Updated: Sep 19
DICKINSON, N.D. – The DSU Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce the 2023 Alumni Fellows and honorees recognized for going above and beyond in their respective fields. Recipients will be honored October 6 during Homecoming activities at the university.
“The Dickinson State University Heritage Foundation is honored to recognize the contributions of these great alumni and friends to their community and the university,” DSU Heritage Foundation Executive Director Ty Orton said. “Without them, and others like them, Dickinson State University would not be able to complete its mission of preparing students to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.”
Fourteen individuals will be recognized at a banquet held in their honor Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Grand Dakota Lodge ballroom. Tickets are $30. Contact Kierra Schneider at 701-483-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The 2023 Alumni Fellows:
Department of Agriculture & Technical Studies -
Terrald Bang '69
Terrald Bang graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in education and tried his hand at teaching before the allure of the ranch in the mountains near the western North Dakota badlands began too much to ignore and he returned to his roots. Terrald and his wife, Carol ’70, continue to ranch on the family operation northwest of Killdeer. He also is or has been involved with the Dunn County Fair Board, Dunn County Saddle Club, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Killdeer Mountain Elk Unit Landowners Association. Terrald played football and was in track and field.
Department of Natural Science -
Travis Booke ’08
After graduating from Dickinson Trinity High School in 2003, Travis Booke completed his undergraduate work at Dickinson State before earning a Master of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of North Dakota. He served on the Homecoming Committee member 2005-2008, homecoming parade chair 2007, Homecoming Committee chair 2008, Science Olympiad facilitator 2005-2008 , Science Club member 2005-2008, student ambassador 2004-2007 and SOAR leader 2006-2008. Travis is a PA-C at CHI St. Alexius Health in Dickinson. He was a North Dakota PA of the Year nominee in 2021 and a 2023 Commonspirit Health Provider Leadership Academy graduate. He is the North Dakota Academy of Physician Assistants Board president.
Department of Education - Mary Pat Bruels ’78
Mary Pat Bruels graduated from Dickinson State in 1978 and was selected to receive the Charles M. Scott Student Teacher of the Year Award. In 2020, she was named the Dickinson Public Schools Teacher of the Year. She began teaching in Gladstone in 1978 before moving to Lincoln Elementary in Dickinson for several years. She also taught at Jefferson and Roosevelt before returning to Lincoln and retiring in 2020. Now that she has retired, Mary Pat has more time to walk, golf, read, play word games and do jigsaw puzzles. She and her husband, Ray, enjoy visiting their children and grandchildren and winter in Florida.
Department of Kinesiology - Randy Gordon ’77
Randy Gordon was a four-year football letterman and played on a North Dakota College Athletic Conference champion in 1975, a team that was inducted into the university’s athletic Hall of Fame. After four years on the gridiron and in the classroom, Randy accomplished all of his goals as he became a teacher and football coach at nearby Killdeer High School. Randy spent the next 45 years building an athletic resume that included more than four decades teaching physical education and weight training; winning three state football championships and finishing runner-up twice; winning 12 region championships; and earning four North Dakota High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year honors. He spent six years on the NDHSCA Football Advisory Committee. He also was appointed and served six years on the Educational Standards and Practice Board and was a CTE certified instructor.
Department of Social Science - Kylan Klauzer ’06
A 2006 Dickinson State graduate with a political science major and sociology minor, Kylan Klauzer has put his life on the line daily for the last 18 years as a law enforcement officer in North Dakota. In addition to his All-American football awards, Klauzer was the DAC-10 Football Senior MVP and an NAIA Champions of Character Award winner. He graduated first in his class at the FBI National Academy Class 270, is a 14-year SWAT team member and a polygraph examiner and lieutenant for the Criminal Support Division. Kylan also is an adjunct professor for the Dickinson State University Criminal Justice program and 12-year women’s self-defense instructor. He is a keynote speaker for Eastern Montana Positive Choices Program.
Department of Nursing - Brittany Kudrna ’10
Brittany Kudrna is a 2010 Dickinson State University nursing graduate who excelled during her time as a student at Dickinson State. She was a student ambassador, graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Practical Nursing Summa Cum Laude 2008 and was runner-up for Student Nurse of the Year in 2008. She was on Homecoming Court and Student Nurse of the Year in 2009 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Nursing Summa Cum Laude in 2010. Kudrna obtained her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Kudrna is a family nurse practitioner at CHI Family Medicine, the DPN/FNP Program Coordinator at University of Mary, a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, is Board certified, a Marquette University Certified Professional and studied Fertility Education Medical Management. She received a March of Dimes Nurse of the Year nomination 2011.
Department of Math & Computer Science -
Brian Kopp ’09
Brian Kopp graduated from Summa Cum Laude from Dickinson State University in 2009. He was nominated for Outstanding Graduating Senior. He has since earned many awards, including 2022 Friend of Transit Award from the Dakota Transit Association and 2022 Friends of Community Action Award, and was nominated for a 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce. His interests and hobbies include technology, efficiency and racing of electric vehicles. He demonstrates EVs at car shows and lectures at Dickinson High School and Dickinson State University. He enjoys full self-driving beta road trips in his Tesla Model S.
Department of Arts & Letters - Lori Riehl '91
Lori Riehl laid the foundation for a lifetime in the arts at Dickinson State University. She grew up in Dickinson, stayed close to home to cut down on the cost of college and took the exact course of study she was looking for. She graduated in 1991 but not before making her presence known. Lori received her Master of Arts In Education degree from the College of St. Katherine in 2004. She was 2006 Horizon Middle School Teacher of the Year. In 2000, she was given the North Dakota Speech and Theatre Association Service to the Profession Award. Current, Lori is a Board member of the North Dakota Art Educator Association, an artist member of Bismarck Downtown Artist Cooperative, a member of Bismarck Arts and Galleries Association 2012 and a member of the Artist Solo Show of Bismarck. In her free time, Lori spends time with her children, creating art (usually painting), gardening, taking care of her three cats and photographing professionally.
Department of Business & Entrepreneurship - Cill Skabo ’93
Cill Skabo has been working her way up the corporate ladder since she earned her first degree at the university in 1993. Cill followed a path followed by her brothers and sisters and the family-like atmosphere found at Dickinson State. She started a career as a bank teller and over the next 28 years worked her way up the ladder, serving as a chief technical officer, chief information officer and chief marketing officer. In 2021, Cill earned a masters of entrepreneurship, and now is chief growth officer.
The 2023 Alumni Award Recipients:
Dr. Tom '80 and Marie '79 Arnold - Golden Hawk Award
The recipient of the Golden Hawk Award has shown a long-term commitment to Dickinson State University. The recipients are well-established in their fields and show true pride in their alma mater. Recipients of the Gold Hawk Award must be at least 50 years old.
Dr. Tom Arnold graduated with chemistry, biology and coaching degrees from Dickinson State University in 1980. The Richardton, N.D., native also played football for the Hawks from 1976 to 1978.
Tom earned his medical degree from the University of North Dakota in 1984 and completed a OB/GYN internship and residency in 1988. He was a clinical OB/GYN at MedCenter One in Dickinson until 2011, Chief Medical Officer CHI Health St. Joseph’s until 2014 and is currently clinical OB/GYN practitioner at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson. He is a highly decorated physician whose honors include the American Board of OB/GYN certified, a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a clinical assistant and associate professor of OB/GYN at UND School of Medicine at DSU School of Nursing, vice chair at UND School of Medicine and medical director at Connect Medical Clinic.
He has been awarded a UND School of Medicine Alumni Service Award, Special Award, Den Harwood Memorial Scholarship, Medical Class president, chair of Pre-Med Day, Medical School Student Senate, Samuel Perlson Medical School Education Award and the DSU Young Hawk Award. He has served on the DSU Heritage Foundation Board since its inception.
Marie (Quamme) Arnold graduated from Dickinson State University in 1979. Like her husband, Tom, she chose to attend DSU for several reasons, including its location, siblings who previously attended the university and the programs offered. Marie was Homecoming princess, Vets Sweetheart, Woods Hall president, student senator and a TKS daughter. She has also served as Alumni Board president and a Yuletyme Committee member. She enjoys gardening and hobby farming and spending time with her husband and 13 grandchildren.
Troy Kuntz ' 11 - Young Hawk Award
Recipients of the Young Hawk Award must embody community spirit, passion and a true love for their alma mater. The Young Hawk Award recipient must be 49 years old or younger.
A 2011 DSU graduate and Dickinson native, Troy Kuntz is the Elementary Library Media Specialist for Dickinson Public Schools. As such, he has partnered with city, state and national organizations and nonprofits to bring STEM education and opportunities to K-5 students in Dickinson. Before starting his professional career, Troy was a member of University Players, Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF), and Student Educators Association. He was on the Homecoming court 2009 and 2010, the Dean’s List spring 2007 and 2009 and the President’s List fall 2007 and 2010. Has served on the DSU Heritage Foundation’s Alumni Committee since 2018 and its president since March 2022. Troy has been on the Dickinson Area Public Library Board since 2021 and its president since July 2023. He also has been a board member on the Southwest Art Gallery and Science Center Board since 2022.
Deb and Ken Nelson - Blue Feather Award
The Blue Feather is the highest level of recognition presented to friends of Dickinson State University. Recipients are not an alumnus, but the recipients demonstrate a passion, love and commitment to Dickinson State University. Recipients must be recognized for providing life-changing experiences to colleagues, friends and the community.
Even though Kenneth and Debra Nelson didn’t graduate from Dickinson State University, the have been steady contributors to school and the community for four decades.
Ken, a native of Grand Forks, N.D., met Deb, who hails from Williston, in Minot. They settled in Dickinson where Ken once was an adjunct professor and Deb has facilitated many meetings and planning sessions on campus over the years. They raised their sons here and watched their oldest son on the theater stage at Stickney Auditorium and their youngest play high school football on Fisher Field. Ken got his Insurance, Securities and Registered Investment Advisor designations in Dickinson. He earned numerous awards, including ESA Designation from AXA/Equitable, All-American Team Designation from American Funds, national Chair of Champions Award from AXA Advisors, Dickinson Rotarian of the Year, the Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship, BSA Roughrider District Spouse of the Year and threw out the very first pitch for the Dickinson Diamonds softball team.
Deb, meanwhile, has been busy collecting awards of her own. She was elected North Dakota Women’s Business Center president and elected to the North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations for three three-year terms. Her awards include North Dakota Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Governor’s Highway Safety Award, Prevention Coordinator of the Year by the North Dakota Department of Human Services, the Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship and the Kiwanis George F. Hixson Fellowship. Deb also was named Boy Scouts of America Northern Lights Council Commissioner and awarded the BSA Council and Central Region James E. West Awards.