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Marilyn Hagerty, set to receive an honorary doctorate, celebrated at UND dinner event

The celebratory dinner was held at the Gorecki Alumni Center and attended by Hagerty, UND administrators and several friends and well-wishers.

Marilyn Hagerty is presented with a frame for her honorary degree by UND Alumni Association and Foundation director DeAnna Carlson Zink and UND president Andrew Armacost during a dinner in Hagerty's honor Thursday at the Gorecki Alumni Center. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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Marilyn Hagerty, the Grand Forks Herald’s decades-long voice of the community and columnist, was feted at a dinner on Thursday, Aug. 5, to celebrate her honorary doctorate from UND.

The celebratory dinner was held at the Gorecki Alumni Center and attended by Hagerty, UND administrators and several friends and well-wishers. The honorary degree was announced in March, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, UND did not hold an in-person graduation ceremony following the announcement.

Guests filtered in, enjoyed drinks and chatted before settling down for dinner. After Hagerty was presented with a commemorative UND frame, with which she can display her honorary degree, she warmly thanked people for attending the celebration. She said she is happy to be honored in such a manner, and noted that she got her start in journalism, at the Capital Journal in Pierre, S.D., “to make money to pay the bills on the weekends.”

“Thank you for being my friends. … Just, thank you,” she said.

DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association and emcee of the celebration, reciprocated.


“We thank you for being our friends and for all you do for our community, our university and our state,” Carlson Zink said.

Longtime Grand Forks Herald columnist Marilyn Hagerty reacts during a dinner in her honor at the Gorecki Alumni Center Thursday evening, August 5, 2021. Hagerty will receive a Doctor of Letters honorary degree at Friday's undergraduate commencement ceremony at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. Hagerty's son, Bob is at left. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

UND President Andrew Armacost said he and his wife, Kathy, had read Hagerty’s work before moving to Grand Forks last year, and they anticipated meeting her when they arrived. Hagerty profiled Kathy Armacost, shortly after the presidential couple settled at the campus. Hagerty, Armacost said, exemplified his core values of kindness, respect and dignity to others, and that he was proud Hagerty was the first person to whom he could bestow an honorary degree.

“You epitomize each and every one of (those core values), your sense of hard work (and) your contributions to so many others,” Armacost said. “What I've learned about you since moving to town has been your pioneering work within the city of Grand Forks, in the world of journalism, and you're a real exemplar to so many people.”

Hagerty, raised in South Dakota, is a graduate of the University of South Dakota. She has long been a supporter of UND’s students and sports teams, regularly attending basketball games and events. Carlson Zink noted Hagerty frequently opened her home to students who were unable to return to their homes for holidays.

She has published three collections of her stories and columns throughout her decades-long career at the Herald: "Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews," "Echoes; a Selection of Stories and Columns by Marilyn Hagerty" and "The Best of The Eatbeat with Marilyn Hagerty." She has written nearly 2,000 Eatbeat columns since beginning the series in 1976.

In 2017, Hagerty was presented with the the UND Alumni Association and Foundation’s Spirit Award, given to outstanding alumni or friends of the university. At that same ceremony, she received an honorary master's degree in community engagement, from the late UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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