UND General Info | UND Medical School | UND Discussion | Other Sites | Look Back


William Dando, a UND geography professor who has brought millions of dollars in research to the university, plans to leave in January to be chairman of the geography department at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

"Many of the dreams that I couldn't fulfill here, I hope I'll be able to fulfill there," Dando said Wednesday night.

He has been at UND since 1975, establishing a reputation for his knowledge and research dealing with drought, famine, agriculture and the Soviet Union. He tried unsuccessfully this year to land a major federal grant to study the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in the Soviet Union. Dando also has been trying to establish an early-warning famine report system and a remote-sensing program for long-range climate and world crop forecasting.

Dando, 54, hasn't submitted a formal letter of resignation, but he told UND Geograpy Chairman John Wyckoff on Wednesday that he will resign after Jan. 1.

Wyckoff said, "I'm sad to see him go. I think most of the university will be. He's been an extremely productive and outstanding faculty member."

Wyckoff credited Dando with bringing in "millions" in research dollars. Currently, Dando is the leader or a major partner in more than $700,000 worth of geography research.

Dando didn't give details about his pay, but he confirmed a report by Wyckoff that he will double his salary at Indiana State. The amount of his salary at UND was not immediately available.

Wyckoff said Dando turned down an earlier offer from Indiana State. Then Indiana offered him more money, he said.

Dando will chair a combine geography and geology department with 22 people -- three times the size of the UND geography department. He also will direct a remote sensing institute that he described as one of the largest in the country. The center working with satellite and high-altitude jet data is jointly run by Indiana State and Purdue University. The remote-sensing facilities made the Indiana State offer particularly attractive, Dando said.

He said that announcing his resignation from UND was "one of the most difficult decisions of my life." He said UND didn't have the research facilities and support for him to develop the projects he wants to in drought and famine research, remote sensing and geography-related medical work.

"A series of events recently have led me to conclude that if I really feel I can make a contribution in my areas ... if I can use geography as a social tool ... then I better find a place to do it."

He didn't elaborate on "the series of event" that contributed to his decision to leave. Dando emphasized, "It's hard to be angry at the university you love."

Dando said he had no comment on the sealed-down version of a UND earth systems science building approved recently by a US Senate-House conference committee. Because of compromise cuts in the federal ag spending bill,the proposed $8.2 million project will be cut in half -- and the project planners have mentioned reducing the geography department's share of the building as a result.

Although Dando didn't relate that event to his decision to resign after this semester, he expressed disappointment earlier this year when a major project fell through in Washington. Sen. Quentin Burdick had announced an appropriation for a research project based on the Chernobyl disaster, but the U.S. Agriculture Department turned down Dando's proposal. Subsequent attempts to revive it failed. The geography department focused instead on the earth systems science building now proposed as an addition to the UND Center for Aerospace Sciences.

Dando came to UND from the University of Maryland. He is a native of Newell, Pa., and got his master's and doctoral degrees in geography from the University of Minnesota during the 1960s. Among his best-known courses at UND have been weather and climate, food and famine, and regional geography of the Soviet Union.

Through most of his years with UND, Dando has made trips to the Soviet Union. Last spring, he led a group of students and Grand Forks junior and senior high social studies teachers on a geographical field trip along the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

Dando said he hoped the Indiana State geography department could do some cooperative projects with UND. One that UND, Montana State and Indiana State already are currently discussing is a $1 million research project dealing with the forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, he said.

Dando's wife, Caroline, is a lecturer in the English Department at UND. Their two daughters, Christina and Lara, both studied geography at UND. Their son, William, is a student at Grand Forks Central High School.

"It's going to be hard to leave," Dando said.

Source: Grand Forks Herald, September 29, 1988