UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

UND celebrates Founders Day

Event recognizes faculty and departmental excellence, employees with 25 years of service and retirees

UND President Andrew Armacost addresses attendees at the university’s annual Founder’s Day celebration. Joe Banish/UND Today.

Members of the campus community gathered at the Memorial Union on Thursday, Feb. 15, to honor the contributions of employees – past and present – to the 141-year history of UND.

Founders Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the 1883 Dakota Territory legislation establishing the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and is the official birthday of UND. The first celebration of Founders Day was in 1904.

Retirees with at least 15 years of service, employees with 25 years of service, and department and faculty award winners were recognized at the banquet.

UND President Andrew Armacost thanked awardees for their service and dedication to the university.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the legacy of our university than what we’ve done tonight, which is honor those recipients who have served us so well,” he said. “We talk about the importance of gratitude and connection, and through events like this, we connect better with one another. We can create that sense of community for the university, for all of Grand Forks and the state of North Dakota.”

Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System, praised UND as the state’s “flagship institution,” a leader among the 11 institutions comprising the NDUS.

“You truly act as a flagship,” he said. “I’m a former Naval officer, and a flagship does help the smaller ships. It helps disseminate news about where the ships and fleets are moving.”

“I want to thank this school for having this dinner and honoring the faculty, because it really is an honor for those of you have given so many years of your life,” he continued. “You can trace the lineage of where these scholars come from, and your legacy will live on in these students that you’ve taught who’ve helped run our country and build our family.”

Attendees at the 2024 Founders Day Celebration. Joe Banish/UND Today.

Academic awards

The following individuals and academic departments received awards at the annual Founders Day banquet on Feb. 15.

UND Foundation/McDermott Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Patrick Henry, Assistant Professor, English, College of Arts & Sciences
Panini Radha, Teaching Associate Professor, Mathematics, College of Arts & Sciences

UND Foundation/McDermott Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate or Professional Teaching

Radomir Mitic, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Education, Health & Behavior, College of Education & Human Development

UND Foundation/Lydia & Arthur Saiki Faculty Award for Excellence in Service

Jessica Zerr, Teaching Professor, English, College of Arts & Sciences

UND Foundation/McDermott Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and / or Creative Activity

Taufique Mahmood, Associate Professor, Geology & Geological Engineering, College of Engineering & Mines

UND Foundation/B.C. Gamble Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research or Creative Activity, and Service
Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz, Associate Professor, Education, Health & Behavior Studies, College of Education & Human Development

UND Foundation/Karleen Home Rosaaen Faculty Award for Excellence in Academic Advising

Samantha Peterson, Assistant Professor, Medical Laboratory Science, School of Medicine & Health Sciences

VPAA Award for Outstanding Professional Academic Advising
Andrea Gargano, Academic Advisor, Student Academic Success & Career Engagement
Shannon Lee, Academic Advisor, Dean’s Office Aerospace
Lani Moen, Academic Advisor, Social Work
Carla Sanden, Academic Advisor, Dean’s Office NCoBPA
Beau Simon, Academic Advisor, Student Academic Success & Career Engagement
Katlyn Storm, Academic Advisor, Academic Services & Career Engagement
Trudy Soli, Administrative Officer, Army ROTC

VPAA Award for Excellence in Assessment

Tracy Enger, Clinical Associate Professor, Nursing, College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines

UND Award for Excellence in Course Development & Innovative Teaching Strategies

Melissa Gjellstad, Professor & Director of Norwegian, Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, College of Arts & Sciences

UND Award for Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Research and Creative Activity

Anne Kelsch, Professor History, College of Arts & Sciences
Alena Kubatova, Professor, Chemistry, College of Arts & Sciences
Shaina Mattingly, Teaching Associate Professor, Chemistry, College of Arts & Sciences
Kanishka Marasinghe, Professor, Physics & Astrophysics, College of Arts & Sciences
Daphne Pedersen, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences
Rebecca Simmons, Professor, Biology, College of Arts & Sciences
Gregory Vandeberg, Professor, Geography, College of Arts & Sciences
Ryan Zerr, Professor, Mathematics, College of Arts & Sciences

UND Award for Departmental Excellence in Teaching
Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering & Mines

UND Award for Departmental Excellence in Research and Creative Activity
Music, College of Arts & Sciences

UND Award for Departmental Excellence in Service
Biology, College of Arts & Sciences

Members of UND’s College of Music receive an award for departmental excellence in research and creative activity. Photo by Monica Danielson for UND.

Service awards

The following faculty and staff were honored for 25 years of service.

  • David Bradley, Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Rob Brooks, Director of the Pride of the North Athletic Band Program, Music
  • Eric Burin, Professor, History & American Indian Studies
  • Chad Carlson, Aircraft Technician, Flight Support Services
  • Patrick Carr, Associate Dean Med Curriculum, Biomedical Sciences
  • Robert Clausen, Assistant Chief – Flight Training Manager
  • Diane Fore, Complex Security, Housing Residence
  • Bryon Grove, Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Nasser Hammami, Assistant Professor/CIO, Information Resources
  • Patrick Hill, Technical Director, Chester Fritz Auditorium
  • Tejinder Kaur, Advanced Cataloging Specialist, Chester Fritz Library
  • Matthew Nilles, Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Hassan Reza, Professor, SEECS
  • Jeremy Roesler, Chief Flight Instructor – Airplane, Flight Operations
  • Stacy Sailer, Laboratory Technician II, Biomedical Sciences
  • Bradley Stevens, Senior Research Engineer, EERC
  • Roxanne Vaughan, Professor, Biomedical Sciences
  • Jeffery Weatherly, Professor, Psychology
  • Steven Westereng, Chair/Associate Professor, Sports Medicine
  • Michael Wittgraf, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Music
  • Elizabeth Wold, Systems Administrator, Academic Support Services
  • Pamela Yon, Administrative Secretary, Aviation


Members of the UND community who retired in the last year will also be honored. They are:

  • Tammy Anderson, Administrative Secretary, Flight Support Services
  • Cynthia Beiswenger, Auditor, Internal Auditing
  • John Bratton, Building Services Technician, FM – Cust/Maint
  • Meridee Danks, Associate Professor, Physical Therapy
  • Schawnn Decker, Associate Professor, Physical Therapy
  • Dale Drake, Carpenter, FM – Cust/Maint
  • Harry Duchscherer, Application Analyst, EERC
  • Sherrie Fleshman, Associate Professor, Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures
  • Carol Grabanski, Chemical Technicians, EERC
  • Janet Jedlicka, Professor, Occupational Therapy
  • Laureen Johnson, Admissions & Records Officer, School of Law
  • Judy Johnson, C-Store Supervisor, Dining Services
  • John Kellebrew, Electronic Equipment Manager, FM – Cust/Maint
  • Robert Knutson, Vice President of Operations, UND Alumni Association & Foundation
  • Kevin Lacey, Building Services Manager, Housing Residence
  • Steven Light, Professor, Political Science & Public Administration
  • Patrick Miller, Strategic Communications Editor, Marketing & Communications
  • Victoria Morrissette, Student Conduct Coordinator, Community Standards/Access for Students
  • Christine Naas, Administrative Officer, President’s Office
  • Carolyn Nyberg, Research Engineer – Chemist, EERC
  • Cynthia Pariseau, Barista Supervisor, Dining
  • Shelly Pecka, Administrative Secretary, Community Standards/Access for Students
  • Raymond Pikarski, Drafter/Graphic Designer, EERC
  • Kathryn Rand, Professor, School of Law
  • Timothy Rerick, Director of Internal Auditing, Internal Auditing
  • Mark Romanick, Professor, Physical Therapy
  • Claudia Routon, Professor, Languages
  • Cheryl Schreiner, Senior Administrative Officer, Dean’s Office A&S
  • Dick Schultz, Senior Aviation Manager, Flight Operations
  • Mark Schwieters, Building Services Technician, FM – Cust/Maint
  • Diane Skean, Assistant Director of Business & Finance, EERC
  • Jeffrey St Michel, Food Services Assistant Director, Dining Residence
  • Brian Strom, Aquatics Facilities Manager, Athletics
  • LaVonne Thompson, Laboratory Technician, Human Nutrition Center
  • James Tibbetts, Research Engineer, EERC