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NDSU colleges announce distinguished alumni

Posted on 10/18/2012

The colleges of North Dakota State University have announced their distinguished alumni for fall 2012. The alumni will return to NDSU throughout the fall to meet with students, faculty and administrators. Their visits serve as a way to show students what they can achieve with a degree from NDSU.

College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources
Philip E. Austin served as the 13th president of the University of Connecticut from October 1996 to August 2007. Prior to his appointment at UConn, Austin served for seven years as chancellor of The University of Alabama System.

Austin earned bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural economics from NDSU in 1964 and 1966 and an honorary doctorate in 1996. He also earned a master's degree and doctorate in economics from Michigan State University.

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Bipasha Ray is a program officer at Open Society Foundations, an international philanthropic foundation working to promote human rights and social justice. She previously worked as a research associate and Web editor at the Project on Defense Alternatives in Cambridge, Mass., where she created Web resources and provided analysis on the wars inIraq and Afghanistan, peace and security, and U.S. military and defense policy.

She graduated from NDSU in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication. Ray earned a master's degree in international politics from Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

College of Human Development and Education
Bonnie Lonbaken is the corporate dietitian for Lyons Magnus Inc. She serves as account manager for numerous healthcare multi-unit and group purchasing organizations.

Lonbaken earned a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition from NDSU and is a registered dietitian.

College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences
Lori Wightman is the president of Unity Hospital in Fridley, Minn. She previously was the president at New Ulm Medical Center in New Ulm, Minn., for more than eight years.

Wightman is a registered nurse with a master's degree in healthcare administration from the University of Colorado. She earned an associate's degree in nursing from NDSU in 1980.

College of Science and Mathematics
David Fischer has been actively involved in the petroleum industry as a Williston Basin geologist and explorationist since June 1980. Recently, his focus has been on exploration and research into the occurrence of shallow Cretaceous biogenic natural gas in central North Dakota, and the possibility that gas has accumulated in economic quantities.

Fischer earned a bachelor's degree in soil science from NDSU and a master's degree in geology from the University of North Dakota.

For more information on the distinguished alumni, visit

Bismarck State CollegeDakota College at BottineauDickinson State UniversityLake Region State CollegeMayville State UniversityMinot State UniversityNorth Dakota State College of ScienceNorth Dakota State UniversityUniversity of North DakotaValley City State UniversityWilliston State College
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