Cindy Juntunen and Sharon Carson named newest awardees of UND’s highest academic honor

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Cindy Juntunen and Sharon Carson named newest awardees of UND’s highest academic honor

University of North Dakota faculty members Cindy Juntunen and Sharon Carson recently were greeted with the surprise of their academic careers.

In separate moments, each taking place in their respective University office locations, the longtime UND professors learned that they had been selected as the school’s newest Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors. The professorship is the highest academic honor that is bestowed at UND.

At the College of Education & Human Development, where Juntunen currently serves as a full professor and training director for the counseling psychology doctoral program, UND President Robert Kelley and Provost Thomas DiLorenzo approached her unannounced while she was in the middle of an important planning session over the noon hour. Suddenly Juntunen was swarmed by a flash mob of well-wishing friends and colleagues, many of whom knew little about what the big announcement would entail, only that they were there for something special.

“This is such a special moment here at UND,” DiLorenzo said to Juntunen, as he broke the news. “The Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship Award recognizes demonstrated achievement across research, teaching and service among other things, and your vitae speaks volumes as to these achievements. Some said you will be the last to speak about [your] accomplishments, but today you can brag all you want.”

Juntunen, still moved by the unexpected good news, thanked the crowd of about 50 people for their support.

“I am a little overwhelmed and clearly quite surprised,” she said, holding back tears of joy. “This means an awful lot to me. I am a graduate of UND, and Chester Fritz is somebody that North Dakotans hear about from a very young age, so it’s a pretty big deal.”

A 21-year veteran at UND, Juntunen was named associate dean of research and graduate studies at the College of Education & Human Development in 2006. In 2008, Juntunen was elected chair of the prestigious Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs, a national organization that aims to advance all aspects of counseling psychology training and teaching. Also, since 1994, Juntunen has worked in the UND Department of Counseling, where she is a past chair.

Over the years, Juntunen has conducted research and published on topics such as counseling psychology training and supervision, vocational psychology, and American Indian career development.

Juntunen, a native of Rocklake, N.D., earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at UND, and received a master of arts degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. She completed a pre-doctoral internship at the University of Missouri, and received her Ph.D., in counseling psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

‘Vague vibe’

For Carson’s surprise announcement, people crowded into the entrance of the English Department office suite in Merrifield Hall; there was excitement in the air.

“I had a sense that today something just wasn’t the same ? it felt a little different,” said Carson, who has been at UND since 1990. “There was just a vague vibe. (This award) means a lot to me, especially since I know it involves people speaking for me, and that’s very moving.”

Said DiLorenzo, who, again, made the announcement with President Kelley, “People came out of the woodwork saying how wonderful you are, and students cherish you. I want to take a class from you!”

Carson, a UND English professor, received her associate’s degree in emergency mental health/crisis intervention from Seattle Central Community College in 1977, her bachelor’s degree in communication/editorial journalism from the University of Washington in 1982, and both her master’s (1986) and Ph.D. (1990) degrees in English from the University of Washington.

Carson’s academic specialties include American literature, black literature and interdisciplinary black studies, comparative religions and literatures; Bibles as literature, cross-national and comparative study, literature of the American left, Homeric epic; narrative journalism, audio documentary and audio drama.

About the award:

The Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship was 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 member(s), who, thereafter, may use the title "Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor."

Juntunen and Carson join the 73 other UND faculty members, who, over the years, have received the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship Award. The provost appoints a selection committee to make recommendations for the professorship award based on specific selection criteria.

They will officially receive their Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship awards at UND’s General Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 16 at the Alerus Center.

About Chester Fritz:

Chester Fritz attended UND from 1908-1910. He became an international trader in precious metals and lived most of his life in China and Europe. In establishing the endowment for his namesake professorships ? just one of his many gifts to UND ? he said it would be an “investment in the future of my Alma Mater and of the people who make the future what it shall be.” He added, “I am especially indebted to the fine teachers, who, in the end, have determined in large measure how will I was able to learn and to use the knowledge that UND could provide.”

Amy Halvorson & David Dodds University & Public Affairs writers

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