|Kent Conrad will speak at general commencement|
Kent Conrad, U.S. senator from North Dakota, will be the speaker at general commencement, Saturday, May 12, 1:30 p.m., Alerus Center.
Sen. Conrad has dedicated his life to serving the people of North Dakota, starting with his six years as North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner before his successful 1986 bid for the U.S. Senate. North Dakotans have sent Sen. Conrad to represent them in Washington, D.C. in five successive elections. His public service to North Dakota and the nation has won him acclaim for his effectiveness and budget acumen. Time magazine featured Sen. Conrad as one of “America’s Ten Best Senators,” The American magazine ranked him as one of "10 Most Economically Literate Members of Congress," and the Bismarck Tribune called Sen. Conrad “the most influential senator North Dakota has ever produced.”
A fifth-generation North Dakotan, Sen. Conrad was born in Bismarck and attended Roosevelt Elementary and Hughes Junior High. After serving as the North Dakota Tax Commissioner for six years, he was elected to the United States Senate on a platform of “Yes, We Can!” optimism and a common sense approach to federal policy.
During his 20 years as an advocate for North Dakota in Washington, D.C. Sen. Conrad helped write the 2002 Farm Bill, wrote health care policy that ensured continued access to hospitals in rural areas, and fought unfair trade practices that hurt North Dakota’s economy. He has introduced comprehensive energy legislation that would make the United States more energy independent. And his landmark economic development initiative, Marketplace for Entrepreneurs, is North Dakota’s signature effort to boost the state’s economy.
Sen. Conrad has bipartisan respect as an expert on federal budget matters and is considered a leading Congressional “deficit hawk.” With the Democrats winning the majority in the Senate in November, Sen. Conrad is now the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
More than 1,600 students are eligible to walk across the stage during what likely will be the last spring commencement presided over by President Charles Kupchella. He announced in January his intent to retire as early as Jan. 25, 2008, although he left the door open for staying on up to six months more to allow the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education time to find a successor.
Three faculty members will be named Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors, UND's highest honor for faculty: F. Richard Ferraro, Roger Melvold, and Stephen Wonderlich.
Honorary degrees will be awarded to internationally respected electrical engineer Russell Lefevre and North Dakota Museum of Art director Laurel Reuter.