VandeWalle receives Honorary Degree from UND

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News Article

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School of Law


Kathleen Neset, vice chair of the State Board of Higher Education, told UND graduates Saturday they never know where their lives may lead.

When I was a student in Washington, N.J., and Providence, R.I., you never could have told me that my life path would have brought me to a farm northeast of Tioga, N.D.," she said. "And yet that is where I am and proudly working to help our great state provide energy as a geologist in the oil industry."

Neset spoke before those who gathered for UND's 127th general spring commencement ceremony at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The university reported a total 2,050 degree-holders this spring, including graduate, law and medical students.

During the ceremony, college officials recognized two faculty with the university's highest academic honor, the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship, and two alumni with honorary degrees, Farm Rescue president and founder Bill Gross and Gerald VandeWalle, chief justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court.

VandeWalle is the longest serving chief justice in the history of North Dakota, the longest serving among all current chief justices in the nation and he was just reelected this year, said Kathryn Rand, dean of the School of Law.

"You have played an instrumental role in modernizing and unifying the court system in North Dakota," she said. "You have enhanced the education of our law students through your presentations and the North Dakota Supreme Court sessions at the School of Law."

VandeWalle is known for his "gracious manner and straightforward approach" to law, she said.