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UND makes tour stop in Rugby

By Staff | Aug 23, 2013

Chris Bieri/PCT University of North Dakota faculty and administrators tour Johnson Farms east of Rugby during an annual bus tour.

Melissa Gjellstad was raised in Velva.

But Gjellstad, a language professor at University of North Dakota, spent most of her adult life in Norway.

Gjellstad had a chance to return to her roots during this year’s annual statewide bus tour for new administrators and faculty at UND. This year’s tour had nearly 40 passengers on board.

The three-day tour departed from Grand Forks on Aug. 19, making stops in Fordville, Ft. Totten, Minot, Velva, New Town and Tioga before stopping in Rugby.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to come back as a professional and become reacquainted with the state agin,” Gjellstad said.

University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley stands with Scott Johnson before taking a ride in one of the tractors at Johnson Farms.

Gjellstad was able to drive by her family’s old farm and make a stop at Black Butte near Velva, where Jerry and Norma Effertz have traditionally cooked dinner for the traveling group.

She said it’s an opportunity she wouldn’t have had during the school year.

“Once we start teaching, all of the faculty are busy, so the opportunity to push pause and get to the home towns of our students and meet our alumni is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I enjoy discovering the depth and diversity of the state.”

In Rugby, the group stopped at Johnson Farms east of town and made a trip to the Heart of America Medical Center.

Debbie Storrs was recently named the Dean of Arts and Sciences at UND, coming from Idaho to take the job. An Alaska native, she felt at home in the state.

Kelley was part of an annual tour of the state with new faculty and adminstrators which stopped in Rugby on Wednesday. Chris Bieri/PCT

“I spent most of my time in Alaska, Idaho and now North Dakota,” Storrs said. “There are a lot of commonalities between the three states. Very rural, kind of conservative, but that frontier spirit.”

She believes her Arts and Sciences school is ideally positioned to help North Dakota handle its tremendous growth.

“Think about the kinds of skills,” she said, “Communication, problem-solving, critical thinking. All of the kinds of skills you need to help to figure out how to manage this population growth.”

Dr. Hesham El-Rewini, dean of the College of Engineering and Mines, found the portion of the trip to the western third of the state of great interest.

“I think the future of North Dakota is bright, to say the least,” he said. “We are one of the few states with a surplus in budget.”

UND has been a pioneer in energy development and El-Rewini is continuing to see interest in the engineering and mines programs.

“UND started a new program in petroleum engineering three years ago,” he said. “We started with four students. Last spring, we had 135 and this fall we are expecting to hit the 200 mark. That’s exponential growth.”

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