University of Mary Presents More Than 1,000 Degrees to Largest-Ever Graduating Class


Bismarck, ND (Updated from April 21 release) - On Saturday, April 30, the University of Mary, America's Leadership University, recognized 990 graduates with a total of 1,001 degrees, at its 2011 commencement, in the Bismarck Civic Center. This was the largest graduating class in the university's history and the first time that the number of degrees awarded in a given year reached the 1,000 mark. (View video of full graduation ceremony here.)

Carrying forward the vision of its founders and sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation, to prepare leaders in the service of truth, the university celebrated the achievements of graduates at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels, in 39 undergraduate majors and 22 post-graduate areas. It also conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Martin White, a leader in the world of commerce, known internationally for his commitment to and exemplification of ethical business practices. White also delivered the commencement address: "Thoughts From A Supposedly Retired Businessman and World Traveler."

During the ceremony, the University of Mary awarded a total of 509 undergraduate and 458 master's degrees. This year, for the first time, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) and Bachelor of Arts in Nursing (B.A.N.) were be among the degrees granted. The university also celebrated its sixth and largest doctoral class, conferring the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree on 34 graduates. Attesting to the university's emphasis on academic excellence, 103 undergraduate degrees were be awarded cum laude; 57, magna cum laude; and 27, summa cum laude. Eighty-two students, representing the University of Mary's School of Arts and Sciences, Gary Tharaldson School of Business, School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and School of Health Sciences, were awarded the Certified Schafer Leader designation.

This year's graduating class included outstanding men and women from 31 states and 15 foreign countries (Albania, Canada, Central African Republic, England, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Romania and Serbia).

One hundred and fifty baccalaureate degrees and 382 master's degrees were awarded to graduates who completed their program through distance education, including online.

"It is exciting and gratifying to be able to share this milestone in their lives with these many fine graduates and their families," said Father James Shea, president. "As they take their knowledge forward in their diverse professional and personal journeys, we are confident that they will also carry forth the values, moral courage and sense of community that have been so much a part of their education at Mary. And we know that as they continue to learn and grow, they will help to shape a better tomorrow for their communities and the world."

White To Be Awarded Honorary Doctorate
A highlight of Commencement 2011 was the University of Mary's presentation of a Doctor of Leadership and Philanthropy, honoris causa, to Martin White. This honorary degree recognizes White's contributions in promoting servant leadership and ethical business practices in the regional, national and international business community and among the student business leaders of tomorrow. (See following bio.) An honorary doctorate is the highest honor bestowed by the University of Mary beyond the granting of earned degrees. Only 27 individuals previously have been recognized with this distinction.

The University of Mary ceremonial mace, a symbol of leadership, which debuted at Commencement 2009, again was carried by senior faculty member Father Victor Feser. It is a tangible expression of the Benedictine values of the university's founders, the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation, which reflects the bridging of centuries of tradition and learning with the university's responsibility to the future.

U-Mary Recognizes Outstanding Senior Nominees
In graduation-related events, the University of Mary Alumni Association recognized Kelle Bacon of Edgeley, ND, as 2011 Outstanding Senior at the annual President's Breakfast for nominees and invited guests, hosted by Father Shea, Saturday, April 30.

Nominees for 2011 Outstanding Senior were: Andrew Adams, Thompson, ND; Kelle Bacon, Edgeley, ND; Marley Edinger, Carrington, ND; Molly Hanwell, Hazen, ND; Cassandra Kelsch, Mandan, ND; Kyla Kinzler, Ellendale, ND; Ciara Martel, Bismarck, ND; Bailey Newland, Harlowton, MT; and Alyson Piccolo, Stanwood, WA.

Baccalaureate Celebration
A Baccalaureate Mass was held in the Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel, in the Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership, on Friday, April 29, for graduating students, family, guests, community and faculty.

America's Leadership University is ‘On the Grow'
The University of Mary remains one of the region's fastest-growing institutions of higher learning, with ongoing expansion of its areas of study, degree programs and delivery options. The number of graduates has grown from six in 1960 to 645 in 2000, first passing the 700 mark in 2001. The Class of 2011 comprises 990 graduates.

The university offers undergraduate majors and various pre-professional concentrations and a dual-degree, pre-engineering program. It also offers master's degrees in business administration, counseling, education, nursing, occupational therapy, project management, and strategic leadership, as well as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Certificate programs in servant leadership, human resource management, and college and adult teaching also are available.

The University of Mary continues to take leadership and its commitment to serving the people in the region and beyond to a new level. Recent initiatives include:

· The restructuring of the university into four schools (School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Gary Tharaldson School of Business, School of Health Sciences) to carry forward U-Mary's core value of community and to better position the university for the future

· The addition of a Master of Science in respiratory therapy option, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), Bachelor of Arts in Nursing (B.A.N.) and Bachelor of Music (B.M.) and an undergraduate major in sacred music to U-Mary's 48 undergraduate majors

· The launch of the University of Mary Rome campus, offering students the opportunity to study in Rome at the same cost as at the Bismarck campus (

· The Catholic Scholars Program, allowing students who have graduated from Catholic high schools to have free room and board on campus while attending as first-time freshmen (

· The Catholic Studies Program, which began in fall 2010, marking U-Mary's becoming one of fewer than 50 colleges and universities across the United States and the only institution of higher learning in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming with such a program (

· The university's expanded 2011 summer session, with courses in online, on-site, and blended delivery formats starting in May, June and July that are open to any high school graduate, as well as current U-Mary and other college students.

Programs are offered in Bismarck at the main (residential) and downtown campus, and at 18 sites in six states, through the University of Mary Centers for Accelerated and Distance Education. To learn more about the growing number of opportunities at U-Mary, visit

Martin White
2011 Honorary Degree Recipient & Commencement Speaker

Martin White's integrity, values, and commitment to service have set him apart in both his personal and professional life, bringing him success and promoting ethical leadership to a generation by example. A respected leader in international commerce, he has combined Midwestern values with a global perspective drawn from hands-on experience in business arenas around the world.

Born in Whitehall, MT, and raised in nearby Butte, White holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and economics from Montana State University and completed Harvard's Advanced Management Program and Senior Executive Update. He worked for Montana Power for 22 years, and then moved to South America and established a new mining venture. He subsequently started his own consulting company.

In 1991, he joined MDU Resources as vice president of corporate development. He became president and chief executive officer in 1997 and chairman of the board in 2001. Between 1997 and 2005, MDU's revenues grew from about $607 million to $3.5 billion, and its earnings increased from $54 million to $274.4 million. "Martin would be the first person to credit his management team and his employees for this success," noted Harry Pearce, who succeeded him as chairman of the board. "But his strong leadership, unwavering integrity and commitment to the corporation's vision statement are truly what made everything come together."

In 2003, MDU Resources was named the best-managed utility company in the country by Forbes Magazine, and in 2004, White was named one of the Four Best Executives at the Second Annual American Business Awards. He received North Dakota's Governor's Choice for Economic Development Ambassador of the Year Award in 2004 and the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce's Greater North Dakotan award in 2005. A competitive speedskater in his youth, who tried out for the U.S. Olympics in 1960 and again in 1964 - when he achieved first alternate status - Martin also shared his passion for the sport and his dedication to youth as a coach. His leadership in promoting the sport, including helping to spearhead the development of a training facility for speedskaters in Butte, MT, has created a legacy for future generations.

But the greatest testament to White's leadership is not what he has accomplished, but how he has done it, by incorporating his values and beliefs in his approach to business and life. He attributes his success to hard work; being flexible; a good background of experience; working with great people; the support of his wife, Sheila, and his children; and being blessed by God.

A speaker, consultant, and advisor, he gives generously of his time, expertise, experience, and energy to furthering the development of principled, as well as skilled, leaders for North Dakota and global business and industry. He has served on the boards of numerous businesses and civic organizations and chaired the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation. And since retiring as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of MDU Resources in 2006, he has served as chair of the University of Mary's Board of Trustees, and he was the first dean of the university's Gary Tharaldson School of Business.

In addition to carrying forward his profound affection for the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation through his service to Mary, White, along with his wife Sheila, is also a devoted and active member of his parish, St. Joseph's in Mandan.

White once said that his father, "was not only a father, but a mentor" in his early life, who always challenged him to do his own thinking and to rely on his own values when making decisions. Martin White has done this himself and continues to challenge and guide others to do so as well.