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UND aerospace dean announces impending retirement

Bruce Smith

The longtime dean of the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences has announced plans to retire next year.

Bruce Smith, who has served as dean for about 15 years, will retire June 30, 2016.

"It's really just a function of age," he said, laughing. "By 2016, I'll be almost 69 years old."

During Smith's tenure, the aerospace school has grown from offering three undergraduate degrees and one master's to having five programs students can earn doctorate degrees in.

"In the relative environment of higher ed, to do that in that short a period of time with that level of success is almost unheard of," Smith said.

UND also became the first university to offer a bachelor's degree in unmanned aircraft systems studies.

As of last summer, Smith also became a published author. His book, "Nowhere but North Dakota," chronicles the success of UND's aerospace program.

A search committee will be formed shortly to begin the search process for a new dean, but Smith has offered to continue to serve until someone is chosen, even if that means sticking around after June 2016.

But once his time is up, Smith said he plans to start transitioning away from Grand Forks and to a residence he and his wife have in Alabama to be closer to family.

"Some incredible things have happened in the last 15 years, and I'll always cherish that," Smith said.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.