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University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

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Summer Commencement offers salute to summer grads and First Nations that preceded America

It’s tradition at UND graduation ceremonies to begin the celebrations with the song America The Beautiful.  The University’s 2022 Summer Commencement, on Friday (Aug. 5), was no exception.

UND student Kylar Moltzan delivered a flawless musical rendition of the poem turned patriotic classic before hundreds of soon-to-be graduates, their families and friends at Chester Fritz Auditorium.

UND President Andy Armacost followed up Moltzan’s solo with an inspired salute to the First Nations’ people who lived here before there was an America. UND shows its commitment to this sentiment every day through its Land Acknowledgement Statement, he said.

UND President Andy Armacost addresses the graduates during the 2022 Summer Commencement ceremony. Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.

“Today the University of North Dakota rests on the ancestral lands of the Pembina and Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the Dakota Oyate, presently existing as composite parts of the Red Lake, Turtle Mountain, White Earth Bands, and the Dakota Tribes of Minnesota and North Dakota,” Armacost said.

“We acknowledge the people who resided here for generations, and recognize the spirt of the Ojibwe and Oyate people permeate this land.”

Armacost continued by promising that the University community would continue to build upon its relations with the First Nations of North Dakota: The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation; Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Nation; Spirit Lake Nation; Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

Crowds gather outside of UND’s Chester Fritz Auditorium on the occasion of Summer Commencement 2022. Photo uploaded by Mike Hess/UND Today.

The Ceremony

There were more than 600 UND students who were eligible to receive degrees at this year’s summer event, including 300 undergrads, more than 230 Master’s students, and about 80 doctoral degree candidates. Nearly 300 of those students actually crossed the stage to receive their degrees on Friday.

Before bestowing the degrees, UND Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of History Jim Mochoruk delivered a short inspirational message to students, reminding them to use their knowledge and critical-thinking to never stop learning and adapting to an ever-changing world.

“I urge you to exercise your unquestioned abilities to lead – and to do so in the ways and manner that are most comfortable to you, and most useful to our world,” he said.

Mochoruk yielded the stage to a fellow Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, one of UND’s newest: Julia Zhao.   The Chester Fritz Professorship is the highest distinction and honor that a UND faculty member can attain. Zhao, a professor of chemistry, chose Friday’s Summer Commencement to be officially recognized with the award.

There are currently about 30 Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors at UND, comprising about 4 percent of total faculty members.

The photo album

Check out more of the sights and sounds from UND’s Summer Commencement below.

Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.
Photo by Devin Durant/UND Today.
Photo by Devin Durant/UND Today.
Sarah Elizabeth Reagen has her doctoral hood placed over her head on the occasion of her being awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry. Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.
Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.
Photo by Mike Hess/UND Today.
Photo by Devin Durant/UND Today.