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Former UND faculty member Mary Wakefield to address more than 1,700 candidates for graduation

Posted on 5/8/2012

Mary Wakefield
Mary Wakefield
Former University of North Dakota faculty member and administrator Mary Wakefield, known as the most influential nurse in America, will provide the keynote remarks at the University's general commencement ceremony Saturday, May 12, beginning 1:30 p.m., at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

More than 1,700 graduates and undergraduate students are eligible to receive degrees.

Honorary degrees also will be presented to Wakefield, currently director of the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Senator Kent Conrad and B. John Barry, UND alumnus, successful entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist.

Commenting on the honorary degree recipients, UND President Robert Kelley said, "all have had a profound effect on the University, state and nation through their dedication and unceasing desire to affect positive changes in their respective fields. UND is an exceptional place, in part, because of their individual contributions to the University."

Also, at the ceremony, Dr. Warren Jensen, professor of aviation in the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, will be named a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, the University's highest faculty designation. In his nominating letter, Bruce Smith, dean of aerospace, called Jensen "an invaluable asset to the Aerospace College, the University, and the State of North Dakota."

The Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorships were established with an endowment gift from the late UND benefactor Chester Fritz, 1892-1983. Revenue from the endowment provides for cash stipends to one or more full-time UND faculty members, who thereafter may use the title "Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor."

Also, part of the ceremony, the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences will confer the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (M.P.A.S.) degree during commencement ceremonies at 1:30 p.m., on Saturday, May 12, in the Alerus Center. Fifty-five candidates will receive the degree. They are the 38th class to graduate from the UND Physician Assistant (PA) Program. The graduates also will participate in a special hooding ceremony on Friday, May 11.

The medical school has more than 1,600 graduates from the PA program. For a complete list of graduates, please visit http://bit.ly/JpIngR.

Broadcast opportunities
Two programs will be webcast on Saturday, May 12. "Celebrate Achievement," will begin at 12:30 p.m. This pre-commencement show features live interviews with students, a concert by the UND Wind Ensemble, and videos about UND. The 124th General Commencement Ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. The video streams will be available at noon. UND's Cable Channel 3 will appear on the stream until each program begins. The webcast can be viewed here: http://und.edu/student-affairs/commencement/watch-commencement.cfm

DVDs of the ceremony are available at the UND Bookstore. To purchase a copy, contact the bookstore at 701.777.4980. The cost is $15 plus shipping and tax.

The commencement ceremony will also be telecast live on channel 3. "Celebrate Achievement" begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by spring commencement at 1:30 p.m. Both shows will be repeated on Channel 3 May 15-18 at 12:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Dr. Mary Wakefield
Mary Katherine Wakefield was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to serve as director of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). A division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HRSA's mission is to improve access to health services. As director, Wakefield oversees more than 10 programs, nearly 2,000 employees and 3,000 grantees with a budget of $7.5 billion.

A native of Devils Lake, Wakefield earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Mary in Bismarck. She completed both her master's degree and Ph.D. in nursing at the University of Texas in Austin.

In 1977 Wakefield began an academic appointment with UND's College of Nursing while simultaneously expanding her clinical experiences in caring for residents in a rural nursing home setting as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit. Throughout her distinguished career as a clinical instructor, Wakefield was a model for UND students in both nursing practice and role development. She demonstrated to them the potential for nurses to impact the health of populations on a larger scale, beyond the individual patient.

Wakefield brought her focus and energy to the national level by serving as a legislative assistant and then chief of staff to Senators Quentin Burdick (1987 to 1992) and Kent Conrad (1993 to 1996). In this time, She established a reputation for her ability to develop collaborative solutions to difficult problems. As co-chair of the Senate Rural Health Caucus Staff Organization, she worked in a bipartisan fashion on a wide variety of rural health policy issues.

Wakefield returned to the academic world to serve as director of the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics at George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.) from 1996 to 2001. She then returned to the University of North Dakota to become director of the Center for Rural Health in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Under her leadership, the Center achieved significant increases in funding and activities to identify rural health issues, analyze health policy, strengthen local capabilities, and develop community-based alternatives to address changes in the rural health care environment.

In 2004, Wakefield became the first North Dakotan to be elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Science, one of the highest honors in medicine and health. She served on IOM committees that produced landmark studies of rural health, education in the health care professions, and patient safety and quality of care.

The list of honors and accolades bestowed upon her is extensive. In 2009 - the same year as her appointment from President Obama - Wakefield was named one of the "Top 25 Women in Health Care." She has been described as "the most influential nurse in the United States."

For these and many other accomplishments, Wakefield is receiving an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at today's commencement ceremony. Members of the UND College of Nursing and Department of Social Work who nominated her for the honor wrote, "Dr. Wakefield has publicly paraphrased a statement by President Obama: 'Expect the unexpected. Ordinary people, when committed, can do extraordinary things.' While many people would think an ice fishing-loving girl born and raised in Devils Lake, North Dakota, is quite ordinary, we know the reality of how extraordinary Dr. Wakefield is. She exemplifies the meaning of President Obama's words, and we are exceedingly fortunate to call her one of our own."

Sen. Kent Conrad
A fifth-generation North Dakotan, Kent Conrad was born in Bismarck and attended Roosevelt Elementary and Hughes Junior High. He graduated from the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1966. He attended the University of Missouri and Stanford University, where he graduated in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in government. He earned his master's in business administration from George Washington University in 1975.

Conrad has dedicated his life to serving the people of North Dakota, starting with his six years as North Dakota's Tax Commissioner, before his successful 1986 bid for the U.S. Senate. North Dakotans have sent Conrad to the represent them in Washington, D.C., in five successive elections. He became ranking Budget panel member in the U.S. Senate in 2004, and then chairman after the elections of 2006. He has also been a prominent face when it comes to agricultural and energy issues.

Conrad has been a vigorous advocate for farmers, the sugar beet industry, alternative fuels, wind energy, and disaster relief. Among his current priorities are permanent flood control on the Red River and addressing issues associated with the high levels of Devils Lake.

In April 2006, he was selected by Time magazine as one of the "America's 10 Best Senators." That same year, he was praised by The American for his knowledge of economic issues. Conrad also has aligned himself with a bi-partisan "gang" of senators pushing for greater offshore drilling and compromises in the area of budgetary reforms.

Conrad has been an avid supporter of UND and, in particular, the College of Business and Public Administration. He visits the University, serves as a guest lecturer, and can often be seen on campus speaking to students about the political issues of the day. Both his Washington, D.C., and North Dakota offices have provided internships and other learning opportunities.

Conrad has announced that he will retire from the U.S. Senate at the end of his current term. He has established a legacy as one of the most influential political figures in North Dakota history.

B. John Barry
B. John Barry is recognized for his outstanding accomplishments in the financial services industry and other enterprises, and as a philanthropist and active benefactor on behalf of his alma mater. He began honing his business talents at the age of 12 by selling snack items to construction workers in his native Fargo, N.D. A few years later, he was running his own firm, the Barry Rental Company, leasing television sets to various entities.

Already possessing more entrepreneurial experience than almost all of his peers, Barry enrolled at the University of North Dakota and graduated in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, majoring in banking and finance. He went on a remarkable career in that industry. Going to work for the American National Bank and Trust in St. Paul, Minn., he rose through the ranks to become executive vice president and chief lending officer in less than a decade. In 1974 Barry started his own banking organization. In the course of 20 years he acquired nearly 30 banks with 940 employees in 88 locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. In 1998 Barry sold his banking organization to Norwest Bancorp., now Wells Fargo.

Barry has also owned a number of diversified financial services companies, a chemical manufacturing company, and an airline. Today, he is owner of MidAmerica Capital Partners, LLC, a firm providing services for Barry family business interests and family members. With his children Thomas, Michael and Jessica, he is extensively involved with The Barry Foundation, a nonprofit organization proactively focusing on the arts, education, environment, health, social entrepreneurship, and spirituality.

The Barry family and The Barry Foundation have supported the University in numerous ways, including a scholarship fund honoring the memory of student Dru Sjodin. Barry serves as co-chair of the National Campaign Steering Committee, guiding the University's $300 million fundraising drive, North Dakota Spirit: The Campaign for UND. He and the Foundation established the B. John Barry Family Challenge Grant, which has the potential to achieve a $40 million impact for the College of Business and Public Administration. The Barry Foundation created the Philanthropy and Youth (PaY) Program to foster leadership and service among high school students, and it has sponsored catalytic conversations among the area's colleges and universities to promote idea sharing and collaboration among business programs. Among his personal interests, Barry is former Chairman of the Board of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota and Honorary Board Member.

Dr. Warren Jensen
Dr. Warren Jensen is a professor in the Department of Aviation at the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. He also serves as the school's director of aeromedical research and as its flight surgeon. He received his bachelor's degree from UND in 1980 and came to work for the University in 1993 as a faculty member in aviation.

In nominating Dr. Jensen, Bruce Smith, dean of the Odegard School, wrote, "Put quite simply, Dr. Jensen is an invaluable asset to the Aerospace College, the University, and the State of North Dakota."

Smith also noted that: "Dr. Jensen is the integral faculty member providing his superior expertise to the Odegard School curriculum allowing us to be recognized national and internationally as the premier collegiate Aviation program."

Jensen received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1982 and did his post-graduate internship at Pacific Presbyterian Hospital in San Francisco in 1983. He earned a master's in aerospace medicine from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, in 1993 and completed the U.S. Air Force flight surgeon course at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas in 1994.

Jensen's research areas include human flight performance, decision-making in emergency settings and oxygen delivery systems. He teaches courses in the Odegard School's aviation and space studies departments in the area of human factors in aviation and aerospace physiology.

As a guest lecturer, Jensen has presented such topics as medical aspects of aviation safety, medical certification issues in the aviation industry, aerospace physiology, human factors in flight simulation design and many others. He is also involved in the continuing education of pilots in an aerospace physiology professional development coursed offered through the UND Aerospace Foundation.

Jensen serves as an academic advisor to 25-30 aviation undergraduate and graduate students. He is the aviation medical advisor to students, flight instructors and faculty for medical certification issues. He has authored and co-authored articles in such publication as the International Journal of Aviation and Psychology, Proceedings of the Military Health Conference and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Jensen is the recipient of UND's Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Humanism in Medicine Award from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Other service involvement includes serving as senior aviation medical examiner with air traffic control designation and assistant chair for faculty development in the Department of Aviation. He has also served as the state air surgeon for the North Dakota Air National Guard.

Paul Lindseth, associate dean for academics in aerospace science, wrote that Dr. Jensen's "superior performance as a professor of aviation, adjunct professor of space studies and teacher of second year medical students is very deserving of the Chester Fritz Professor award."

Lindseth continued, "Because of his reputation as a respected educator and researcher, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota sought out the University of North Dakota's Aerospace College to implement an Aerospace Medicine Residency program for newly minted physicians interested in pursuing a Flight Medicine/Flight Surgeon career. Furthermore, Dr. Jensen is a gifted medical care giver, taking time to travel to Central American countries during Spring Break for many years and providing medical care to At-risk children and adults."

UND ROTC commissioning
The UND Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps commissioning ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m., Saturday , May 12, at the Empire Arts Center. UND President Kelley and Colonel Timothy E. Bush, commander of the Grand Forks Air Force Base, will preside over the ceremony. The UND Army ROTC commissioning ceremony is slated to take place at 9 a.m., May 12, at
Burtness Theatre.

Legacy cords
For the first time, "legacy" students will be honored at spring commencement with a specific cord in UND colors to recognize the connection they share with their family members who have graduated before them. Students with UND graduates in their family history (parents, step-parents or grandparents) are considered legacies. Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to wear the cord.




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