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UND Alumni Association & Foundation uses contribution from local business to make 100th Homecoming celebration one to remember

Nursing Student Association
Members of the UND Nursing Student Association march down University Avenue on campus on Saturday, Oct. 15, in the annual Homecoming Day Parade – UND’s 100th Homecoming Celebration. Homecoming Week, this year, was made even more special because of generous contributions from businesses, such as Rydell Cars, allowing expanded marketing and advertising for the centennial celebration.

It was a weeklong party a century in the making at the University of North Dakota.

And thanks to a generous gift from a longtime UND supporter, the Alumni Association & Foundation was able to make the University’s 100th Homecoming celebration one that won’t be soon forgotten.

Rydell Cars, a longtime local business and supporter of all things UND, provided a financial contribution to the University that helped Homecoming organizers greatly expand their thinking when it came to planning this year’s events. In the past, Rydell Cars has provided vehicles for use in the annual UND Homecoming Parade.

This year, the business was asked to up its game as a first-ever exclusive title sponsor. And they didn’t disappoint.

“Rydell’s contribution allowed us to expand our marketing budget to make sure our alumni, the campus and the Greater Grand Forks community were not only informed, but excited, about our 100th anniversary celebration of Homecoming, said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation. “Thanks to their sponsorship, the 100th Homecoming celebration was a huge success.”

As a result of the contribution, Carlson Zink said the Alumni Association and Foundation’s outreach efforts led to many downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks businesses decorating their store windows with UND school colors in true town-and-gown fashion. The additional advertising got the community energized and it showed in increased attendance across the board at UND Homecoming events.

“I heard from a number of alumni throughout the weekend about how wonderful the Homecoming celebration was this year,” Carlson Zink said. “We had great attendance at the Sioux Awards, at the parade and we served more than 700 people at our tailgating tent.”

Rachel Thorstenson and Paul Butler
UND Homecoming Queen Rachel Thorstenson, a biology major from Plymouth, Minn., and Homecoming King Paul Butler, a business major from Ogden, Utah, are greeted by fans at the UND Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Alerus Center.

UND President Mark Kennedy had the good fortune of making his first UND Homecoming celebration a milestone event. But no matter what year it is, the president emphasized that Homecomings are a special time rife with reconnections.

“They’re powerful moments in the lives of our alumni, bringing us all together again as One UND,” Kennedy said.

The President also thanked Rydell Cars for its support of the University now and throughout the years.

“The people at Rydell Cars believe in our mission as a University and what our Alumni Association and Foundation do for our thousands of alumni around the world,” Kennedy said. “We are proud to have them as a partner.”

A big part of Homecoming Week revolves around UND’s Athletics programs, and this year, UND teams rattled off the victories. The Volleyball squad defeated Montana State University on Thursday and the University of Montana on Saturday. The men’s and women’s hockey teams went undefeated against RPI and Mankato State University, respectively. The men’s and women’s Swimming and Diving Teams remained undefeated for the year, each with a few more victories this past week. And, of course, the UND Football team took care of the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds with a 45-23 victory at the Alerus Center, before more than 10,500 fans.

Tailgating before the football game had a championship feel. The 1996-97 NCAA Division II National Championship Women’s Basketball Team was on hand to mingle with the crowd and celebrate its induction into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame. Several members of UND’s 2000-01 NCAA Division II National Championship football team were present, too. Also, former UND Hockey standout and NHL player Jason Blake was in town to be inducted into Hall of Fame. Blake was a member of UND’s 1997 NCAA National Championship Team.

In addition to enjoying conquests on the sports field, the University also took time to dedicate its new School of Medicine and Health Sciences headquarters and a new Collaborative Energy Complex for the College of Engineering and Mines.  UND leaders thanked donors and lawmakers for helping make the two buildings a reality on campus.

“Both the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Collaborative Energy Complex are great examples of UND’s commitment to continuing to open new frontiers through research and discovery,” Kennedy said.

Other highlights of the weekend included the coronation of UND’s newest Homecoming King and Queen: Paul Butler, a senior business major from Ogden, Utah; and Rachel Thorstenson, a senior biology student from Plymouth, Minn.