UND set to award honorary degrees

Cortnie Cottrell, News Writer

UND is awarding four honorary degrees to former students, the first will be awarded to actor Josh Duhamel at the Spring 2019 graduation ceremony. The other three award recipients are former Senator Heidi Hietkamp, aviation legend Clay Lacy and Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm. The date for receiving the award to Hietkamp, Hamm and Lacy has not been determined yet.

An honorary degree is an academic degree that waives the traditional requirements, such as enrollment, residence, a capstone course, and the passing of comprehensive examinations. Members of the University Council are asked to nominate outstanding individuals for an honorary degree to be awarded at commencement ceremonies, in which many schools present the degree to famous alumni. Honorary degrees were first introduced and awarded at Harvard University in 1692 and have been continued in many universities since.

North Dakota native and Hollywood actor, Duhamel was born in Minot, North Dakota and before his acting debut, the football player earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at Minot State University with the intention of pursuing dentistry. By chance, he got into show business and modeling which eventually lead him to acting. He went on to star many different TV shows and movies and was previously married to the famous singer, Fergie.

Duhamel will be attending an event the Friday before graduation to honor new faculty members and other honorary degree recipients.

“We are extremely proud to have Mr. Duhamel as an unwavering ambassador for the University of North Dakota and our entire state,” UND President Mark Kennedy said. “He has shown himself to be a champion of North Dakota throughout his acclaimed movie career, demonstrating to audiences around the world the tremendous talent we produce in our communities.”

Heidi Heitkamp was born and raised in Mantador, North Dakota, and graduated from UND with a double major undergraduate degree in history and political science. In 1986, she was hired as the Tax Commissioner of North Dakota in which she served as from 1988-1992. Heitkamp won election for Attorney General of North Dakota in 1992 and later became the first woman from North Dakota to be elected as the U.S. Senate.

Throughout Heitkamp’s career, she has continued to be available to UND students and has supported the University’s mission in many ways. She has regularly been involved with UND political science students and in 2013, Heitkamp delivered the annual Frank Wenstrom lecture to an audience of students, staff, faculty and community members. Heitkamp is a big advocate for striving to better ourselves by standing up for others, helping others and that public service is important. Also in 2017, Heitkamp worked with the University in hosting a day-long conference on Arctic policy.

Clay Lacy began his service in 2006 on the UND Aerospace Foundation Board and, through his greater knowledge of business aviation, provided financial advice to save the Foundation millions of dollars.

Lacy also is the founder and chief executive officer of Clay Lacy Aviation, which was established in 1968. This was the first executive jet charter company in the western United States. Lacy has flown more than 300 aircraft types, accumulated more than 50,000 flight hours and collected more hours flying turbine aircraft than any other pilot in the entire world.

Harold Hamm has provided valuable service to UND that has significantly enhanced student opportunities and learning. In 2012, he established two scholarships and two professorships at UND.

Hamm founded his own oil company named, Continental. His company is an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company in which he serves as its chairman and CEO.

Hamm has visited UND numerous times over the years to meet with students and faculty of the College of Engineering & Mines and the nearby Laird Core and Sample Library, keeping him a true legend at the university.

Along with other honorary degree recipients, UND is proud to be giving these awards to such great alumni and legends of North Dakota.