by Juan Miguel Pedraza, University & Public Affairs writer
Posted on 7/1/2014
Elizabeth Bjerke, left, and Kent Lovelace. Photo by Jackie Lorentz.
Elizabeth Bjerke took the reins of the University of North Dakota Department of Aviation on July 1. Kent Lovelace, chair for the past 20 years, announced earlier this year that he was stepping down. The Department is part of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.
Bjerke will be running a department with about 1,500 majors and about 50 faculty. She came to UND as a student in 1996. She has been associate chair of the department for two years, following nine years as the assistant chair of assessment and faculty.
She got her undergraduate degree, her MBA, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, all at UND.
Widely published in the area of aviation education, Bjerke began her career in collegiate aviation education following an opportunity to teach as while she worked as a UND flight instructor.
"I discovered that I really loved being in the classroom, working with students," said Bjerke, who has published several research journal articles and given numerous presentations on various aviation-related topics.
Bjerke is actively involved with the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI), where she has served on the Board of Trustees since 2007. She is also a member of the University Aviation Association (UAA), and a FAASTeam Lead Representative for the North Dakota Region. Prior to her current role on faculty, Dr. Bjerke served as a Lead Flight Instructor and an Assistant Chief-Flight Instructor for UND's Part 141 flight training program.
Bjerke, a native of Whitehall, Wisc., also was instrumental in organizing and leading the UND chapter of Women in Aviation. She still is the faculty advisor to the group.