David Nething, UND Law Class of '63, to Receive Honorary Degree

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Law


UND will hold commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 14, at the Chester Fritz Auditorium, and will award honorary degrees to two alumni -- a retired state legislator and a longtime state historian -- as part of the events.

David Nething, retired North Dakota legislator, will receive his honorary degree during the graduate and professional degrees ceremony, while Hiram Drache, professor emeritus, Concordia College in Moorhead, will receive his degree during the undergraduate ceremony.

Widely known as the "Dean" of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, Dave Nething retired in 2012 after a record of 46 years of public service.

Nething attended high school in Pingree, N.D., and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. He received his bachelor's degree from Jamestown College in 1956. Nething attended the UND School of Law, graduating in 1963 and serving on the staff of the North Dakota Law Review.

Practicing law in Jamestown, Nething first won election to the North Dakota Senate in 1966. He became the longest-serving Republican state senator in the United States and was majority leader for 12 years. In 1982, the National Republican Legislators Association honored him as their "Legislator of the Year" and in 1989 recognized him with the William E. Brock Award. He has also been honored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Affairs; he was reappointed by President Reagan in 1985 and 1987, and by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

Nething strived to be a "rational, logical, steady, results-oriented, tolerant" lawmaker and problem solver. Over the course of his long legislative service, he has seen the state budget grow from $115 million to $4 billion. He has served on numerous committees and the Legislative Council, and is particularly recognized for his work on higher education issues. Nething is known as the architect of the plan to provide budgetary flexibility, with accountability, to the individual institutions within the North Dakota University System. He has served as chair and an Executive Committee member on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, trustee on the Higher Learning Commission, and member of the Uniform Law Commission.

Nething has been extensively involved in professional and civic affairs, including the American Legion, Masonic Bodies, Rotary, the Elks, the State Bar Association of North Dakota, the Uniform Law Commission, the Presbyterian Church, and the North Dakota Affiliates of the Diabetic Association and American Heart Association. In 1995, the Greater North Dakota Association presented him with their highest honor, the "Greater North Dakotan" Award, and in 1996 the State Bar Association presented Nething its Legislative Service Award.

Dave and Marge Nething have three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He was elected to the Jamestown College Alumni Hall of Fame in 1987.

Nething delivered the main address at UND's 1999 winter commencement ceremony.