Meet the Armacosts: On the western edge

Andy and Kathy Armacost welcomed by alumni and friends in Minot, Watford City, Williston and New Town

“Meet the Armacosts” events, as they are billed, are coordinated and supported by the UND Alumni Association & Foundation. They’re as much a chance for the Armacosts to become familiar with their new home state as they are for alumni and other friends of UND to meet the new President and First Lady, who’ve been largely confined to Grand Forks during their first year at UND due to the global pandemic. Photo by David Dodds/UND Today.

It was officially the farthest west that UND President Andy Armacost and First Lady Kathy Armacost had ever traveled in North Dakota.

But on the western edge, at least one aspect of the state remain unchanged — the welcomes the Armacosts received were as warm as the record-breaking heat hitting the region.

Last week, the Armacosts’ latest tour of North Dakota straddled U.S. Highway 2 through Minot and the state highways around New Town, Watford City and Williston.

These “Meet the Armacosts” events, as they are billed, are coordinated and supported by the UND Alumni Association & Foundation. They’re as much a chance for the Armacosts to become familiar with their new home state as they are for alumni and other friends of UND to meet the new President and First Lady, who’ve been largely confined to Grand Forks during their first year at UND due to the global pandemic. Earlier this summer, “Meet the Armacosts” events were held in Grand Forks and Fargo, Bismarck and Dickinson, among other stops.

The Watford City “Meet the Armacosts” gathering took place at the home of UND alumni couple Kira (Stenehjem) and Greg Noll. Helping Kira host the event was her UND alum father Steve Stenehjem and mother, Gretchen, pictured above with the Armacosts. Photo by Milo Smith, AA&F.

Straddling U.S. Highway 2

Tuesday saw the Armacosts stop in Minot for a luncheon at the Badlands Restaurant & Bar, where they visited with local alumni that included John Stewart, a 1978 accounting grad and former UND basketball player, and other friends of UND.

Next, it was off to the bustling western North Dakota town of Watford City for a tour of the McKenzie County hub in the heart of oil country. The Armacosts capped the day off with a visit to the home of UND alumni couple Kira (Stenehjem) and Greg Noll and a gathering of guests eager to “meet the Armacosts.” Helping Kira host the event was her UND alum father Steve Stenehjem and mother, Gretchen. About 30 people attended and heard President Armacost give a few campus updates before taking questions. He also shared his personal leadership philosophy, beginning with “Love your people — take care of them, and allow them to grow and provide them the support they need to be successful,” he said.

About 50 alumni and friends attended the Williston “Meet the Armacosts” event, which took place on a warm sunny evening in the beautiful backyard pool and garden area of UND alumni Pat and Tammy Sogard. Photo by David Dodds/UND Today.

Day 2 of the Armacosts’ western North Dakota tour led them to Williston, just north of the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea. The home of UND alumni Pat and Tammy Sogard served as the host site for this gathering. Pat Sogard, currently chairman of the board of the American State Bank & Trust Co., is one of the newest additions to UND Alumni Association & Foundation’s Board of Directors.

(Left to right) UND Alumni Association & Foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink, Pat Sogard, Tammy Sogard, UND First Lady Kathy Armacost and UND President Andy Armacost. Pat Sogard is one of the newest additions to UND Alumni Association & Foundation’s Board of Directors. Photo by David Dodds/UND Today.

Trophy talk

About 50 alumni and friends attended the Williston event, which took place on a warm sunny evening in the Sogards’ beautiful backyard pool and garden area. As was the case at past “Meet the Armacosts” events, trophies earned by UND athletics teams served as center pieces of discussions and photo opportunities. This time around,  the National Collegiate Hockey Association’s (NCHC) Penrose Cup, presented each year to the NCHC’s regular season champ, and the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Tournament Trophy (both most recently won by UND) were joined by the Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship Trophy.

On the final day of the tour, the Armacosts headed to New Town on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation of the Three Affiliated Tribes (MHA Nation — Manda, Hidatsa, Arikara) to visit Chairman Mark Fox and Councilwoman Dr. Monica Mayer M.D., both of whom are UND alumni. The Armacosts were joined by colleagues from the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, UND’s Indians into Medicine program and the UND Public Health Department (see accompanying story in this issue of UND Today for more details of this visit.)