For the students

VPFO Alice Brekke retires after 39 years; reception set for Monday

Alice Brekke

Alice Brekke, vice president for finance & operations, will retire after 39 years of service to UND. A reception in her honor is set for Monday, Aug. 6. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Alice Brekke has always focused on students and teamwork.

From floods to finances, Brekke, vice president for finance & operations, has worked behind the scenes to ensure that UND is on firm footing – and that the campus is a safe, welcoming place.

Brekke will retire Aug. 10 after 39 years of service to the University.

A reception in her honor is set for 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, at the Gorecki Alumni Center.

Throughout her tenure, Brekke has kept one thing in mind: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

“I had a wonderful opportunity to be part of a team at key points in the University’s development,” she said. She is especially proud of helping develop the research enterprise, and of working to transition the Energy & Environmental Research Center, once a federal entity, to become a campus department. Flood recovery, new buildings and renovations, legislative sessions, software implementations and more stand out in her memory.

A large portfolio

For the past nine years, Brekke led the finance and operations division, which includes financial operations, public safety, human resources/payroll services, facilities, affirmative action/equal opportunity employment, records management, and the Chester Fritz Auditorium.

It’s a big job. To facilitate a smooth transition, Brekke agreed to serve in a phased retirement role.

Alice Brekke

Alice Brekke, then budget director, gave frequent updates during legislative sessions. Here, she is with President Emeritus Charles Kupchella in 2001. Photo by Chuck Kimmerle.

Since 1979

Brekke, who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accountancy from UND, has been with the University since 1979. She began her career as an accountant in the Engineering Experiment Station.  She was then promoted to assistant to the dean at the College of Engineering & Mines, then was named business manager for the EERC and later director of grants and contracts. Brekke served as the budget office director in addition to her grants and contracts responsibilities before having assistant to the President added to her responsibilities. She was named vice president in 2009.

“Alice has been a pillar of strength for the University during her many years of dedicated service and deserves our appreciation,” said UND President Mark Kennedy. “She personifies what it means to be a professional. She is intelligent, thoughtful, innovative, caring and committed to elevating the interests of the university. The high degree of trust and respect for her not only within the university and the Grand Forks community, but also amongst state leaders, made her highly effective in advancing priorities that have been vital to UND’s success. Alice will be missed. She has indeed made us UND Proud.”

“Alice has been an exemplary administrative leader,” said Bill Sheridan, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Biology, who has known her since she was working in the grants and contracts office. “Alice is a thoughtful and fair-minded person of the highest moral integrity. The faculty respect Alice and have throughout her long career. I much admire Alice’s courage, which she exhibited both prior to and since becoming vice president for finance and operations.”

“Alice has been an incredible resource for me and many others at UND,” said Debbie Storrs, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “I particularly appreciated Alice’s ability to provide thoughtful context and her practice of seeking out and considering multiple perspectives when making decisions. Her integrity, commitment to collaboration, and dedication has had lasting impact on our institution.”

“Throughout the 27 years I’ve worked with Alice, she has always seen more in me than I saw in myself,” said Cindy Fetsch, budget manager. “She identified early on my skills and gave me a chance to prove my worth at UND. She converted my mistakes into lessons, pressures into productivity, and skills into strengths. I am proud to be led by a boss and mentor like Alice.”

“Alice laid the foundation for the successful transformation of the Department of Public Safety into a national leader in campus safety,” said Eric Plummer, associate vice president for public safety and UND police chief. “It has been an honor to work with a leader that understands and fosters healthy change within the organization.”

“I’ve worked with Alice for many years,” said Mark Johnson, director of operations for facilities. “When she had to make a decision, she always looked at what was best for UND, not the individual or the department. I’ve always admired that about her.”

Crediting others

Brekke is quick to credit others for successes.

“The job has never been about me,” she said. “I have been blessed with a wonderful family who is also passionate about UND. That makes things a lot easier.”

Brekke and her husband David, who recently retired from EERC, plan to relocate to Castle Rock, Colo., where they have family. During retirement, she plans to spend time with family and friends, research her ancestry, and indulge her passion for cooking.  Travel is also on the agenda.

“I believe the future is bright for UND,” she said. “My wish is that the pride and passion that people feel for this institution shines through. And that people embrace change. That is our reality.”

If you go:
Alice Brekke retirement reception
3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 6
Gorecki Alumni Center