GRAND FORKS, N.D. — In response to the growing pilot shortage, the University of North Dakota (UND) has established a $1.5 million scholarship endowment for high achieving students to earn their wings.
The endowment was made possible by matching $500,000 contributions from the non-profit UND Aerospace Foundation, UND Promise Scholarship Program, and James C. Ray Foundation.
“We are constantly looking for ways of attracting the best and brightest students to UND,” said UND President Mark Kennedy. “Endowments like this will help us by providing scholarship dollars specifically for recruitment.”
UND Aerospace began in 1968 with just two planes and 12 students. Today, it owns and operates a fleet of more than 150 aircraft and flight training devices, and provides pilot training to nearly 2,000 students from 12 different countries amassing approximately 150,000 flight hours a year.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, UND Aerospace is increasing the pool of scholarship dollars specifically offered to high school seniors.
“We need to help more students achieve the dream of attending college without overloading their families with student loan debt,” said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation.
UND Aerospace was first in the nation to offer an undergraduate business degree that combines a liberal arts core curriculum with professional flight training, and also established the first undergraduate major in unmanned aircraft systems operations, according to university officials.
It offers majors in aviation/airport management, commercial aviation, air traffic control, flight education, aviation technology management and unmanned aircraft systems. Students can earn private pilot, commercial pilot and certified flight instructor certificates, and are often employed as flight instructors at the university.
“UND Aerospace soars far beyond training and educating qualified pilots,” said UND Aerospace Foundation Chair Larry Martin. “We prepare students for leadership positions in government, business and industry. Our graduates fly for major U.S. and international airlines and enter highly challenging careers working for corporate flight departments, aircraft manufacturers, NASA and the FAA, among many other organizations.”
The new James C. Ray Memorial Freshman Scholarship Endowment was named in honor of the late James C. Ray, who died earlier this year at age 94 and contributed more than $25 million dollars to aviation and entrepreneurial programs at UND over his lifetime.