Always Homecoming for Cassie Gerhardt

Recognized nationally, UND’s associate dean of students boasts passion for UND ‘round the clock

Cassie Gerhardt

Cassie Gerhardt, UND associate dean of students and alumna, recently received a national distinguished service award from the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors at a conference in Boston. Photo by Shawna Schill.

Lots of people have stories about Cassie Gerhardt. And they all revolve around her passion for UND.

When the Fighting Hawks nickname was announced, said Blake Andert, student body vice president, Gerhardt was the first person to sport a custom license plate: UNDHWKS.

“I had plates picked out for each of the finalist names,” Gerhardt said. “The Fighting Hawks name was announced at 10:05 and I had the form in the mail by 10:25.”

“She’s passionate about UND and she brings that dedication to serving students,” Andert said. “She has a close pulse on how students feel. She constantly connects with students, and she puts the needs and wants of students first. UND is fortunate to have her.”

Now the country is recognizing what a special resource Gerhardt is for UND. Just last week, Gerhardt, the associate dean of students, received a national distinguished service award from the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors at a conference in Boston. It’s one of many awards she’s received, and just one more piece of evidence of her dedication to students.

Exudes school pride

Most people organize their closets by color, said Laurie Betting, interim vice president for student affairs. “Cassie’s closet only has green and pink.”

That’s pretty close, said Gerhardt, who is known for wearing those school colors. “I bleed pink and green, and wear my school spirit. I’ve gotten more from UND than I’ve given, and I’m trying to pay UND back.”

She’s also known for being available night, day and on weekends. Gerhardt describes her job as serving students, and works closely with student government, Greek life, student organizations, parent programs, Welcome Weekend, and crisis response, among other duties.

“Her love of this institution and her loyalty stand out,” Betting said. “Her job title should be ‘And Other Duties as Assigned.’ From working with Greek students to helping students navigate regulations, she will do anything for anyone at any time. She’s always looking out for the best interests of UND and the students. She’s a role model for so many people.”

UND just wouldn’t be the same without her, said Kim Layman, a senior psychology major from Hudson, Wis., who serves as president of the Panhellenic Council.

“She’s the biggest personality I’ve ever met,” said Layman, who has never forgotten Gerhardt’s talk during freshman orientation. “She gave a presentation and told us how much we’d love this place in four years. I didn’t buy it then.” But she was right, Layman said, adding that she will miss UND and Gerhardt after graduation. “She’s a joy to be around. She brings positivity to every room.”

Experience and tradition

Gerhardt’s goal is to ensure that today’s students have the same experience she had, said Cara Halgren, dean of students. “She’s incredibly passionate with lots of great ideas,” she said. “She’s always striving to make things better for our students.”

“When I came to campus, I was lucky to be embraced by a lot of people who cared about me and pushed me to be better than I realized I could be,” Gerhardt said. “I figured out how to be Cassie Gerhardt. I want to do the same for students.”

Gerhardt, who is originally from Mandan, N.D., earned undergraduate degrees in political science and secondary education from UND. She earned her master’s degree in college student development at Oklahoma State, where she also met her husband, Brad Parrish, assistant dean for student life at the UND School of Law. After working at Arizona State for three years, she returned to UND in 2002, and has also earned her doctorate in educational leadership at the University.

“I’ve worked at other institutions,” said Gerhardt. “UND is special. People care about the community here. From deans to custodians, dining services to faculty and students, people care about the experience and traditions.”

“Our alumni come home once a year for Homecoming,” said Gerhardt. “Every time I come to work, it’s kind of a homecoming. I truly love this place.”