Grand Forks named fifth best small college town in America

UND administrators cite cultural attractions, city government’s partnership with the university as contributory factors

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Students walk along University Ave. on the UND campus Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Grand Forks was recently recognized as the fifth best small college town in America, an announcement that does not surprise UND administrators.

“Grand Forks offers amazing quality of life for all whether it is in the arts, dining/nightlife, outdoor activities and sporting events,” said Meloney Linder, vice president of marketing and communications at UND. “Grand Forks also offers students tremendous opportunities to engage with local businesses and government. Add all of that to the large number of local organizations that offer networking and volunteer opportunities depending on your interest, Grand Forks offers something for everyone, and don’t forget the easy commute.”

UND President Andrew Armacost highlighted objective proof of the close ties between campus and community — two nationally renowned awards.

The International Town and Gown Association awards its annual Larry Abernathy Award, honoring the community that best exemplifies collaboration between city and university. UND was the 2021 recipient, in large part due to the retention of young professionals — a 48% increase in residents aged 25-39 according to the organization’s website.

The city and university have also partnered together on an initiative to improve University Avenue, the main road connecting campus and downtown. Initially a project to repair potholes, efforts have since added traffic safety features, sidewalks and parks.


In March 2022, the American Council on Education awarded UND its annual ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation. The council cited UND’s dynamic and innovative curriculum, including their recent partnership with the U.S. Space Force, the only such partnership in the nation.

Grand Forks’ fifth place ranking out of 200 cities surveyed was compiled by Preply, an e-learning platform focused on language acquisition. Cities were ranked according to three categories — wallet friendliness, social environment and economic opportunities. Within these categories are indicators such as average rent, crime rates, average net salary and unemployment rate. Fargo, home to North Dakot State University, ranked as the 48th best small college town in America.

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