The University of North Dakota was founded in 1883, six years before North Dakota became a state. In an effort to bring some prestige to the new town of Grand Forks, one of its residents, George Walsh, submitted a blank piece of paper to the Territorial Legislature to secure the first bid for an institution of higher learning in Grand Forks. By the time the bill reached the Appropriations Committee, Walsh had a completed proposal for them, and the resolution was passed.
The campus was established on 20 acres of wheat fields surrounded by farms. The university’s first building, Old Main, stood in the middle of this field and served as the lone structure to meet all of the school’s needs. It had classrooms, offices, a chapel, library, museum, laboratories, and living quarters for both students and the university president.
The college expanded along with the town of Grand Forks. In 1918, however, the college’s population suffered at the hands of a vicious flu epidemic that killed 1,400 people in North Dakota alone. The school was shut down, turned into an army base, and remained closed for the remainder of WWI.
UND flourished briefly during the 1920s, but hardship would hit again in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Students had to struggle to pay tuition, and many were forced to live in converted railroad cabooses, a settlement that became known as Camp Depression. During WWII, the school’s enrollment plummeted to 775 students, mostly women, and the school was once again turned into an army base. After the war, however, enrollment swelled to 3,000 students, and UND began its gradual expansion, adding graduate schools and specialized programs.
In the 1970s, UND opened its most famous school, the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. Today, the college offers degrees in 193 undergraduate fields and 83 graduate programs.
UND’s campus consists of 235 buildings on 550 scenic acres located in the heart of Grand Forks. It stretches roughly 1.5 miles from east to west and is bisected by the English Coulee. The architectural style ranges from collegiate Gothic, mostly in the historic central campus, to modern in the more recently developed sections.
One of the most distinctive aspects of UND is its aerospace program, making the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences a source of campus pride and a symbol of the school's achievements and innovation. Located on the western side of campus, the building has a futuristic feel emblematic of its purpose. It features NASA-grade flight and air traffic control simulators, an altitude chamber, and an atmospherium.
The central part of campus contains many of UND’s historic buildings. It is home to most of the academic buildings on campus, including Chester Fritz Library, the largest library in North Dakota.
The northeast side of campus is home to the majority of UND’s residence halls, as well as the Wilkerson Dining Center. The upper-northwest side is where the new sports facilities are located, including the $104 million Ralph Engelstad Arena. On the easternmost side of campus are the Energy & Environmental Research Center and the Environmental Training Institute, which is housed in Old Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Grand Forks, the third-largest city in North Dakota, is a college town with a population of 50,000. It is located in Red River Valley, along the western banks of the Red River of the North, which makes the city prone to flooding. In fact, the Great Red River Flood of 1997 did colossal damage to university grounds and buildings. The city began as an important French-Native American trading post and grew gradually after the arrival of the Great American Railway in 1880.
Downtown Grand Forks is the oldest part of the city and contains many historic buildings from the 19th-century frontier days. However, plans are in the works to build more apartments and condos in the downtown area, allegedly in and around the historic neighborhoods.
Grand Forks is home to several parks, thanks to the Grand Forks Park District, established in 1905. The Park District operates 14 neighborhood parks and a host of tennis courts, playgrounds, baseball fields, ice skating rinks, and golf courses. The largest of the parks is the Greater Grand Forks Greenway, which runs the length of the Red River and includes festival grounds and wildflower gardens.
Life in Grand Forks is very closely tied to the University. Not only is UND located minutes from the downtown district, but it also pumps nearly $1 billion into the city’s economy. Aside from providing jobs and business opportunities, the University is also the chief purveyor of arts and culture in Grand Forks, bringing performing arts productions to the Chester Fritz Auditorium and hosting nationally-touring exhibits at the on-campus North Dakota Museum of Art.
Maxwell Anderson (1911) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, author, poet and lyricist. He founded The Playwrights Company, the members of which produced many of the notable plays of the 20th century.
Ronald Davies (1927) was the federal judge who ordered the integration of Little Rock Central High School during the Civil Rights Movement.
Karen Nyberg (1994) is a NASA astronaut who became the 50th woman in space.
Edward K. Thompson (1927) was one of the original editors of "Life" magazine and the founding editor and publisher of "Smithsonian" magazine.
UND offers 20 athletic programs and made the transition to NCAA Division I during the 2007-2008 school year. Previously, only the men’s and women’s hockey teams competed at the Division I level.
The UND mascot is the Fighting Sioux, a controversial nickname that has been called racist and offensive by several local Sioux tribes. If the school cannot settle the dispute by 2011, the NCAA declared that UND will have to change their nickname. The official school colors are green and pink, supposedly in honor of the prairie rose, North Dakota’s state flower. However, these colors are seldom used in combination with one another—instead, black or white is typically substituted for the pink.
The people of North Dakota live and breathe hockey. The Sioux men’s hockey team is one of the most decorated teams at UND. Their newly opened Ralph Engelstad Hockey Arena is a $104 million state-of-the-art hockey facility that has been heralded as one of the greatest hockey facilities in the world. The team has won seven national championships and been runner-up five times since 1959.
UND is one of 47 public universities in the nation with accredited graduate schools in both law and medicine.
UND is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a doctoral/research-intensive institution.
In May 2006, UND students unveiled a space suit they developed for use in future missions to Mars. The suit weighs 47 pounds and costs only a fraction of the production costs for NASA’s current $22 million space suit.
UND has 14 residence halls; an apartment community with 800 single, double and three bedroom units; and a new, apartment-style residence hall called University Place.
University Place opened in fall 2007 and is a state of the art, LEED-certified, 108,000-square-foot building that houses apartment-style dorm rooms. Each apartment features a furnished living room, full kitchen, microwave, and dishwasher. It houses four students in either single- or double-occupancy bedrooms. The first floor conveniently houses a coffee shop.
Most of the residence halls feature double rooms, with limited single rooms available. Bathrooms are either communal hall bathrooms or suite-style bathrooms in which two double rooms are joined by a shared bath area. Each residence hall floor is equipped with a kitchenette and laundry facilities, and some halls have special amenities. Bek Hall, for example, has a TV lounge area in the basement, complete with pool and ping-pong tables, as well as a sauna.
UND’s on-campus apartments are typically reserved for non-traditional students—-either students with families or those over the age of 23.