Minot State mourns the loss of Gordon B. Olson
Gordon B. Olson, president emeritus, died this morning (June 30). Olson was the longest-serving president of Minot State University, having been in office for 25 years from 1967 to 1992. During his tenure as its sixth president, Olson led the university through a period of significant growth and change.
"In Dr. Olsonís long and successful tenure as our sixth president, Minot State realized a significant enrollment growth of more than 70 percent, the addition of new undergraduate and graduate programs, including nursing, social work, and criminal justice, the construction of the Dome, Hartnett Hall, the Amphitheater, and the Gordon B. Olson Library, and the advent of the Board of Regents and the MSU Development Foundation," said David Fuller, president of Minot State University. "He was responsible for leading the effort to gain approval for our university status and our new name, Minot State University, in 1987."
"Although he is no longer with us, we know that everywhere one goes on our campus-in the buildings and in our curriculum and programs-Gordon Olsonís leadership is apparent. He was a great conversationalist, an excellent educator and an ardent supporter of higher education and Minot State University," continued Fuller. "Speaking for all of us in the Minot State community, I wish to extend to Carley and Gordonís family our most sincere condolences and to say that our university will miss Gordon Olson."
When Olson came to MSU, enrollment stood slightly more than 2,000, but by the 1991-92 academic year, enrollment topped 3,700. He was also the driving force behind the effort to obtain university status, a goal achieved in 1987.
Olson spearheaded efforts to obtain new construction on campus, and during his tenure, the outward appearance of the campus changed dramatically. As well as the Gordon B. Olson Library, which was fittingly named for him, buildings added under his leadership include the Dome, Hartnett Hall and Lura Manor.
President Olson came to then Minot State College from Dickinson State College, where he had served that institution since 1953 - first as chairman, then as dean and finally as vice president.
He earned a bachelorís degree from Dickinson State College and a masterís and a doctoral degree from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. After completing his doctorate at UND, Olson went to Black Hills State College, Spearfish, S.D., for one year before returning home to North Dakota and to Dickinson State.
Olson graduated from Almont High School, Almont, N.D., and attended Jamestown College, Jamestown, N.D., for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations, including the Luzon Campaign in the Philippines.
He participated in the Army Specialist Training Program, attending the University of Alabama, Manhattan College of New York, and Syracuse University, New York. By participating, Olson had completed nearly three years of college work by the time he was discharged in March 1946.
Olson also taught at schools in Almont and Belfield, N.D., and was the superintendent for three years at Bucyrus, N.D.
He received alumni honors from UND and DSU, as well as the MSU Alumni Association Golden Award, the highest honor bestowed by the association. Olson was also a recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award from Lions International, the most prestigious award granted by the national organization.
Olson is survived by his wife, Carley, and two of their three children.
The memorial service will be July 6 at First Lutheran Church at 10:30 a.m. The burial will follow at Rosehill Cemetery. Visitation will be July 5 at the Thomas Family Funeral Home, noon-5 p.m.
Memorials are preferred to the Gordon B. Olson Scholarship Fund at MSU, the Bethel Free Lutheran Church, the Minot Lions Club or the Gordon B. Olson Library.
For questions, contact Mark Lyman, director of public information, at 858-3298 or firstname.lastname@example.org.