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John D. Odegard

About John D. Odegard

John D. Odegard was the founder and dean of UND Aerospace at the University of North Dakota. A department which began with only two donated aircraft and two faculty, the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences has grown into one of the nation’s most widely respected aerospace education programs under his leadership. During his career as an aerospace educator, Odegard’s reputation for leadership earned him industry respect and many honors.

In 1970, he was elected president of the University Aviation Association (UAA), a national organization dedicated to the recognition and standardization of aviation curriculum, and in 1982, chaired its ground-breaking Airway Science Curriculum Task Force. He was a prominent figure on many state civic and gubernatorial committees related to air transportation, education and economic development, such as the North Dakota Aeronautics Committee, which he served on for twelve years, including four as chairman.

Among his many awards was the prestigious Frank G. Brewer Trophy presented in November 1988 by the National Aeronautics Association for “his distinguished and inspiring leadership in creating new educational opportunities.” A year earlier, the editors of Aviation Week and Space Technology recognized his contributions to aerospace in their 1987 Laurels nominations for “building the Center for Aerospace Sciences into a major force in aviation and space education. “

In 1989, Odegard received the FAA Administrator’s Regional “Championship” award for Excellence in Aviation Education, and was honored as the North Dakota “Business Innovator of the Year.” In 1994 Odegard was presented the National Air Transportation Association’s (NATA) Excellence in Pilot Training Award.

Odegard propelled UND Aerospace to international prominence by pioneering many precedent-setting programs including the Aerospace curriculum, the Aerospace Network distance education system, and the SPECTRUM® ab initio pilot training program.

A Minot, North Dakota native, Odegard earned a B.B.A. in 1966 and M.A. in Accounting in 1967 from the University of North Dakota. While an undergraduate student working summers as a crop sprayer, he revitalized the school’s flying club. His Master’s thesis, “Feasibility and Cost Analysis of Institutional Private Aircraft Transportation,” earned him approval to establish an air transportation service for UND officials.

Odegard logged more than 10,000 flight hours and held an airline transport certificate for Learjet, Cessna Citation, Beechjet and single- and multi-engine aircraft. He was a certified flight instructor for airplanes, instrument, multi-engine and gliders. He was also a FAA pilot examiner for private, commercial, instrument, multi-engine, flight instructor, ATP, glider, seaplane certificates and ratings and for Cessna Citation type ratings.

John D. Odegard, after a courageous battle with cancer, passed away in 1998. He is missed by his family, friends, his UND Aerospace family, and the aviation community. His legacy and spirit continue to live on at UND Aerospace, the house that John built.

Historical Briefing:

  • Founded as Department of Aviation within UND’s College of Business (1968)
  • Program started with 12 students and 2 donated aircraft
  • Established nation’s first hands-on ATC tower training with FAA tower chief supervision for college-level students (1971)
  • Among the first schools to implement the FAA airway science degree (1982)
  • Dean John Odegard chaired curriculum committee which developed FAA’s airway science degree
  • Renamed Center for Aerospace Sciences
  • Granted full status as a college (1983)
  • Nation’s first aviation degree program combined with an accredited under-graduate business degree
  • Renamed John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences (1998)
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