Henry Herr told a crowd of about 200 people that he has always been able to trace his successes in life back to his experience at UND about 50 years ago.
"Everyone who knows me and works with me knows about my pride in North Dakota and my loyalty to North Dakota," he said.
Herr was one of four UND alumni who were honored and received the Sioux Award at a banquet Thursday evening.
The other three who received the highest honor given by the UND Alumni Association and Foundation were Dave Veeder, Patrick Dirk and Jill Cholewa.
Herr grew up in Bismarck before attending UND, becoming a successful accountant and getting into health care management. He said UND's accounting program has always been a source of joy for him, even after he left the area to pursue a career on the West Coast and in southern states.
Veeder was raised east of Watford City, N.D., and worked as a chemical engineer with a degree from UND, traveling the world for years after graduation. He decided to become a lawyer and opened his own firm working in environmental, tax, real estate and labor law before also getting involved in commercial real estate development and housing.
Dirk was a nontraditional student from Carson, N.D., who enrolled at UND when he was 27 years old and earned a pilot's license, serving as an officer in the North Dakota National Guard and teaching accounting classes. He went on to create and lead several companies and served on the UND Alumni Association and Foundation Board of Directors from 2005 to 2011.
Cholewa, originally from Hillsboro, N.D., ran a successful lumber business after graduating from UND, where she played volleyball. She continues to support athletics at UND and has coached for 30 years.
Young Alumni Achievement Awards were also given to Greg Pinski and Kayla Effertz.
Pinski, now a judge who received his law degree at UND, said he was extremely grateful for the honor and appreciative of the school where he met his wife and began his career.
"Without being the dot that connects all others, my life is truly just a series of dots on a page," he said.
During dinner at the ceremony an elderly attendee was taken out by emergency responders for a medical issue. Herr later told the crowd he had received word the unidentified man was doing well.
Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, UND President Robert Kelley and North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott also spoke at the event,
"North Dakota doesn't just have a lot of energy production," Wrigley said. "It's not incidental to us. Yes, God graced us with that natural resource, but the University of North Dakota has played a central role in the development of the technology that is not only changing our economy, it's changing our nation's economy and global economics when it comes to energy."
More than 450 Sioux Awards have been given out since the honor was created in 1949, and nearly 20 winners were in attendance Thursday.