The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education has approved Henry Herr -- executive, philanthropist, two-time UND graduate and a native North Dakotan -- to receive an honorary doctorate degree from UND, the university said in a press release.

A retired executive with 40 years of experience in health care finance and service delivery, Herr helped found Healthways and AmSurg, two companies that have shaped the landscape of the health care industry.

Herr won the UND Sioux Award, the highest honor given by the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, in 2015. Herr earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting from UND. He is a member of the UND Accounting Hall of Fame.

"I wholeheartedly support the nomination of Henry Herr for an honorary doctorate degree from the University of North Dakota," Katherine Campbell, professor and chair of the Department of Accountancy at UND, wrote in her nomination letter for Herr. "He is thoughtful, observant and principled in every endeavor. His humility, gratitude and generosity are notable.”

Interim UND President Joshua Wynne said Herr is the “embodiment of UND’s leader-in-action spirit and the epitome of the hopes and dreams we have for all students and graduates of this great university.”

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“By awarding an honorary degree to Henry Herr, we are demonstrating our university pride in our connection to a great man and our thanks for his role in strengthening health care services across the nation,” said Wynne. “In particular, Henry’s focus on the importance of primary care and disease prevention rather than treatment was prescient.”

Herr served as CFO of Healthways from 1981 to 2001, and on the company's board from 1981 to 2009. He served as AmSurg's CFO from 1992 to 1994, and on that company's board from 1992 to 2016.

Herr and his wife, Judee, live in Monteagle, Tenn. They have two children. Over the years, the Herrs have provided significant financial support to UND, including the Kulas Koppenhaver Faculty Professorship Endowment and the Kulas Koppenhaver Memorial Technology Fund, according to UND.

“Henry is absolutely a UND hero to students in the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration,” said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation. “His love for UND comes through in his generous support of students walking the same path he walked. He is so deserving to receive an honorary degree from a university for which he cares so much.”

No official date has been set when Herr will receive his recognition, which traditionally takes place during commencement ceremonies at UND. Spring commencement has been canceled at UND amid the coronavirus pandemic.

From time to time, the university requests permission to hand out honorary degrees. In recent years, former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, oil mogul Harold Hamm and Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel have received honorary degrees from the university.