UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

Lives of achievement

Minnesota Twins President St. Peter headlines a distinguished list of Sioux Award, Young Alumni recognitions for 2016

Dave St. Peter and DeAnna Carlson Zink
Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter, a UND alum, accepts his Sioux Award from DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation. The Sioux Award is the highest award that can be given to UND alumni.

For University of North Dakota alumni, nothing is more prestigious than the Sioux Award — the highest honor given by the UND Alumni Association and Foundation during Homecoming.

Dave St. Peter, president of the Minnesota Twins, put it into perspective.

“The Sioux Award is a tremendous honor that’s been bestowed on some of the great names and supporters in the University’s history,” St. Peter said. “To even be mentioned as part of that group, let alone to win the award, is something I take very seriously, and am incredibly honored and humbled.”

St. Peter is one of four individuals who received a 2016 Sioux Award on Thursday, Oct. 13 during an alumni banquet at the Alerus Center.

“The Sioux Awards banquet is one of my favorite events because every year I leave so inspired by the outstanding recipients,” said Deanna Carlson Zink, CEO of the Alumni Association & Foundation. “These are titans of industry, researchers, entrepreneurs and public servants, and they all point to their time on campus as critical to their success. Many have become investors in the University and its students because they believe so strongly in what UND meant to them.”

The Sioux Award began as the Service Award in 1949 when it was given to M. Beatrice Johnstone, an 1891 alumna and one of UND’s first graduates, for whom Johnstone Hall is named on campus. The award was changed to the Distinguished Service Citation in 1956, and former UND presidents, benefactor Chester Fritz and bandleader Lawrence Welk were among the honorees.

The name was changed to the Sioux Award in 1962. The Sioux Awards name remains because it was not part of the NCAA sanctions and is not an athletic award or event, and it is meant to honor the Sioux spirit by recognizing the University’s most accomplished alumni, according to Milo Smith of the Alumni Association & Foundation.

Award winners include former Gov. and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, North Dakota Supreme Court Justices, former governors, entrepreneurs and people who have made a difference in the lives of others. All of them have given back to UND in multiple ways.

“The event inspired me,” said Nicole Polejewski, a junior marketing major and scholarship recipient who attended the event. “It’s such a grand event, and so cool to be surrounded by people who used to go to school here and are so passionate about UND.”

Sioux Award Young Alumni Achievement winners
UND’s latest round of Sioux Award Young Alumni Achievement winners were honored Thursday, Oct. 13 at a banquet at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. They are (left to right) Dave St. Peter (‘89), Minnesota Twins president; Haley (Swanson) Thorson (‘05), public health nurse/tobacco prevention coordinator with the Grand Forks Public Health Department; Elizabeth Abraham (’70), CEO of Treasurer Top Tool Company; Rick Burgum (’68), chairman of The Arthur Companies; and Dr. Tim Henry (’78, ‘80), chief of cardiology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Not pictured is Young Alumni Achievement winner Nick Eberling (‘06), lead solo pilot for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Alumni, she said, give scholarships because they once benefited from them.

“It’s not just a check,” she said “They care so much, and I want to be that generous and giving.”

This year’s other Sioux Award recipients were:

Elizabeth Abraham
Majority Owner, CEO and Treasurer
Top Tool Company
Minneapolis, Minn.
M.A., Experimental Psychology, 1970

As CEO of Top Tool Co., a precision metal stamping manufacturer, Elizabeth Abraham is proud of changing the culture to a cooperative team approach. The company has won multiple awards for leadership, quality, innovation, and places to work.

“I always think that my background with UND and undergraduate experience helped me solve all kinds of problems,” Abraham said. She also credits psychology professor emeritus Paul Wright, who motivated her to finish a difficult thesis.  “I don’t think you see that very often at other graduate schools. The faculty at UND really helped and reached out to me.”

Rick Burgum
Chairman, The Arthur Companies
Arthur, N.D.
B.Phil., History, Political Science, Economics, and Mathematics, 1968

Rick Burgum has run the family business, a grain elevator operation, since 1971, and grown it from three locations to nine. The third generation to run the 100-year-old business, he was also a partner in his cousin Doug Burgum’s business, Great Plains Software, acquired by Microsoft in 2001.

“I tried to get a rounded education,” Burgum said. “I think that was really helpful. There’s always something new coming along.”

Dr. Tim Henry
Chief of Cardiology
Cedars Sinai Medical Center
Los Angeles, Calif.
B.S., Natural Science, 1978
B.S., Medicine, 1980

Saving lives through research and early intervention is Dr. Tim Henry’s focus. His field, interventional cardiology, didn’t even exist when he began medical school at UND. A researcher, teacher, and physician, Henry has excelled in all fields.

“Those of us who grow up in North Dakota have a view of the world where what matters is that you’re honest and hard-working,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your social position is.”

Young Alumni Achievement Award:

Also at this year’s Sioux Awards Banquet, two Young Achievement Award winners were honored:

  • Haley Thorson, Public Health Nurse/Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, Grand Forks Public Health Department, East Grand Forks, B.S., Nursing, 2005.
  • Nick Eberling, lead solo, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, Las Vegas, Nev., B.S., Aviation, 2006.