Heitkamp Draws Crowd for Wenstrom Lecture

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News Article

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College of Business & Public Administration


On her 100th day in office, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) gave the 2013 Wenstrom Lecture to an overflow crowd of about 250 people at the Gorecki Alumni Center. The April 12 event was believed to be one of the biggest Wenstrom Lectures ever. Heitkamp is an alumna of the Political Science and Public Administration program at UND.

"This was an exciting day for our students and department," said Paul Sum, Professor and Chair of Political Science and Public Administration. The department sponsored the event. "Any time a sitting U.S. Senator can be on campus to speak and interact with students, we consider it a great enhancement to their education. Plus, the speech drew fantastic community interest."

Students, along with faculty, community members, and alumni packed the Gorecki Alumni Center for Heitkamp's address. She spoke not only on the experience of her first 100 days in the U.S. Senate, but addressed students directly, noting that after her undergraduate years, she had planned to complete law school and begin a law practice.

But passion for the cause of domestic violence drew her in to politics when she was still in her mid 20s, not much older, she noted, than most of the students in the audience. And because of encouragement and debate from her former professors and political mentors -- and challengers – among them Lloyd Omdahl, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Administration, and on the other side of the aisle, Earl Strinden, CEO Emeritus of the UND Alumni Foundation, she became one of the young, new generation of North Dakotans in politics and public service in the 1980s, working her way to the office of State Attorney General. Omdahl and Strinden were in the audience for the Wenstrom lecture.

Heitkamp encouraged students to follow their passion for public service and deftly responded to their wide-ranging questions following her address.

The late Frank E. Wenstrom was known for his public service as state Senator, former Lieutenant Governor, and President of the second Constitutional Convention for the state of North Dakota. The annual Wenstrom Lecture is focused in his honor around issues current in North Dakota politics or public affairs and is sponsored by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration also receives support from the Frank and Esther Wenstrom Endowment through the UND Alumni Foundation.