© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sister Thomas Welder


For “her remarkable contribution to the academic, business and spiritual life of North Dakota,” Sister Thomas Welder was presented the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider award on this day, May 1, 2004 by Governor John Hoeven.

First established in 1961 during the Dakota Territory Centennial, the Rough Rider Award is given in recognition of “present or former North Dakotans who have been influenced by this state in achieving national recognition in their fields of endeavor, thereby reflecting credit and honor upon North Dakota and its citizens.”

Sister Thomas Welder, a women whose “personal achievements, character and leadership have been an inspiration to countless individuals, students, entrepreneurs and business and state leaders,” was the thirty-third North Dakotan to receive the award. A native of Bismarck, she completed her education at Northwestern University in Illinois with a master’s degree in music. She began working at Mary College in 1963, and became the school’s president fifteen years later. As president of Mary, Sister Thomas Welder proved to be instrumental in the school’s growth. Under her leadership the school attained university status in 1986, has added numerous undergraduate and graduate programs, and expanded class offerings in outlying areas. Today, the university offers degree programs in Fargo, Minot, Grand Forks, New Town, and Belcourt as well as in Montana and Wyoming. Additionally, the student population has greatly expanded under Sister Welder’s watch, growing from 925 students in 1978 to 2,800 in 2006. Besides increasing the school’s student population and status as one of the state’s premier educational institutions, Sister Welder has worked to ensure that the school focuses on developing students who are not only experts in their field, but community leaders, eager to give back to their state.

Sister Thomas Welder’s work stretches beyond her efforts at the University of Mary. She has served on the boards of Montana-Dakota Utilities, the Bismarck-Mandan Area Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Harold Schafer Medora Founder’s Society, as well as many others.

Sister Thomas Welder’s hard work improving both her community, and the educational opportunities afforded to the state’s students has served as an inspiration for many North Dakotans. She has honored the state with her work, and it is only fitting that North Dakota should return the favor.

Written by Lane Sunwall


Website of the Governor of North Dakota





Prairie Business Magazine