds, the approach to Valley City State University from downtown and the UND campus.