A lot of people come in and out of the hallways of the North Dakota State campus. Some people who have attended NDSU go on to become professional football players. Others have become lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, businessmen and a number of other things. Some make a big impact in the NDSU community, and others, not so much.
Some move on to bigger and better things. Some fade into obscurity.
When it comes to remembering who went here in prior years, a few big names that to come to mind for many people are athletes who played in recent years. Names like Carson Wentz, Brock Jensen, Marcus Williams and Kyle Emanuel are the big four that spring to mind.
But does anybody remember the names of football players like Phil Hansen, Tyrone Braxton, Lamar Gordon or Joe Mays? Hanson was an accomplished defensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills and played in the Super Bowl for them.
I’d like to list a few names of those who may surprise you by having been NDSU students. One example is Chris Tuchsherer. Tuchsherer is an accomplished mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who had a few fights in the UFC. While three of his four UFC fights did not go well for him, he did have a professional record of 20 wins and one loss before stepping inside the UFC octagon.
Born in Rugby, North Dakota, Tuchsherer was a successful wrestler at his high school before going on to wrestle for NDSU. However, he did transfer to the heretic school known as Minnesota State University Moorhead. Since his last UFC fight in February 2011, Tuchsherer has started his own MMA promotion, Crowbar MMA. Crowbar MMA has held five events in Fargo as well as Grand Forks.
Alumni in business and politics
Another NDSU alumnus is politician Rick Berg. Berg’s grandfather immigrated to the United States from Norway, and his father was a veterinarian and his mother a writer. Berg started his college career on a wrestling scholarship to the North Dakota State College of Science before transferring to NDSU after one year.
Upon graduation, Berg has over the years become a very successful businessman in the field of real estate. In 1982, he co-founded what is now known as GOLDMARK Property Management. After some time, he also co-founded what is now known as GOLDMARK Commercial Real Estate. At one point in the last few years, he helped a friend of mine get into investing in real estate.
Doug Burgum, the current governor of North Dakota, is also an NDSU alumnus. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1978 from NDSU before getting an MBA at Stanford. Burgum became the president of Great Plains Software in 1984. After the advent of the internet, Burgum grew the company beyond North Dakota’s borders.
Bob Backlund is an alumnus whose name is not easily recognizable. Backlund received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from NDSU. He was an accomplished amateur wrestler who won the NCAA Division II championship in the 190-pound weight class in 1971. The next year, Backlund moved up to the heavyweight division and placed fifth at the NCAA Division II finals.
A few years after graduating from NDSU, Backlund joined the WWE in 1977. Back then, it was known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). In 1978, he defeated “Superstar” Billy Graham for the WWWF championship and held on to the title for five years before losing it to The Iron Sheik in 1983.
Another surprising alumnus of NDSU is Alf Clausen. Not too many people recognize the name, but just about everybody knows about “The Simpsons.” Clausen was the show’s original music composer and has scored many of its episodes for over 27 years. He attended NDSU back in the ’60s. He initially studied mechanical engineering, but later switched his major to musical theory. Also, Clausen has taken a correspondence course in jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
Last but not least
Perhaps one of the biggest names that has come out of NDSU is Mancur Olson. His nephew, Frayne Olson, is a professor in NDSU’s department of agribusiness and applied economics. Last fall, NDSU’s Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise started a reading group dubbed the Mancur Olson Scholars. Mancur Olson received his bachelor’s degree from NDSU back in the ’50s. He proceeded to complete his master’s degree from the University of Oxford before completing his doctorate in economics from Harvard University in 1963.
Olson was an expert in the field of collective action. After receiving his doctorate from Harvard, he began his academic career as an assistant professor of economics at Princeton University. After a little while, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington, D.C. In 1969, after two years in D.C., he left that position to join the economics faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park. He remained in that position until he died in 1998 at the age of 66. A professor of mine said that if he was still alive, he would have had a very good shot of receiving a Nobel Prize in his work in economics.