John D. Odegard
Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame
John D. Odegard, founder and former dean of UND Aerospace at the University of North Dakota, piloted that institution’s aviation education and training program from its modest beginnings, operating with two donated aircraft and two faculty members, to its current status as one of the largest and most respected aerospace education programs in the nation. Today UND Aerospace – which encompasses the renamed John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences and the UND Aerospace Foundation – serves more than 1900 students from around the world, logging 115,000 hours per year in over 138 aircraft.
Inspired by summers working as a crop sprayer during his own UND education (B.B.A. Accounting ’66 and M.S. Accounting ’67) Odegard revitalized the school’s flying club, and his master’s thesis led to the establishment of an air service for UND officials. After joining the UND faculty in accounting, his proposal to merge a business degree with flight study gave birth to UND’s aviation program, then a division of the College of Business.
Under Odegard’s leadership both aircraft and enrollment grew in number – and in 1982, the Center for Aerospace Sciences took flight. It achieved full status as a college in 1985.
Odegard is widely published on subjects of aviation and flight training, was a nationally sought after consultant and guest speaker, and received many industry awards and honors…but at his core, he was a pilot. A member of the ND Aeronautics Commission for 25 years, he logged over 14,000 flight hours, was an FAA pilot examiner, and a certified flight instructor.
John D. Odegard, 100% Norwegian-American, was born in Minot, ND and died in 1998 after a courageous battle with cancer. His legacy and spirit live on at UND Aerospace, ‘the house that John built.’