Two UND professors receive Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor honors

Being named a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor is UND’s highest academic honor.

UND Provost Eric Link (left) and President Andrew Armacost (right) congratulate longtime College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines Professor Glenda Lindseth on Monday after surprising her with the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship.
Contributed / Shawna Schill, UND

GRAND FORKS — A pair of UND professors got the surprise of a lifetime on Monday, April 25, as President Andrew Armacost and other university administrators popped into their lectures to name them as Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors.

Glenda Lindseth, a nursing professor in the College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines, and Julia Zhao, a chemistry professor in College of Arts & Sciences, received the accolade, according to UND Today. Being named a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor is UND’s highest academic honor.

It took a few weeks of planning, including a fake meeting about research, to put Lindseth in place for the announcement. When Armacost and Provost Eric Link knocked on her door, Lindseth was completely unsuspecting.

“Hello, it’s great to be here, we’re just out for a walk on this beautiful day,” said Armacost, in a nod to the previous day’s winter weather. “I just decided to swing by because I have a meeting later this week with an important group of faculty members. They’re known as the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors, and we figured we would add one to that group. What do you say?”

Responded Lindseth: “Oh my gosh, this is a great honor. I can’t believe you made it through all of this (stormy weather) to come over this afternoon.”


Lindseth has been a faculty member for over 40 years. She is the former director and associate dean of nursing research at CNPD.

The university administrators then made their way over to Abbott Hall, where they crashed Zhao’s chemistry lecture in progress.

“We just heard there was an awesome lecture going on, and we thought we’d invite ourselves to sit down and listen,” Armacost said. “Students, you have to realize the most distinctive honor for a faculty member on our campus is an award called the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship, and we’re here to congratulate you on your selection, Dr. Zhao.”

On Jan. 10, NDDPI, and the North Dakota Governor’s Office, announced they partnered with Western Governors University and had awarded the ESSER dollars to a college outside of North Dakota.

In letters read in class by Link, colleagues identified Zhao as an expert in nanoparticles and nanomaterials, who has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, several invited book chapters and a book on the topic. She had also presented her work at conferences worldwide.

“Ohhhh, thank you,” Zhao told Armacost, as her class broke out in applause.

UND Chemistry Professor Julia Zhao, of UND’s College of Arts & Sciences, raises her arms after she learned in a surprise visit from the President Andrew Armacost and Provost Eric Link Monday, that she had been recognized with UND’s highest academic honor.
Contributed / Shawna Schill, UND

Armacost invited the professors to be recognized at the spring commencement ceremony to be held on May 14. Also invited to the ceremony is Sean Valentine, a professor of entrepreneurship and management who received the distinguished professorship in 2020.

Professors eligible to receive the honor must have demonstrated “achievement across research, teaching and service with significant national or regional recognition,” and “significant professional contributions throughout (their) career,” according to UND.

About 80 faculty members have earned the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship since its inception. It was established with an endowment gift from the late UND benefactor Chester Fritz (1892-1983).


Each year, revenue from the endowment provides cash stipends to one or more full-time UND faculty members, who thereafter may use the title Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor.

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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