University of Mary’s 60th Commencement Ceremonies are April 24

K. William Boyer
Devils Lake Journal

BISMARCK— On Saturday, April 24 the University of Mary will award degrees to 2056 graduates at its 2021 commencement. This year, because the University of Mary is combining the 2020 and 2021 commencements into one day, there are two ceremonies in the Bismarck Event Center on 7th Street and Front Avenue, Bismarck. The first ceremony for undergraduates begins at 11:30 a.m., while the second ceremony for graduate students begins at 3 p.m.

At that time, the class of 2020 (marked with asterisks on the spreadsheet) will receive a special-edition honor cord to wear with their cap and gown. This is also the first graduating class for the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy and the Master of Arts in Catholic Studies.

Founded and sponsored by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery of Bismarck, the University of Mary will award 1101 bachelor’s degrees, 772 master’s degrees and 221 doctoral degrees. These students come from 46 states representing 27 countries.

119 received the summa cum laude designation, 169 earned magna cum laude designation and 284 students received the cum laude designation. Additionally, 77 students have earned the Certified Schafer Leader designation from the Harold Schafer Emerging Leaders Academy.

Graduating from Ramsey County are:

Joshua Haugen              Bachelor of Science    Cum Laude      Crary

Grant   Belgarde           Bach of Sci in Res Ther Magna Cum Laude  Devils Lake

JeremyHoffart              Bachelor of Science    Cum Laude      Devils Lake

Logan  Kraft                   Bachelor of Univ Studies  Devils Lake

James  Lang                    Master of Science        Devils Lake

Brandonn Nelson        Master of Business Admin    Devils Lake

Amber               Stokke                              Master of Science in Nsg Devils Lake

The 2021 University of Mary graduation ceremonies can be viewed through live streaming at:

Honorary Doctorate Degree

Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

Vern Dosch has been married to his wife, Lynne for 37 years. Together they have two sons, a daughter, and six grandchildren. Dosch has received degrees from the University of Mary in business administration as well as a master’s of management.

Dosch served in the rural electric and telecommunication industry for 45 years, most recently as the president and CEO of the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) from 2002 to 2020. NISC is an information technology company that develops and supports accounting, billing, and engineering software for more than 850 electric cooperatives, telephone companies, and municipalities in all 50 states, American Samoa, Palau, and Canada. 

Under Dosch’s leadership, NISC’s employee base grew from 30 employees to more than 1,400 between its six facilities in North Dakota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, and Texas, as well as virtual office sites around the country.

A noted speaker and published author of “Wired Differently: How to Spark Better Results with a Cooperative Business Model, Servant Leadership and Shared Values,” Dosch’s cooperative spirit didn’t end with NISC. Dosch has served on the Boards of CHI St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck State College Foundation, Starion Bank, Light of Christ Capital Campaign, God’s Child Project Foundation, Higher Education Roundtable, Capital Grounds Planning Commission, Yellowstone Strategies, Leadership North Dakota, and Missouri Slope Areawide United Way.

Dosch retired from NISC in January 2020 and was immediately tapped to lead North Dakota’s coronavirus contact tracing efforts. The launch of the Care 19 app and strategy of testing university students returning to campus were among Dosch’s accomplishments.

He was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in January of this year, a testament to his years of humble service and devotion to the cooperative model.

Graduate Commencement Speaker

Dr. Jodi Roller, PT, EdD, DPT, began her career as a professor at the University of Mary in 1995 after 23 years of clinical practice, most of which was in pediatrics. She joined Dr. Michael Parker’s efforts in establishing the Master of Physical Therapy program, first by working as the director of clinical education followed by assistant director and finally chair of the program, a position she held for 8 years. During her tenure as chair, the program transitioned into a Doctor of Physical Therapy. 

In 2010, Dr. Roller was named Dean of the School of Health Sciences, a position she held until her retirement. She advised numerous research projects; has given several poster presentations at national PT conferences, and has publications in the Journal of PT Education, Journal of Neurologic PT, and Journal of Aquatic Therapy. In 2015, she wrote a $500,000 grant which was funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and helped fund the purchase of Syndavers at the University of Mary. 

Dr. Roller’s first husband, Joe, passed away from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1994, 8 years from the date of diagnosis. She has shared their story to inspire hundreds of health science students. Dr. Roller married Bob Martinson, a state representative from Bismarck, in 2004.  Dr. Roller’s son Matthew is a neurologist, and his wife Kylee is a clinical psychologist. Her daughter, Rebecca, and son-in-law Chris are both dentists. Dr. Roller and her children were all awarded doctorate degrees in the same year. Dr. Roller and Representative Martinson have seven grandchildren ranging in age from 5 to 17. Dr. Roller retired as dean of the School of Health Sciences in 2020.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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