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U.S. Space Force chief to give main address at UND Commencement on May 14

Food Network star Molly Yeh to join accountancy hall-of-famer Henry Herr and economic strategist Delore Zimmerman in receiving honorary degrees

UND archival image.

Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, will give the main address at UND commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14.

Raymond will speak for both the graduate degrees ceremony at 9 a.m. and the undergraduate degrees ceremony at 2 p.m. in the Alerus Center, just south of the UND campus. The events will be available both as a live stream and on demand.

Candidates eligible for graduation number almost 2,000, with 639 graduate and doctoral students, 1,128 bachelor’s degree candidates, 63 law graduates and 69 who will receive their M.D. degree. An additional 13 law students who graduated in December will be recognized at the School of Law commencement ceremony on May 7.

UND President Andrew Armacost will preside.

Honorary degrees

Also on May 14, honorary degrees will be conferred on Food Network star and local resident Molly Yeh, business leader and philanthropist Henry Herr, and entrepreneur Delore Zimmerman during the afternoon ceremony. In the morning, the graduate degrees commencement will include the presentation of two new Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors, UND’s highest academic honor.

Law and Medicine 

On Saturday, May 7, UND also will hold commencement ceremonies for the School of Law at 10 a.m. and for the School of Medicine & Health Sciences at 2:30 p.m. in the Chester Fritz Auditorium.

About Gen. John W. ‘Jay’ Raymond

Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond

Gen. Raymond, the chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, is responsible for organizing, training and equipping Guardians serving in the U.S. and overseas. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the general and other service chiefs function as military advisors to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and the president.

Commissioned through the ROTC program at Clemson University in 1984, Gen. Raymond has commanded at squadron, group, wing, numbered Air Force, major command and combatant command levels. His first assignment placed him at Grand Forks Air Force Base from 1985 to 1989, where he met his future wife, Mollie, then a UND student.

Notable staff assignments include serving in the Office of Force Transformation, Office of the Secretary of Defense; the director of Plans, Programs and Analyses at Air Force Space Command; the director of Plans and Policy (J5), U.S. Strategic Command; and the deputy chief of staff for Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

In 2021, Gen. Raymond and UND President Andy Armacost signed a historic agreement between the Space Force and UND – an agreement making UND the first member of the Space Force’s University Partnership Program.

About the honorary degree recipients

Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh is an award-winning food blogger, cookbook author and host of Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm.”

Originally from Chicago, Yeh graduated from The Julliard School in New York City with a Bachelor of Music degree in percussion in 2011. It was at Julliard where she met her future husband, a fifth-generation farmer from the Greater Grand Forks region.

Her blog was named Food Blog of the Year by both Yahoo and Saveur Magazine in 2015, and she since has contributed to many prominent magazines such as Conde Nast Traveler and Food 52. Her debut cookbook, “Molly on the Range: Recipes and stories from an unlikely life on a farm,” won the Judges’ Choice IACP Cookbook Award in 2017.

In 2018, she published her second book, “Yogurt,” and her upcoming cookbook, “Home is Where the Eggs Are,” is set to publish this September.

In June 2018, the Food Network debuted “Girl Meets Farm,” a show starring Yeh that’s filmed at her East Grand Forks home. More than 100 episodes of “Girl Meets Farm” have aired to date, and Yeh was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Culinary Host in 2019.

Henry Herr

Henry Herr

Henry Herr is an accountant and business leader who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting from UND in 1968 and 1971. He was selected for UND’s Accounting Hall of Fame in 2011 and for a UND Alumni Association & Foundation Sioux Award in 2015.

Born and raised in Bismarck, N.D., Herr served in the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division following his 1968 graduation from UND. After earning a Bronze Star for his service in the Vietnam War, Herr returned to UND for his master’s degree.

Herr helped to found Healthways in 1981 and AmSurg in 1992. As CFO, a member of each company’s board and an executive leader, he helped create thousands of jobs, served millions of patients and grew the firms into companies with market capitalizations in the billions of dollars.

Herr served as CFO for Healthways until 2001 and remained on its Board of Directors until 2009. He served as CFO for AmSurg from 1992 to 1994, then on the Board of Directors until 2016.

Herr helped pioneer transformational changes that have improved the patient experience, delivered high-quality care, reduced cost and created value for investors and employees.

With his success in business, Herr also has become known for his philanthropy. At UND, in particular, Herr has endowed a professorship, an endowed chair and multiple funds in the Department of Accountancy. In total, Herr’s gifts to the Department of Accountancy and the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration exceed $10 million.

Delore Zimmerman

Delore Zimmerman

Delore Zimmerman, founder and president of Praxis Strategy Group, earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology from UND in 1976 and 1979 before earning his Ph.D. in sociology, economic geography and environment from Pennsylvania State University in 1986.

A native of Wishek, N.D., Zimmerman is an economic strategist, researcher, activist and developer. His work with hundreds of entrepreneurs and dozens of communities has led him to advising technology, agriculture and economic development organizations in Wales, England, South Korea and Tanzania, in addition to his decades of work in the Greater Grand Forks region.

He currently serves as the Interim Executive Director of the Valley Prosperity Partnership. He also co-founded and co-manages the Red River Corridor Fund, and is president of the Red River Angel Fund.

He has been awarded eight Small Business Innovation Research awards funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and has written or co-written several books on economic development.

Zimmerman founded Praxis Strategy Group in 1994. Headquartered in Grand Forks, Praxis Strategy Group is an economic research, strategy, planning and development company that works with community leaders and entrepreneurs in business, government, education and the civic sector.

In 2014, Zimmerman was awarded an Outstanding Alumni Award by the Pennsylvania State University Department of Sociology and Criminology. He serves on the department’s alumni advisory board.

About the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors

UND also will recognize two new Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors: Glenda Lindseth, Distinguished Professor of Nursing; and Sean Valentine, Distinguished Professor of Management. Valentine, who was named in 2020, will be honored at this commencement. Julia Zhao, who was also named Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Chemistry this year, will take part in a future ceremony.

The professorship, UND’s highest academic honor, is bestowed upon professors who have made significant achievements in research, teaching and service, as well as have acclaim or national recognition for their work.

Only about 80 faculty members have earned the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship since its inception. It was established with an endowment gift from the late UND benefactor Chester Fritz (1892-1983). Each year, revenue from the endowment provides cash stipends to one or more full-time UND faculty members, who thereafter may use the title Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor.

Glenda Lindseth

Glenda Lindseth has conducted clinical and behavioral research for over 25 years. Her work has been funded by the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services. She served as the principal investigator and project director for the NIH-funded Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research and the Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research Translation, focused on the behavioral health needs of vulnerable underserved populations.

She also formed an interdisciplinary research team to obtain funding to build the Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research. Well-known nationwide, she was the first nurse to earn a planning grant for Behavioral Research Translation.

Lindseth has conducted U.S. Army Biomedical Research and Materiel Command-funded studies on the behavioral effects of dietary interventions in young adult populations. Both Army studies and a NIH study of pregnant women focused on dietary intake, biochemical and physical activity measures of the study participants. Currently, she works with underrepresented college students as the principal investigator of a NIH funded MARC U-STAR program at UND.

Sean Valentine

Sean Valentine has served as the Robert Page Endowed Professor of Leadership and Ethics in the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration since 2016. He has taught at UND since 2008.

Valentine’s teaching and research focus on business ethics, organizational behavior and human resource management. His 40-plus peer-reviewed journal articles have been cited nearly 6,000 times, and he’s regarded as a leading expert in his field. His research involves respondents and empirical data derived from real companies, incorporating real-world processes used by companies to make decisions.

He is lead author of the leading U.S. textbook on human resource management, now in its 16th edition. Teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in topics similar to his research, Valentine’s students evaluate his teaching style with positivity and praise. He is active in service.

Valentine is a three-time recipient of the North Dakota Spirit Faculty Achievement Award, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as for the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration’s Meritorious Award for Excellence in Research in 2008, 2013 and 2017. In 2016, he received the College’s Meritorious Teaching, Research and Service Award, and in 2019, he was nominated for a service award.

Julia Zhao

Julia Zhao is a preeminent expert in nanoparticles and nanomaterials.  She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, several invited book chapters and a book on the topic, as well as presented her work at conferences worldwide.

Zhao has shown a commitment to securing the University’s intellectual property rights, while licensing her technology through eight approved patents and two patents pending.

She is especially proud of advising nine graduate and 11 postdoctoral students, and training them to be independent scientists. Many of her students have received teaching, research and presentation awards.

She’s a tireless advocate for underrepresented groups and STEM disciplines, continually looking for ways to reach out and connect effectively with others. Her Sunday Academy and virtual learning videos have helped her build relationships among North Dakota’s tribal college student communities.