The retirement reception for Phil Harmeson, previously set for Saturday, Oct. 12, has been postponed to April 18.
Harmeson joined UND in 1983, after earning his law degree from the UND School of Law, as Associate Director of the Bureau of Governmental Affairs. He was appointed as an adjunct in the Department of Accounting and Business Law to teach Business Law courses as well.
While at the Bureau of Governmental Affairs, Director Lloyd Omdahl and Harmeson assisted state and local government entities in all matters of public policy and planning. Additionally, they grew the polling component of the Bureau into a premier public opinion operation. Their work became a canon by which news outlets throughout the state, region, and nation relied upon for reliable forecasts on all matter of public policy and elections in the North Dakota. He was an on-air commentator and election night analyst from 1984-2014 for regional and statewide television networks.
Harmeson became a full- time tenured faculty member. He continued to be active in public affairs as a consultant to various organizations representing state and local government entities. His use of public opinion polls as a long-range policy planning device for governmental entities as well as private entities resulted in him coordinating scores of polls during his more than 36 years of service at UND.
He was appointed Associate Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration while still teaching classes. He was named Faculty Athletic Representative in 1999. In 2000 he was named Senior Associate to the President by President Charles Kupchella. Being involved in governmental affairs locally, UND’s daily representative in Bismarck during legislative sessions, as well as frequent communications with federal agencies on behalf of UND and coordination of matters in Washington, D.C. filled out his governmental affairs portfolio. His position as Senior Associate to the President evolved into him being named Vice President for General Administration in 2007 by President Kupchella, where for a time he was the Interim Director of Athletics. Throughout his time on the President’s Cabinet he could be counted upon during policy discussions to ask what impact a given decision would have first and foremost on the students, and secondly on the primary shareholders of UND – – the taxpayers.
His work with the Department of Defense assisted UND in being named an “Outstanding Citizen” by the US Air Force. He was an Honorary Commander at the GFAFB at the squadron, group, and wing level ultimately being appointed for a time as the Honorary Commander of the Grand Forks Air Force Base (wing).
Harmeson served as a Commissioner on the inaugural Alerus Center Commission. He, along with his wife, Bonnie, were founding members of the Grand Forks Master Chorale where he also served as a founding member of the board. He also served for 20 years as the State Coordinator for “We the People – the Citizen and the Constitution,” a national educational competition.
In 2009, Harmeson returned to the classroom. It is there where he continued a teaching career where he was consistently rated by students to be among the best in-class teachers at UND. He began a phased retirement four years ago, ultimately retiring June 30 of this year. His greatest pleasure at UND was the chance to have an impact on UND’s greatest resource – – the students.