NDSU professor Mark Strand tells of plans for term on ND State Health Council

On Jan. 11, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum appointed Mark Strand to a three-year term on the North Dakota State Health Council

Appointed by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, NDSU’s Mark Strand, a professor in the School of Pharmacy and the Department of Public Health at NDSU, will serve a three-year term on the North Dakota State Health Council.

The council establishes standards, rules and regulations necessary for the maintenance of public health and monitors the quality of health care in North Dakota. It serves as the North Dakota Department of Health’s governing and advisory body.

“Your willingness to share your time and perspective is valuable as we advance the interests of our state. The Health Council will benefit greatly from your diligent work as you help fulfill its mission and duties while also enhancing its capabilities,” wrote Governor Burgum in the letter of appointment to Strand.

Strand’s background in education, work and experiences make him a qualified fit to be appointed to the State Health Council.

After spending his childhood in North Dakota, Strand decided to begin his college education at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. There he graduated with a Master’s degree in Biology and with a certification in education and coaching.

He then went on to earn his Master of Science degree in Cell and Developmental Biology in 1991. Strand finished his college education at the University of Colorado Denver in 2003 with a PhD in Health and Behavioral Science and was awarded a research grant for dissertation research.

In 1994, he also earned an Associate’s degree in Arts for Mandarin Chinese at Xinzhou Teachers University.

As far as work experience, Strand spent over five years as the Executive Director at Evergreen where he partnered with Chinese entities to provide professional services to China in the areas of medicine and public health, education, agriculture, orphan care, business incubation and global consulting.

For ten years, he has devoted himself to serving the people of North Dakota through his work at NDSU, educating students and doing research and program implementation to improve the health of the residents in North Dakota.

“This is my duty as a native son of North Dakota,” said Strand. “It is also my responsibility due to the land grant mission of NDSU, which is to serve the people of North Dakota.”

On a more personal level, Strand says he has had the opportunity to work with local public health departments across the state over the years. “I see how hard they work to serve their communities.”

With COVID-19 taking hold in North Dakota since 2020, people who work in these health departments have had to work even harder to protect their communities. However, the measures taken to protect people across the state received some backlash from residents.

“During COVID, many of these same people have been derided by their own community members because of actions they have taken to protect people from contracting COVID,” said Strand. “This really disturbed me, because it suggested that we had perhaps lost the vision of the social contract, and were unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the common good.

This motivated Strand to accept the invitation to apply for a position on the State Health Council, in hopes that he could speak for the people of North Dakota, and the public health professionals across North Dakota, to improve the state’s approach to population health.

“At this time, public service is very difficult because of the challenge of bringing people of diverse viewpoints together,” said Strand. “But I am willing to do my part to try and draw upon the good will of the people, to improve communication and help us as a state move forward in pursuit of good health together.”

During his three-year term on the council, Strand says that in his first year he will clarify what his responsibility is and observe. His second year, he plans to try his best to contribute to the conversation and to the decisions that are being made.

In particular, he wants to “advance the notion” that North Dakota can be the state with the healthiest people in the country. According to America’s Health Rankings in 1999, North Dakota was ranked the healthiest state in the country, but they have now slipped to 14.

Strand’s three-year term on the council extends until July 31, 2024.

Leave a Reply