|Phil Jackson to return to UND|
Legendary National Basketball Association coach Phil Jackson will return to his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, in August to help the University celebrate its 125th anniversary. The 1967 UND graduate will also receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at a special Aug. 25 convocation open to the public, and he will spend part of his time at UND visiting with students.
Jackson, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, is the NBA leader in playoff victories and winning percentage. He has won a total of nine NBA championships as a head coach, six with the Chicago Bulls and three with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also won an NBA championship as a player with the New York Knicks, who drafted him following his graduation from UND.
The quintessential student-athlete who led the University to the national tournament two years in a row while majoring in psychology, philosophy, and religion, Jackson is widely is known for his creative intelligence as a coach and as the author of five best-selling books, including Maverick (1975) and Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior (1995).
“I am very appreciative of this honor. It will be delightful to return to the campus to join UND faculty, students and friends for this important occasion,” said Phil.
"What great news! Phil Jackson is a sports legend and an icon ... and he is one of ours. Noteworthy is the fact that he exemplifies the ideal of the scholar-athlete in such a visible way, blending athletics and the life of the mind. I am delighted that he will be here in August to receive the honorary degree awarded to him earlier," said President Charles Kupchella.
"Phil is a great example of how a liberal arts education prepares graduates for a broad range of pursuits and careers. His education in philosophy and psychology has served him well in his role as coach, leader and author. We are proud of his accomplishments both on and off the court and are delighted to be awarding him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree," said Martha Potvin, dean of the UND College of Arts and Sciences.
“Phil’s achievements have possibly made him the most recognized North Dakotan around the world, and we are very proud of his UND background. For those of us who were a part of the University when he was a student athlete, we’ve always recognized him as an academic first and foremost. I know he will inspire our current students to reach beyond conventional expectations in setting high standards for their futures. Phil is one of the best examples of an Arts and Sciences graduate our University has -- he is a published author, industry leader, great thinker and motivational speaker. As a UND alumnus, he is a tremendous ambassador for a UND education and for the dreams students at our University achieve,” said Tim O'Keefe, executive vice president of the UND Alumni Association and UND Foundation.