Over 25 years in public office, the U.S senator from Fargo was a great friend to the University
From UND Today
As the story goes, a University of North Dakota official was escorting a carload of political aides onto the western edge of campus near University Avenue and 42nd Street.
“This is ‘Andrews Alley,’” the driver proclaimed to his passengers. “Mark Andrews is responsible for this facility.” The facility, at the time, was known as the Center for Aerospace Sciences. Today it goes by Odegard Hall.
The man who wrote the legislation to bring the facility to UND was indeed U.S. Sen. Mark Andrews. The passengers in the car were Andrews’ campaign staffers on their way to meet up with their boss. And when they did, they found a senator still bursting with pride at what had been created.
“Isn’t this something?” the senator remarked as he greeted his crew.
It truly was, and still is.
And it all started with a friendship sparked years earlier — when Andrews was a representative in Congress — with UND Aerospace founder John D. Odegard and North Dakota legislator Bryce Streibel, and with $4 million quietly tucked into a 1983 FAA budget bill, when Andrews was a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and chaired its aviation subcommittee. Odegard Hall was the first of three new buildings of a rapidly evolving aerospace campus at UND in the mid-1980s. More would be added in the future.
The University was saddened to learn that Andrews died on Saturday, Oct. 3. He was 94.
Vision for the valley
Andrews was not a UND grad. He earned his degree at North Dakota State (North Dakota Agricultural College) in his hometown of Fargo. But he certainly was a friend to UND in his nearly 20 years spent as North Dakota’s lone representative in Congress and during his first and only term in the U.S. Senate. His efforts on Capitol Hill not only greatly benefitted UND Aerospace but also extended to other parts of the campus, such as the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) and the School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS).
Andrews once boasted how he got a powerful senator from Utah, Jake Garn — a decorated Navy fighter pilot and the first civilian launched into space – to come to UND to help dedicate one of the new Aerospace buildings.
“When he saw it, he said, ‘Mark, I had no idea you were getting all this money for aerospace here.’ I said, ‘I know you didn’t, Jake, and I didn’t want you to know.’ He said if I’d known I’d have tried to get it for Utah. I said I know it; and it’s too late,” recalled Andrews, in a 1986 memoir about his re-election campaign run for U.S. Senate.
Andrews worked with Odegard and Streibel to build a spectacular aerospace hub on the prairie. The new buildings were needed to meet the demands of Aerospace’s surging aviation program enrollment. But it was always meant to be more than a flight school; soon there were program additions in Air Traffic Control, Atmospheric Sciences, Space Studies and more.
Though Odegard worked with many congressional representatives over the years to build UND Aerospace into a well-rounded and internationally respected organization, he specifically mentioned the shared vision he had with Sen. Andrews.
“Mark Andrews is the captain of our team,” Odegard once said. “Mark and I have a dream of filling the Valley with aerospace facilities — a kind of Aerospace Valley to go with Silicon Valley.”
By any measure, it was a dream come true, and it’s a legacy that current UND Aerospace Dean Paul Lindseth has been proud to carry on.
“We’re truly thankful for the visionary work of Sen. Mark Andrews, Bryce Streibel and John Odegard,” Lindseth said. “Through their vision, the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences has established a world-wide reputation of aerospace excellence right here in Grand Forks, N.D.”
Even before his days in the U.S. Senate, Andrews had become such a strong advocate of UND and its programs that the Alumni Association & Foundation presented its prestigious Sioux Award to then-Rep. Andrews in 1976.
Later, the local Grand Forks airport, where UND students do their flying, became the Mark A. Andrews International Airport in honor of Andrews’ work on aviation issues on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Odegard endorsed the name change, saying Andrews had done “fantastic things for UND, the airport and aviation in general.”
In the early years of the SMHS’s successful Indians into Medicine (INMED) program, the University had to fight to get its initial grant funding renewed. Andrews, who chaired the Senate’s Select Committee on Indian Affairs, fixed the issue by inserting INMED funding into the federal Indian Health Service budget as a line item that could not be eliminated without an act of Congress.
Andrews also had the honor of being named the first “Energy Champion” award recipient by the EERC in 1986. The award was presented to Andrews by George Wiltsee, director of the EERC when the center was de-federalized and transitioned to UND. Andrews was honored as an avid supporter of several EERC research initiatives, including more efficient use of coal, reduced environmental impacts and availability of alternatives for oil and gas.
Current EERC CEO Charlie Gorecki called Andrews a true champion for the EERC.
“His efforts assured our continued relationship with the U.S. Department of Energy, which continues to impact EERC’s success today,” Gorecki said. “We are saddened by the news of his passing, and our thoughts are with his family.”
Sen. Andrews also was the reason former President Ronald Reagan paid a visit to UND during a 1986 standing-room-only re-election rally for Andrews at the Hyslop Sports Center.
UND President Andrew Armacost also recognized Andrews’ wide-reaching contributions and lasting influence on the University.
“Sen. Andrews’ strong bond with UND Aerospace founder John Odegard helped make that school what it is today — a world leader in aviation education, training and research. He also was instrumental in the EERC’s rise to prominence as a leading University innovator of alternative fuels and clean-coal research, and played a key role in establishing UND’s INMED program as the nation’s most prolific educator of American Indian physicians,” Armacost said.
“For all this and more, Sen. Andrews’ legacy will not soon be forgotten at the University of North Dakota.”