The Men Who Started It All


Ashley Marquis

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines


The College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines is highlighting the CFSTC for its many years of outstanding service. Several articles are planned to focus attention on the accomplishments of the center and its many distinguished employees over the years. This article continues that process with a look back on the individuals who started the CFSTC.

Long before Dr. Kenneth Dawes and Donald Schmid collaborated to establish the Family and Children Services Training Center at the University of North Dakota the two men came to know and respect each other through academic and professional means. Dawes was actually a professor of Schmid's at one point and the two even worked together. Both men have had long standing, professional careers that both began where they ended up meeting each other again, at the University of North Dakota.

In 1954, Dawes arrived at UND planning to study pre-law. At the time there was a program that combined pre-law and social work courses to prepare lawyers to work in the juvenile court system. Eventually, Dawes found his true passion in social work and got a degree in that.

"I think I felt that law was too static and I was more interested in social work and change," Dawes said.

Dawes practiced in the social work field for many years and eventually became a professor at UND and chaired the department in 1980. Dawes stepped down as chairman in 1991 and moved his office into the Office of Research and Program Development where he served in a position similar to the Vice President of Research.

"I had a great career," Dawes said. "I worked a lot of places."

Dawes was serving as Chair of the Social Work department when Schmid contacted him proposing the idea of having training for the social workers in the state of North Dakota held at the university.

Schmid's interest in social work came when he first took a sociology course in 1957 at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, ND and loved it. Schmid asked his instructor after class one day what he could do within sociology and he suggested that Schmid major in social work and get a doctorate in sociology. After hearing that information, Schmid contacted his local county director who worked in social work and learned that that man had a master's degree in social work and Schmid decided that was what he was going to do. After taking the next sociology course at Lake Region State College, Schmid transferred to UND his sophomore year and studied social work and philosophy.

"I had a great education at the University of North Dakota," Schmid said.

As part of his education at UND, Schmid was able to work as a student social worker at a county social work office in Minnewaukan, ND. The opportunity made Schmid sure that he wanted to work in public welfare.

To further his education, Schmid traveled halfway across the country to New York and attended Columbia University where he received a Master's degree in social work. After graduation, Schmid worked in various positions around the state of North Dakota and eventually became the director for the division of family and children services within the Department of Human Services. When the CFSTC was formed, Schmid was serving as deputy director.

The two men worked together to establish the CFSTC along with help from many others.

"Ken is one of the most outstanding educators the state has ever known," Schmid said. "He has high principles, wonderful integrity, really an outstanding man. I have so much respect for him."

Dawes has equally as high of praise for Schmid as well.

"Don is a great man," Dawes said. "We have a good collegiate and personal relationship."

As time went on, both men eventually retired but are staying busy just as they always have been. Dawes was the chair for a committee for the 125th anniversary of UNDs foundation. Currently, he teaches for the Olli (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) program at UND which is a program that provides education opportunities for adults 50 and over. Classes he has taught range from the Jewish community in Grand Forks, to poor farms in North Dakota and even the Ku Klux Klan in Grand Forks.

Schmid works for Schmid and Associates which provides consultation and specialization in child and family policy, planning, training and funding to public, private and tribal human service agencies.

Both men also fund scholarships for social work students at the University of North Dakota.

"It is rewarding to see it started thirty years ago and it is still operating and is now a national model. It is vibrant and changing," Schmid said while reflecting on the CFSTC. "Professionally, it is one of the things I am really proud that I helped create."