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2011 Distinguished Alumni named







The fifth annual NDSU Distinguished Alumni Award Program is scheduled for April. Sponsored by each of the colleges at NDSU, the program recognizes accomplishments of outstanding alumni and educates students by introducing them to successful alumni in their respective fields of study.

The distinguished alumni will share career-related experiences and knowledge and will meet and give presentations to the NDSU community. All classroom presentations and seminars are free and open to the public.

College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources
John F. Soper, vice president of crop genetics research and development for Pioneer Hi-Bred, earned his doctorate in agronomy from NDSU in 1987. After graduation, he began his professional career with Pioneer as a soybean breeder in Redwood Falls, Minn. He advanced quickly in the company being named regional director of soybean research in 1994 and director of sunflower research in 1995. At the end of his tenure as sunflower director, he assumed oversight responsibility for sorghum, rice, millet and alfalfa product development. In 2001, he was named director of Pioneer’s soybean research team. Soper was promoted to his current position in 2010. He oversees research and product development efforts for all of the commercial seed products worldwide. His team consists of more than 2,000 research employees working at 104 locations in 24 countries.

Soper is involved in several professional organizations including the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and American Seed Trade Association. He has maintained strong ties with the NDSU Department of Plant Sciences by hiring plant breeding graduates and initiating a program for local Pioneer employees to pursue graduate studies at NDSU.

Soper is scheduled to present a seminar at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, in Sudro 24. For more information, contact Patti Sebesta at patti.sebesta@ndsu.eduor 1-8524.

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Duane Champagne is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa from North Dakota. He is professor of sociology and American Indian studies, member of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the UCLA Native Nations Law and Policy Center, former senior editor for Indian Country Today, member of the Tribal Learning Community and Educational Exchange Working Group and contributor of the education chapter to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues’ State of the World's Indigenous Peoples Report. Champagne was director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center from 1991 to 2002 and editor of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal from 1986 to 2003. He wrote or edited more than 125 publications including Social Change and Cultural Continuity Among Native Nations; Native America: Portraits of the Peoples; The Native North American Almanac; Social Order and Political Change: Constitutional Governments Among the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Creek; Social Change and Cultural Continuity Among Native Nations; and Notes From the Center of Turtle Island. Champagne’s research and writings focus on issues of social and cultural change in both historical and contemporary Native American communities; the study of justice institutions in contemporary American Indian reservations, including policing, courts and incarceration; and policy analysis of cultural, economic and political issues in contemporary Indian country. He has written about social and cultural change in a variety of Indian communities including Cherokee, Tlingit, Iroquois, Delaware, Choctaw, Northern Cheyenne, Creek, California Indians and others. Champagne earned his bachelor’s in mathematics in 1973, a bachelor’s in sociology in 1975 and a master’s in sociology in 1976 all from NDSU. He earned his doctorate in 1982 from Harvard.

Champagne will give two classroom presentations. The first will be Thursday, April 7, from 2 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. in FLC room 313. The second will be Friday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. in Morrill room 109. For more information, contact Keri Drinka at or 1-6131.

College of Business
The College of Business will be honoring their distinguished alumnus in fall of 2011. Please look for information in “It’s Happening at State” about the presentation.

College of Engineering and Architecture
The College of Engineering and Architecture will be honoring their distinguished alumnus in fall of 2011. Please look for information in “It’s Happening at State” about the presentation.

College of Human Development and Education
Peg Portscheller is president of Portscheller & Associates: Pathways to Results, an education consulting firm dedicated to providing training, mentoring, performance coaching, audits and on-site support to educators and education systems around the country. 

Portscheller previously was chief learning officer for the Leadership and Learning Center, a nationally renowned education consulting and publishing company based in Denver and Boston. In that capacity, she supervised 50 consultants and the work they did with school districts across the country.

Portscheller’s is one of the few educators in the country who has been both a union leader, serving as a state president for two terms, and a superintendent. In her tenure as both a teacher and a superintendent, Portscheller received “educator of the year” and “superintendent of the year” honors.

During nearly four decades, Portscheller has taught at the middle and high school levels, plus the higher education arena. She also has experiences in leadership, curriculum, instruction, staff development, assessment and data, and system reform. She served for 15 years as a board member of Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning and led their policy work during the reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind act. Portscheller also served as executive director of the Colorado Association of School Executives and as executive in residence at Adams State in Colorado.

Portscheller is a skilled presenter, facilitator, coach, speaker and trainer. She has served as the state affiliate ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) president in two different states and as a leader in Phi Delta Kappa, the American Association of University Women and the American Association of School Administrators.

Portscheller is a North Dakota native who earned her bachelor's degree from Dickinson State and master's degree in educational leadership from NDSU. She conducted doctoral work at the University of Wyoming. She was a teacher and administrator for more than 20 years in Minot, N.D., and an administrator in Colorado for more than a dozen years.

Portscheller also has done work with Microsoft, CTB McGraw Hill, Scholastic, Quizdom, Collaborative Learning, Dell, Pearson and other companies that work in the field of education.

Portscheller’s consulting work focuses on aspects of school improvement from curriculum, instruction, personnel and implementation audits to conflict resolution, strategic planning facilitation, teacher/administrator training, leadership development, capacity building and accountability alignment.

Her experiences in diverse school systems give her credibility with audiences and groups, and her warmth and sense of humor put people at ease while inviting them to explore new possibilities. As Portscheller puts it, “This is first and foremost a ‘business’ of the heart. When the heart is engaged, the mind can deal with changes that need to be made in service to kids.”

Portscheller will be on campus Wednesday, April 27. For more information, contact Nancy Gress at or1-8216.

College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences
The College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences will honor two alumni: Jo Burdick and Tony Welder. 

Jo Burdick is vice president of patient services/chief nurse executive in the Sanford Health Network Fargo region. She is responsible for surpervising nursing and patient services in the Sanford owned and managed critical access hospitals, and the operations of Sanford Home Care and Sanford HealthCare Accessories serving a multi-county region in North Dakota and Minnesota. 

Burdick has been active with the North Dakota Nurses Association and has served on the board of directors, government relations chair, District IV president and numerous other committees to advance the practice of nursing. She has served as president and public policy chair of the North Dakota Home Care Association and served four years on the National Association for Home Care board of directors as region VIII representative. 

Other professional activities and organizations include past chair of the American Heart Association board of directors for North and South Dakota, North Dakota Health Care Review Quality Council, North Dakota Board of Nursing Practice Committee, Sigma Theta Tau, Xi Kappa at large member and appointee to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid technical expert panel for home care. Burdick also was chair of the Minnesota State University Moorhead Alumni Foundation board of directors and continues to serve as past chair. In 2009, she taught a health policy, health system and finance class for the NDSU Department of Nursing.

Burdick earned her associate degree in nursing from NDSU, Bachelor of Science in nursing from Minnesota State University Moorhead, and master’s degree in nursing from the University of North Dakota where her area of study was rural health nursing and behavioral health risks of women in a rural community.

For more information, contact Sara Wald at or 1-6461.

Tony Welder is a graduate of Napoleon (N.D.) High School and a 1961 graduate of the NDSU College of Pharmacy.

After practicing in a clinic pharmacy for six years, he bought his first store in his hometown of Napoleon. Today Welder has ownership in six pharmacies with varied practices: a typical small town pharmacy, long-term and assisted living care pharmacies, a leased pharmacy in a supercenter store and a sterile compounding pharmacy.

Welder has been involved in many pharmacy associations on local, state and national levels. He served as an executive board member for 25 years and treasurer of the PACE Alliance pharmacy buying group. He has been on the advisory boards for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, pharmacy benefit manager, adviser for a special compounding committee for the FDA and a compounding supply company. Welder was treasurer of the National Home Infusion Association and served on the ND Pharmacy Service Corporation board for 25 years, 14 years as president. He is on committees for the University of Mary and Bismarck State College. He is past president of the North Dakota Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Welder is scheduled to present in the classroom at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, in Sudro room 27. For more information, contact Sara Wald at or 1-6461.

College of Science and Mathematics
Merl R. Lindstrom is interim senior vice president for technology and vice president for research and development for ConocoPhillips.

Lindstrom began his career as a research chemist in research and development with Phillips in 1978. In 1984, he was promoted to section supervisor in research and development in the polymers and materials area. In 1987, he was promoted to director of industry analysis in planning and budgeting for Phillips 66 Company, a division of Phillips, and became director of alloys, blends and compounds in plastics in 1988. Lindstrom returned to research and development in 1988 as manager of the engineering materials branch. In 1990, he served as director of plastics/chemicals in planning and budgeting for Phillips 66 Company for one year before accepting the position of manager of the chemicals division for research and development in 1991. From 1995 to 1998, he was manager of the petrochemicals division for the research and development staff. From 1998 to 2001 he was general manager of the Woods Cross Refinery, before returning to research and development as manager technical services and facilities until 2002. Lindstrom was general manager of research and development downstream technology from 2002 to 2006, and general manager of research and development and shared services from 2006 to 2007. He became vice president of research and development in 2007 and was appointed interim senior vice president of technology in 2010.

Lindstrom graduated from NDSU earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1973 and a doctorate in 1978 in chemistry.

Lindstrom’s presentation will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, in Dunbar room 152. For more information, contact Keri Drinka at or 1-6131.

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North Dakota State University
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