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UND more meaningful second time around

When he went to UND 40 years ago, Doug Norby was 17. He had a good time. The only problem, he said, was that he forgot to go to classes. He did acquire 45 credit hours before he dropped out.

When he went to UND 40 years ago, Doug Norby was 17. He had a good time. The only problem, he said, was that he forgot to go to classes. He did acquire 45 credit hours before he dropped out.

Since then, he has established a successful business, Norby's Work Perks, with a staff of 16. He and his wife, Sandy, have raised a family of three children who are all college graduates. The Norbys are now grandparents.

And Norby is back as a student at UND.

This time, he is determined to get a degree. It was something he wanted for his children and when his son, Matt, walked across the stage to pick up his diploma, Doug Norby made himself a vow. He would finish his degree and make his grandchildren proud of him. He wants them to go to college. So, he is back on the campus two days a week. He is majoring in art with an emphasis on photography.

On days when he isn't in his office downtown, Norby is in the art department in Hughes Fine Arts Center.

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Most of the art students are traditional-age college students. But there are several majoring in art who are older-than-average students this year. And across the campus, there are 2,500 students older than 25, considered nontraditional students. Some are graduate students. Others have come back to finish what they once started.

More examples

Susan Kauk is an art student who didn't think she was college material years ago. Now a grandmother and mother of three grown children, she is majoring in art and serving as housemother for the Delta Gamma sorority. She hopes to have an exhibit in the fall.

Rachel Kopp, 45, first went to college in the 1980s, but dropped out when she married. Now, her daughter is 19, and she is back in school planning to graduate in the spring after studying graphic design and time-based media. Her husband, Bruce Kopp, is a certified public accountant in Grand Forks.

Crystal Bailly, 30, is a single mother with four children. She graduated from East Grand Forks Senior High, and she has decided she will find the time to major in art at UND and get her degree.

Crystal was one of a half-dozen students in the sculpture class I attended Thursday with Norby. Professor Patrick Luber was supervising in the foundry where students were breaking open the molds - or investments - in which they had enclosed their brass sculptures. Inside chunks of plaster and sand, the work of each student was encased. Out came such pieces as a foot and a ball on a pedestal and Norby's design of paint tubes with paint flowing from them.

Luber is an active artist as well as a professor, with works on display right now in galleries in Washington, D.C., and Montana. He believes it helps aspiring artists to learn how to exhibit and prepare for them. His sculpture class runs from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the weeks to come, the students will clean and polish their sculptures as they learn the process of casting and processing bronze artwork.

There are 125 majoring in art this year at UND along with the students who take classes in the department. Arthur Jones, who is professor and chair, said Norby and the other nontraditional students have come into the art department at a time of change. New programs include one in graphic design leading to a bachelor's degree in fine arts. There also will be a change in the name, to the Department of Art and Design.

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A visiting artist program is being established, and visiting artist Audrey Flack will be returning to the campus. She is an internationally known New York artist whose Daphne bronze sculpture has been on display in Hughes Fine Arts Center Myers Art Gallery and is now part of the permanent collection.

At this time, a center is being arranged on campus where all art pieces of UND will be gathered.

Norby and other older-than-average students seem to sense the excitement around the art department. He is primarily interested in photography, and that is the emphasis of his art studies. In contrast to the days long ago when he was barely making it, he now is getting mostly A's and B's. It isn't, he said, that he is smarter than other students - just that he is older. "Things mean more to me now because I have had more experiences. These are the years when you can view art for what it means. You just apply it to things you have seen."

In the past year back in school, Norby said, he has learned more about life than about art. He is enthusiastic about the excellence of the art department at UND.

This semester, Norby is taking 18 credits and has full days of classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's almost too much when he considers he has the other days at his own office. But he said his wife, Sandy, runs the design department, and they have a talented staff of people at Norby's Work Perks. He has discovered he doesn't have to be there five days a week.

His goal is in sight to get his degree in 2009. And then . . . he said Sandy just might start when he is done.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or at (701) 772-1055.

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