I’ve had strong connections to North Dakota State University my entire life. Dad worked with the agronomists at the University for years raising foundation seed: Many of the 50 lb bags of seed we would empty into our drill each spring had the University’s golden seal attached right in the seam. When an animal, either wild or domestic, would die under circumstances associated with rabies, we would cut its head off and send it to the University for testing. North Dakota State University was a part of the daily life of many North Dakota farmers like us.
The University of North Dakota, on the other hand, was just this black hole in Grand Forks that I didn’t know very much about. It was the university that produced hockey players, doctors and lawyers. While I had respect for physicians, hockey players and lawyers weren’t very high on my list of admirable people.
Then, in 1981, I began attending North Dakota State University, and suddenly the college in Grand Forks, which I knew very little about, developed a face and personality; that of the drunk, angry, obscenity spewing fans that came to Fargo to cheer on their Fighting Sioux. I realize that the Fighting Sioux fans weren’t the only obnoxious ones during those days of heated rivalry, but the students and fans that came to Fargo for sporting events were the only representatives of the University of North Dakota that I ever saw, and I grew to dislike everything associated with them.
In 1988, I was hired by the University of North Dakota as a contract employee to supply services for the Agricultural Research Service. I’m a University employee on paper, but in reality, I have very little to do with them. I have absolutely no contact with the faculty or students. So, even though I’ve worked at the University of North Dakota for 26 years, my impression of the students and fans hadn’t changed much since 1981.
Something changed this summer, however: My son enrolled at the University of North Dakota and we’ve met many wonderful people during the visits we’ve made to campus. These are people who are dedicated to make Carl’s educational experience at the University of North Dakota a positive one, and they take their job seriously!
We were at the new Scheels on Friday and I was looking for a hot weather running tank top. Sue pointed at one that said “University of North Dakota” and laughed, knowing that I wouldn’t be interested. I’ve never purchased anything with “University of North Dakota” on it in my entire life, and she knew I wasn’t going to start now. But for the first time ever, I wasn’t revolted by the mere sight of something promoting the university, and I actually kind of liked it, so I secretly tried it on.
I ended up purchasing the top, and when I finally showed it to Carl and Sue, they stared with their mouths wide open; they were absolutely speechless! Carl eventually spoke first and asked why I finally decided to buy something like that, and I told him: “I’m proud of the University of North Dakota because that’s where my son goes to college!”