Virtual groundbreaking for UND’s Nistler College of Business & Public Administration is set for FRIDAY, Oct. 9

Rendering of the new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration. Image courtesy of JLG Architects.

A virtual groundbreaking for UND’s new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration will take place at 11:30 a.m., FRIDAY, Oct. 9, as part of UND’s Homecoming festivities.

The building and college are named for donors Werner and Colleen Nistler, who donated the lead gift toward construction of a new College of Business & Public Administration building on campus.

The new, $70 million building, which will replace the aging Gamble Hall, resulted from a remarkable partnership of donors, the State Legislature, the City of Grand Forks, and others. The State Legislature agreed to create a $20 million matching fund. Later, the Grand Forks Growth Fund approved a $1.3 million grant after the State Board of Higher Education approved a cost-free, 50-year lease to the City of Grand Forks for the creation of a workforce development center in the building.

Set on the corner of University Ave. and Centennial Drive, the building will be connected by skywalks to the Chester Fritz Library and Merrifield Hall. It will fit in with the historic heart of the UND campus, while the interior will be modern, clean and inviting. The building’s flexible spaces will create a student-focused experience, with opportunities for small group collaboration, interaction with faculty, and extensive digital connectivity.

Werner Nistler earned an accounting degree from UND in 1968, and grew up on a farm near Golva, N.D. and in nearby Beach, N.D. He and six of his nine siblings attended UND. He is founder and chairman and Colleen is vice chairperson of Touchmark, which owns 14 full-service senior living communities in 10 states and one Canadian province. This includes Touchmark communities in Bismarck and Fargo. The Nistlers have owned medical records processing companies, along with several other businesses. They also formed Touchmark Foundation, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to enhancing the well-being of senior citizens by providing nursing scholarships to aspiring students, distributing food boxes to seniors and families in need and funding university-based research.

“Our hope was to inspire others to join this effort,” Werner Nistler said when he was honored last year at Homecoming. “We wanted people to think, ‘Wait, if someone from outside the state can come forth with dollars like that as a tribute to the education they received at UND, we can step up too.’”

“Werner is just so proud of being from North Dakota,” said Colleen Nistler. “It was always in my mind that we would do something for the University of North Dakota.”

“The Nistlers are so very deserving of having the building and College named after them,” said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation (UNDAAF). “Their lead gift launched this project into high gear and helped convince state lawmakers to offer a $20 million matching fund as a public-private partnership.”

“Werner and Colleen are a remarkable example to our students for their business success and philanthropic spirit,” said Amy Henley, dean of the College. “Our students are going to take great pride in having the College named for such an outstanding alum.”