UND has received a $5 million donation to support students and the university’s entrepreneurship and management school.
Tom and Konnie Middleton made the donation to the School of Entrepreneurship & Management School, under the university’s business college. The school will be named after them.
Tom Middleton is a 1972 UND graduate who grew up in Bowesmont, N.D., in Pembina County. Konnie Middleton (maiden name Peach) graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks and earned a degree in education in 1975. They are retired and living in Arizona.
“Konnie and I are very excited, honored and humbled to partner with UND and the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration,” Tom Middleton said in a statement. “We have been very fortunate and we greatly value giving. We saw a tremendous opportunity to give both back and forward for the benefit of the university, its faculty and students.”
DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, said the Middletons are “making a bold statement of support for the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration.”
“They wanted to maximize the impact of their gift on the lives of UND students,” she said. “We are grateful and humbled that they entrusted us to carry out their philanthropic vision.”
The gift was revealed during a presentation by UND President Andrew Armacost to the State Board of Higher Education on Thursday, Jan. 28. Changing the name of a school, like the School of Entrepreneurship & Management, requires approval from the board. The name change was approved unanimously.
Tom Middleton spent his career in sales, sales management and marketing with Johnson and Johnson and its various pharmaceutical subsidiaries. Konnie Middleton was a clothing buyer for department store chains before working at home to raise their two daughters, Nicole and Lindsay.
“New and renovated buildings on our campus are wonderful, but it’s the programs occurring inside them which enable our students and faculty to engage in the education, conduct the research and provide the engagement opportunities that produce the leaders North Dakota needs,” Armacost said.
This is the first school to be named in the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration.
“The Middleton School of Entrepreneurship & Management will represent who we have been, who we are, and who we strive to be,” Dr. Amy Henley, dean of the NCoBPA, said. “Thanks to Tom and Konnie, we will be the premier provider of entrepreneurship education in the Midwest.”
This is the second large donation in the last few years related to UND's business school. In 2019, Werner and Colleen Nistler donated $20 million to UND toward the construction of a new College of Business and Public Administration building on the UND campus. Construction is already underway on the $70 million project, which also secured a $20 million match from the North Dakota Legislature in 2019.
UND's business college was renamed after the Nistlers following the donation.
Armacost added that the Middletons' “most generous gift" will have a "real and lasting impact on the future of our state and its citizens by contributing to a stronger and more diverse economy.”
The NCoBPA is the largest business school in North Dakota and serves an average of 1,400 undergraduate students and 350 graduate students per year.