Challey Spotlight: David Withee

|   Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth is highlighting the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Community Member, David Withee.

Challey Spotlight: David Withee

Community Member

David Withee is an 18-month resident of West Fargo, after moving here from Wisconsin with his wife. He found out about the Challey Institute, shortly after settling into the Fargo area, and has been a regular guest attending our events. Spending most of his career in business, David is now retired, but continues to be actively engaged with the community.

David, tell us how you first learned about the Challey Institute.   

I learned about it by reading the newspaper. I've been a daily reader of the newspaper since before middle school and I tend to read it from front to back. I was just reading the paper last fall one morning, and there was a small article saying, Sam Peltzmann is going to be speaking at the Challey Institute at North Dakota State University and I thought, oh that sounds really cool. I mean if you know anything about economics, you know about the University of Chicago. So, I went and just fell in love with the whole program. There hasn't been something like this offered in other places I've lived, and I thought, where's this been hiding all my life? Well, it's been hiding in North Dakota. I'm really glad we moved here, so I can participate in this. 

How does the Challey Institute enhance your life? 

I've always been intrigued by rural areas. I think that's partially because my great-grandparents are immigrants to this country and settled in rural areas. Especially when you look at things like how many jobs are created by small manufacturers and small companies as opposed to the big ones. When you add them all up there's a lot of people employed in small areas. I've always been intrigued by the question of how do we continue the development of rural areas. Exploring these topics and others, listening to Challey's speakers talking from an application standpoint rather than just from a theory perspective has added great benefit to my life. 

Tell us about a favorite Challey event or experience you've had.  

That is pretty difficult to answer because I am a firm believer that you can learn something from everybody.

Ian Rowe was just wonderful and we were fortunate to have him twice. Once as a Menard Speaker and also once as a Human Progress and Flourishing Speaker. I really like his words on agency, not equity. Results are not necessarily a result of external forces. Results are a matter of maintenance and personal preferences. Take the politics out of it and it becomes pretty common sense stuff that most people ignore because they get all hyped on the negatives and things.

I just find that every speaker in some way provides something that is like a light bulb going off. I never thought about it that way, I never would have thought to look at this way type of thing. I just enjoy all the speakers.  


The Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions, and human potential to identify policies and solutions for the betterment of society. Learn more at
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