|U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan to give main address at UND's spring general commencement on Saturday, at the Alerus Center|
UND graduate and United States senator from North Dakota, Byron L. Dorgan, will give the main address at UND’s general commencement Saturday, 1:30 p.m., in the Alerus Center. More than 1,600 students, including law and medical, in separate events, are eligible to cross the stage when UND President Robert O. Kelley presides over his first UND spring commencement ceremonies. On average, UND graduates about 2,700 students in the summer, winter and spring.
At the general ceremony, UND will award two honorary Doctor of Letters degrees, one to Edwin Benson, known as the living history book of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes; and LaVonne Russell Hootman, an innovator in nursing education who helped found UND's Recruitment and Retention of American Indians into Nursing (RAIN) program. UND will award its highest honor for faculty, the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorships to Jonathan Geiger, professor and chair of pharmacology, physiology & therapeutics; Michael Mann, professor and chair of chemical engineering; and Kathleen A. Tiemann, professor and chair of sociology and director of women studies.
In addition to the general commencement, the UND School of Law will holds its commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., this Saturday in the Chester Fritz Auditorium. Peter Pantaleo, New York managing partner of DLA Piper, is the speaker.
The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences will hold its commencement ceremonies Saturday, at 2 p.m., in the Chester Fritz Auditorium. Dr. Stephen Tinguely, associate professor and chair of pediatrics at the UND School of Medicine in Fargo, is the Medical School commencement speaker.
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan
Byron L. Dorgan was re-elected to a third term in the U.S. Senate in November 2004 with nearly 70 percent of the vote after serving two previous terms in the Senate and six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Since 1996, he has served in the Democratic Leadership as an Assistant Democratic Floor Leader, and since 1998, also as Chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy committee. He is the first North Dakotan to serve in the Senate Leadership.
In addition, Sen. Dorgan serves on four other Senate Committees. He is Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee within the Appropriations Committee. Also, he is a senior member of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he chairs the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee.
Sen. Dorgan conceived and created the Red River Valley Research Corridor, an effort to connect North Dakota's world class colleges and universities to federal high tech research and training efforts. The effort not only strengthens the nation, but also expands economic growth in North Dakota by bringing high tech federal research and training projects to North Dakota's institutions of higher learning.
A 2006 study found that, since its creation in 2002, the Red River Valley Research Corridor has generated $759 million in positive economic impact and added thousands of jobs to the regional economy.
Sen. Dorgan is also working to position North Dakota to play a vital role in the nation's effort to achieve energy independence by reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil. He is working to make significant long-term investment in renewable fuels, such as bio-fuels, wind energy and ethanol. He is also working to develop clean coal technology, increase energy efficiency, and the use of hydrogen.
Sen. Dorgan is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America. This book, released in July of 2006, makes the case that exporting American jobs is a flawed long-term economic strategy that is turning into an economic disaster.
Sen. Dorgan was born in Dickinson and raised in the farming community of Regent, N.D. His family worked in the farm equipment and petroleum business and raised cattle and horses. He graduated from a high school class of nine students. He is married to Kim Dorgan and has four children: Scott, Shelly (deceased), Brendon, and Haley.
He received his Bachelor of Science degree from UND and earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Denver. He later worked for a Denver-based aerospace firm.
Sen. Dorgan's public service career began at age 26, when he was appointed to the office of State Tax Commissioner in North Dakota. He was the youngest constitutional officer in North Dakota's history. He was re-elected to that office by large margins in 1972 and 1976, and was chosen one of "Ten Outstanding State Officials" in the United States by the Washington Monthly magazine.
Edwin Benson, with his intimate knowledge of the culture, customs, and stories of the three TribesMandan, Hidatsa, and Arikaraliving on the Fort Berthold Reservation, is widely considered by to be a living history book, a great teacher, and bridge through time. In his own language, Benson is known as I-Numak, which simply means The Man.
Benson has been employed since 1991 at the Twin Buttes School to teach the Mandan language to children. In 1996, at age 67, he received his Educators Professional Certificate from the state of North Dakota to teach Native American Studies. He currently teaches K-8.
One of the letters of recommendation said: His knowledge of our collective history, music, stories, values, customs, and beliefs is so very precious to all of us who regard him as a national treasure of our people. The knowledge that he carries connects us all with our living history, our ancestors, and our homelands. But it is his rare knowledge of, and expertise in, the disappearing Mandan language that makes him the rarest gem of all: he is the only person on the entire planet who is qualified to teach this language, and he has dedicated the remaining years of life to ensuring that it is carried into the future by coming generations of Mandan children.
Another recommender among the several from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation to nominate Benson for the UND honorary degree said: To the people of Fort Berthold, Edwin embodies the best qualities one can inherit of Mandan life.
LaVonne Russell Hootman
LaVonne Russell Hootman earned her bachelors degree in 1954 and a certificate as a family nurse practioner in 1981, both from UND; a Masters degree in education in 1961 from the University of Minnesota; and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas-Austin in 1989. LaVonne served on the faculty of the UND College of Nursing from 1954 until her first retirement in 1994, and again in 1997-98 to direct the RAIN program, which she was instrumental in launching. She served as an assistant dean, acting dean, as associate dean, and other leadership roles during her tenure and was promoted to full professor in 1981.
Hootman is highly respected by her peers for her ongoing innovations in nursing education, such as teaching health assessment skills, developing the cooperative education course, and the ladder concept. She is recognized as instrumental in the conception, development, and ongoing success of the Recruitment and Retention of American Indians into Nursing (RAIN) program, a national model which has achieved unprecedented success over its 18 year history.
Hootman was appointed by the governor to the North Dakota Board of Nursing, where she served two terms, including time as Board President, as Vice President, and as Treasurer. She has also earned several major awards, including the Edgar Dale Award for distinguished teaching and service (UND, 1979); the North Dakota State Nurses Association Honorary Recognition Award (1980 and 1996); and induction into the North Dakota Nursing Association Hall of Fame (2004). In 1995, LaVonne, together with Loretta Heuer and Helen Kalsdorf, developed An Educational and Cultural Program: Nursing and Health Care in Russia/USA to provide a short-term cultural experience for student nurses.
One of the letters of recommendation said: Dr. Russell reached the pinnacle of her profession as evidenced by the impact she had on the College of Nursing faculty and students. Through her tenure, she initiated courses that remain to be a part of our current undergraduate nursing curriculum. Additionally, she changed the culture and environment of the College of Nursing through the development and implementation of the RAIN program.
Dr. Russell is well known and respected in the state of North Dakota and on regional reservations. Her scholarship in nursing and education fit well with the honorary doctoral degree. Dr. Russells nomination for an honorary degree is timely because 2009 marks 100 years of nursing at UND and 50 years since the founding of the College of Nursing.
-- David L. Dodds, Writer/Editor, Office of University Relations, 777-5529, firstname.lastname@example.org