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NDUS Home  |  State Board of Higher Education  |  SBHE Members

SBHE Members

Don Morton

Don Morton
Don Morton was reappointed to the State Board of Higher Education for a second four-year term starting July 1, 2016.

Don Morton retired in late 2016 from Microsoft, where he had served as a senior director and a part of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), a group that develops the Microsoft Dynamics Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions.

Don has three major areas of responsibility: (1) Leading the global Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance team. (2) Leading a team responsible for the Executive Briefing Center (EBC) on the Microsoft campus in Fargo, ND, and working closely with the Microsoft sales teams with a focus on the Dynamics ERP and Dynamics CRM. (3)Site leader for the Microsoft campus in Fargo which has more than 1,700 employees.Prior to joining Microsoft, Don was the assistant to the president and director of university relations at North Dakota State University. He has a coaching background, serving as the head football coach at the University of Wisconsin, at the University of Tulsa and at North Dakota State University where he won four conference championships and one national championship. He also was named national coach of the year in 1983.

Don is a native of Flint, Michigan. He earned a B.A. in Psychology at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. and a master's in education from Western Illinois University.

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Greg Stemen
Vice Chair

Greg Stemen
Greg Stemen began his term of service with the State Board of Higher Education July 1, 2015.

Stemen currently serves as the branch manager of First Community Credit Union in Oakes. Prior to that position he served as the president and branch manager of the First State Bank of North Dakota in LaMoure, N.D.

Stemen previously served as a lending officer at Great Plains National Bank and as a physician recruiter at MedCenter One. Before that, he was the winningest coach in the history of the Southwest Minnesota State University's men's basketball program. Stemen also does color analysis for college basketball games on Midco Sports Network.

A resident of Oakes, N.D., Stemen holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics education from Valley City State University and a Master's of Education in educational leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University. Currently, Stemen serves on the board of the North Dakota State Veteran's Home. He has held membership on the North Dakota Bankers Association Ag-Lending Committee, the Dakota School of Banking Advisory Board, and served as a board member for LaMoure Community Development and for St. Rose Care Center in LaMoure. He has also been president of the Fort Ransom Community Club, president of Litchville-Marion Dollars for Scholars, treasurer for Grace United Methodist Church, and was also a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA II Congress.

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Kevin Melicher

Kevin Melicher, OD, Fargo, N.D., is an optometrist at Eyecare Associates, P.C. who specializes in contact lenses, sports vision and refractive surgery consultations. Melicher attended North Dakota State University while completing his pre-optometry coursework and holds a doctor of optometry degree from the Illinois College of Optometry.

Melicher is no stranger to higher education. He's been the Team Optometrist for NDSU Athletics since 1982, and served as an adjunct assistant professor of optometry at both Illinois College of Optometry and Pacific University College of Optometry. He also served on the Fargo School Board for eight years, including terms as board president, treasurer and negotiations leader, and as a member of the North Dakota Board of Optometry from 2011-2014. Melicher was named the 2013 North Dakota Optometrist of the Year and earned the Dakota Medical Foundation Star Award in 2014.

Appointed to the board by Gov. Dalrymple on May 20, 2014, Melicher's term will run from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018.

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Mike Ness

Mike Ness, Hazen, N.D. is the Superintendent of the Hazen School District where he has been employed for twelve years. Ness received his Bachelor of Science degree in education from North Dakota State University. In 1980, he earned his Masters of Science in Education Administration degree from North Dakota State University. Ness has been involved in K-12 education as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in the Verona, Stanton, Center, Bottineau, and Hazen school systems during the last 42 years. He brings a K-12 educator connection to the board along with his vast knowledge and professional experience. He retired as Superintendent of the Hazen School on June 30, 2015.

Appointed to the board February 26, 2015 filling a vacancy, Ness's term will expire June 30, 2018.

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Nick Hacker

Nick Hacker
Nicholas P. Hacker began his term of service with the State Board of Higher Education July 1, 2015.

Hacker has served as the president of the North Dakota Guaranty and Title Company in Bismarck, N.D., for three years. There he leads the state's largest title insurance and real estate closing company with 100 employees across 10 locations.

Prior to his current role Hacker worked as the state government affairs manager for the American Land Title Association and the business development manager for Marcil Group, Inc. In 2004 he made history by being the youngest person elected to a state senate where he served North Dakota's District 42 for four years.

A native of Bismarck, N.D., Hacker holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in managerial finance from the University of North Dakota. He holds a certificate in legislative leadership from Bowhay Institute. He has held membership in the Rotary Club of Williston (past secretary), American Land Title Association, N.D. Land Trust Association, Greater N.D. Chamber of Commerce, N.D. Association of Builders, N.D. Association of Realtors, N.D. Bankers Association, and Independent Community Banks of North Dakota.

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Kathleen Neset

Kathleen Neset
Kathleen Neset is President of Neset Consulting Service, Inc., which provides well site geologic/geosteering services to the oil industry since 1980. She received a B.A. in Geology from Brown University and then went to work as a seismologist in Michigan. Neset worked for Core Laboratories in Texas and Wyoming. In 1979 she moved to North Dakota pursuing work as an independent petroleum geologist. She is owner of Neset Farms and formerly worked as a Tioga High School science teacher, a Tioga school board member and a substitute business manager at Tioga High School. Currently she manages wellsite geology and mudlogging crews throughout the Bakken and Northern Rockies Region.

Kathleen is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologist, Williston API, Dickinson API, North Dakota Petroleum Council Board of Directors, Bush Foundation, BSC Petroleum Technology Advisory Committee, UND Petroleum Engineering Advisory Committee, Tioga Golf & Country Club board, and St. Thomas Parish Council Secretary.

Appointed to the board June 20, 2012 filling a vacancy and confirmed by the State Senate, Neset's term will expire June 30, 2017.

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Casey Ryan

Casey Ryan
Dr. Casey Ryan is the most recent appointee to the State Board of Higher Education.

Ryan practices endocrinology and internal medicine at Altru Health System in Grand Forks. He was president of Altru Health System from its inception in 1997 through 2014.

Ryan graduated from Grand Forks Central High School, then attended Colorado College where he played varsity hockey. After graduating from the University of Colorado Medical School he spent three years as an internal medicine resident at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. After finishing at Mayo he spent nine months as an endocrinology registrar at the University of Otago Medical School in Dunedin, New Zealand.

He and his wife, Bev, have lived in Grand Forks since 1979.

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Jacob Dailey
Student Member

Jacob Dailey is the current Student Member of the State Board of Higher Education. He is a senior at North Dakota State University, pursuing a degree in Agricultural Education.

Dailey is a native of Kansas where he grew up on his family's farm. As a student at NDSU, he served as a student senator and executive commissioner within student government, led the North Dakota Student Association as its president, and has spent three years on the student leadership team for Agriculture Future of America - a national organization that builds bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture.

During the academic year, he works as an operational assistant for the NDSU Research and Technology Park, supporting the parks efforts in serving as a catalyst for innovation in science and technology leading to discoveries that contribute to North Dakota's economic development.

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Andy Wakeford
Staff Adviser

Andy Wakeford
Andy Wakeford, Devils Lake, N.D., is the Online Coordinator and Advisor for Lake Region State College. He is immediate past president of LRSC's Staff Senate and has been employed at LRSC since 2002.

Wakeford received an Associate in Arts Degree from UND-Lake Region in 1996 and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of North Dakota in 1999.

He was elected by the State Staff Senate on January 25th, and will serve a one year term that beginning July 1, 2016. He serves as the Staff Advisor to the State Board of Higher Education.

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Birgit Pruess
Faculty Adviser

Birgit Pruess is the faculty adviser to the State Board of Higher Education. She is a native of Germany who came to the US with a Ph.D. in Biology in 1992. She has been a Microbiologist at NDSU since 2004, teaching Bacterial Physiology to undergraduate and graduate students.

Her research interest is in bacterial biofilm, in particular their prevention. Biofilm are communities of bacteria that form on surfaces and cause many problems in clinical and food processing settings. Dr. Pruess integrates students in her research at all educational levels. She has been Faculty Senate President at NDSU during the 2014/2015 academic year, President of the North Dakota Academy of Sciences in 2009, President of the North Central Branch of the American Society for Microbiology in 2012, and is currently serving as President for the NDSU Chapter of the Agricultural Honor Society Gamma Sigma Delta.

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