Dorothy Eberhart was a woman of generous proportions
with a warm, welcoming smile, the quintessential campus cafeteria matron. She also was generous with
portions, in extra helpings heaped on the plates of Bison athletes, and in words of encouragement and
For 24 years she was a touch of home away from home. She was Mama Bison, known simply as 'Mama to the coaches, trainers and students who ate in the Residence Dining Center.
Eberhart went out of her way to provide a personal touch for her extended family, looking for 'monotony breakers such as special holiday dinners, a January Circus Night and Cram Snacks during exam weeks. 'We get as personal with our students as they want to, she once said. 'If they want to bring in a favorite recipe from home, we'll try it out.
She developed an interest in student-athletes and their needs, meeting special menu requests and providing ice and sick trays to injured players. Although she had never attended a basketball game before joining NDSU, she and her husband, Walt, soon had season tickets for basketball and football.
'She was just a really critical part of our program, said Jim Wacker, former NDSU football coach, now athletic director at Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos. 'She thought of our athletes as her own, and was kind of like a mom to them. The players and coaches looked to her for that kind of support, and it was always there. She was a very special lady.
Eberhart also attended as many out-of-town games as possible. On one such trip, NDSU students talking to her on CB asked if she had 'a handle, then suggested 'Mama Bison. Wacker started using the name around campus and it stuck. In later years she parked her car with 'MABISON plates in a spot marked, 'Reserved for Mama Bison.
'She loved being called Mama Bison,' said her daughter, Doris Hebert, who purchased a tile in her mother's honor with sister Pan Hall. 'It's a neat legacy for Mom and all that NDSU meant to her.
She retired in March 1988, the same month her cafeteria was dedicated the Dorothy Eberhart Dining Center. She died Sept. 8, 1991.