Video tribute to Memorial Stadium wins CASE award
Marketing & Communications teams take home top honors in photo, video categories
Saying goodbye to an old friend is always tough. And tougher still when a worldwide pandemic prevents you from doing so in person.
It’s for the same reason UND President Andy Armacost said that just any old send-off would not do when it came time for the University to bid farewell to Memorial Stadium, one of its oldest and most beloved friends, of sorts.
The iconic fortress on the eastern edge of campus — first dedicated in 1927 as a memorial to UND’s third president, Webster Merrifield, and to the 33 UND students who lost their lives in World War I — would become the place setting for almost a century’s worth of new memories.
It would see decades of first dates, thousands of jubilant fans and 72 seasons of grid-iron glory. The Memorial Stadium deserved a tribute befitting its place in history and in people’s hearts.
What resulted was a live-streamed recognition ceremony that recently was honored with a Best of District VI Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Comfort and closure
UND Senior Video Producer Matthew Schill said organizers knew they wanted to create something that lived just as large and just as long as the Memorial Stadium itself, but there was a problem. At the time the stadium was set to be razed in the spring of 2021, COVID restrictions made it impossible to hold any in-person public event.
“Fans might not have been able to visit the stadium before it was taken down, but I think the video helped to give them some measure of comfort and closure,” Schill said. “Hopefully, we gave them a way to relive some of those special memories while also honoring the individuals for whom the stadium was dedicated.”
The 33-minute video tribute hosted by Armacost takes viewers down memory lane with current and past football coaches sharing stories and laughs. They all remembered what former Head Coach Chris Mussman (2008-13) called UND’s version of the Resolute Desk — the famed behemoth desk that sits in the president’s Oval Office.
Mussman recalled how it took the strength of almost five linemen to budge the bulky desk just 2 feet. And Head Coach Bubba Schweigert (2014-present) joked it was so heavy that he was convinced the office had been built around it.
Added former Head Coach Roger Thomas (1986-98): “UND is that kind of place — there’s something, and maybe the desk is part of that — that carries on. There’s such a bond, a unity and pride in UND football. It (the stadium) was and is like no other place. It really is true.”
All hands on deck
Schill says the award-winning video also demonstrated expert collaboration between a number of different people and departments across campus.
For example, Director of Ceremonies & University Events Fred Wittmann worked with his team on much of the planning, organizing and staging for the event in the Aerospace Network studio. They also partnered with Barry Brode of Brode Communications Consulting. Brode and ASN produced the opening segment. UND Marketing & Creative Services staff also assisted with the project.
Further, Milo Smith, senior director of Public Relations & Videography for the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, filmed and produced a message from that organization’s Chief Executive Officer DeAnna Carlson Zink, in which she described how the fundraising campaign was the school’s very first.
“They were the first to see the potential of what could be accomplished when alumni are asked to help support their alma mater and the students who are following in their footsteps on the UND campus,” Zink said in the video. “By asking alumni to support the stadium, they launched a culture of philanthropy that endures today.”
Schill produced the segment on the coaches, and he and former UND Videographer Peter Monsrud also produced the final solemn segment featuring the color guard from UND’s Army ROTC Fighting Hawks Battalion retiring the flag in Memorial Stadium with the sound of taps playing in the background.
A spotlight on students
Schill said Monsrud deserves most of the credit for the second winning video in the CASE awards. While Schill helped produce the “Campus Tour” video, he said Monsrud was responsible for all of the filming and editing.
“We generally update these tour videos every few years, but we felt it was especially important after COVID and with all of the new buildings on campus,” Schill said. “It’s a chance to get prospective students excited about UND by showing them everything it has to offer. And they get to see what living on campus is actually like.”
Students Gabriel Randall and Lauren McCreary served as the tour guides in the video.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for the hard work done by our team,” Schill said. “While UND’s physical campus has changed so much over the past few years, it was fun to showcase the many great things at UND.”
Shawna Schill explained that the “Leaders in Action” tagline represents UND’s external brand promise. The monthly feature shows each student’s personal “journey to become a well-rounded contributor in their community, family and profession, as well as their commitment to hard work, achievement and making a positive impact.”
Driven by strong, personality-focused portraits, the photos often are shot on-location and use directional, creative lighting, Schill said. The joyful and colorful stories aim to inspire new generations of students to discover their own path to success.
The stories are shared statewide through a targeted webpage and also in advertisements, student recruitment materials, social media channels and department webpages.
“We are truly honored to win this award on behalf of the University. This campaign is an opportunity for our photo team to find original ways to highlight student accomplishments,” Shawna Schill said. “These students really are leaders, and we are inspired by their passion, hard work and dedication.”