UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

UND Aerospace Hall of Fame inducts two aviation leaders

Event celebrates alums Patrick Halligan and Bruce Smith for bringing honor to UND and profession

By Averie Eixenberger

On Oct. 6, UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences inducted two new alumni members into the UND Aerospace Hall of Fame.

This year’s honorees are Patrick Halligan and Bruce Smith.

At the UND Aerospace Hall of Fame Ceremony, inductee Patrick Halligan (left) accepts his award from Robert Kraus, dean of UND Aerospace (right), Oct. 6, 2023. Photo by Arjun Jagada/UND Aerospace.

Patrick Halligan ’76

Patrick “Pat” Halligan’s extensive aviation career stemmed from his airline pilot uncle, Jerry Farrell. Farrell funded Halligan’s solo license, thereby kickstarting Halligan’s career. Farrell’s generosity led to Halligan’s life-long determination to give back to the greater aviation community.

Halligan graduated from UND in 1976 with a bachelor of science in Business Aviation and worked as a flight instructor at the University of Minnesota. While instructing, Halligan was selected to train for the Minnesota Air National Guard and flew for the Guard from 1980 to 1986.

After his work in the Air National Guard, Halligan flew for Republic Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and then Delta Air Lines. After 32 years as a professional pilot, Pat retired and began the next chapter in his career.

Halligan was noted for his significant contributions to scholarships and organizations that help others to fly. Halligan is currently on the Board of Directors for EAA Chapter 25, is the Scholarship Committee chairman for the Minnesota Pilots Association and is also on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.

In each of these positions, Halligan created scholarships that have helped students gain an education in aviation, creating nine total scholarships among them.

Halligan was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2023 for 50 continuous years of safe flying and is currently working on building a Pietenpol, a parasol wing homebuilt aircraft.

At the UND Aerospace Hall of Fame Ceremony, inductee Bruce Smith (left) accepts his award from Robert Kraus, dean of UND Aerospace (right), Oct. 6, 2023. Photo by Arjun Jagada/UND Aerospace.

Bruce Smith ’70

Although football first drew Bruce Smith to the University of North Dakota, he eventually pursued majors in Mathematics and Education while joining the Air Force ROTC program. Through ROTC, Bruce became one of the first students to complete his private pilot training at UND.

Smith eventually graduated from UND in 1970 and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force to begin his military career, eventually becoming an accomplished instructor pilot.

Smith received a Master of Arts in Education at Arizona State University and his Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Development from Florida State University in 1984. He worked as the director of Training Systems and senior scientist at Singer, Hughes Aircraft, Raytheon, and Delta Air Lines.

Smith’s educational and professional background made him the ideal candidate to become the Odegard School’s second dean in 2000. In the following 16 years, Smith helped to grow UND Aerospace substantially, bringing in donors who helped to provide more scholarships for students and grow the programs offered by the College of Aerospace.

Smith was noted for focusing more on areas outside of Commercial Aviation, such as Air Traffic Control and UAS. His work also established graduate programs in each of the academic departments of the College.

At the 2023 UND Aerospace Hall of Fame Ceremony, an audience of friends and family watch as two new members are inducted. Photo by Arjun Jagada/UND Aerospace.

Making John’s dreams come true

Both inductees were joined by family and friends at the ceremony to honor them. The event also was attended by notable alumni as well as all four UND Aerospace first spouses, whose support of the inductees shows the impact they have left on UND Aerospace.

In their acceptance speeches, both Halligan and Smith attributed their success to the University and the family they found here. Smith compared being dean to “being a conductor in the world’s greatest symphony orchestra.”

“John Odegard was always a visionary,” said Smith. “These programs were John’s visions as well. It led Diane Odegard to say one of the nicest things anyone could say to me: ‘We made John’s dreams come true.'”

About the author:

Averie Eixenberger is a Commercial Aviation and English major at UND. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career as an airline pilot and work within aviation journalism.