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Gene and Connie NicholasEugene ‘Gene’ Nicholas
BS ’70, Business Economics
Connie Nicholas
BS ’70, Home Economics Education

2019 Heritage Award
The Heritage Award recognizes those who demonstrate outstanding support of time and talent to NDSU projects or activities.

Gene and Connie Nicholas met while attending NDSU and married at the NDSU Newman Center. After graduating, the Nicholases made their home in Cando, N.D. where they raise small grains and manage other business interests.

Gene served in the North Dakota House for 32 years, becoming one of the state’s longest-serving representatives. He chaired the House Agriculture Committee for 13 legislative sessions and is recognized for his leadership in developing innovative agriculture policy that continues to benefit the industry and the state’s economy today.

A strong supporter of economic development and value-added agriculture, Gene was a founding board member of Dakota Growers Pasta, the nation’s largest and first grower-owned pasta company. His business interests also include serving on the boards of Golden Plains Frozen Foods, Becktrom Foods, Inc., and Fargo-based Pedigree Technologies. Among other recognitions, Gene received the 2001 NDSU Outstanding Alumni Award and the Greater North Dakota Association’s Community Leader Award, also in 2001. Gene and Connie also received the NDSU Outstanding Agriculturalist Award in 1990.

Connie, a former teacher in the Cando school system, became a driving force in North Dakota’s political arena. She has also served in volunteer leadership roles for many community, church and state organizations including 4-H and North Dakota Rural Leadership. Connie and Gene are not only partners in business, but also in politics. Connie always managed Gene’s political campaigns and provided support during legislative sessions. Her leadership skills and political acumen were a winning formula, and it didn’t take long before she was tapped to help other Republicans on the local, state and national level. Connie served 17 years on the Republican National Committee. She was secretary of the 2008 Republican National Convention; Secretary of the Republican National Committee and a longtime member of the North Dakota Republican Party Executive Committee. More recently, she was appointed by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple and reappointed by Gov. Doug Burgum to the Higher Education Challenge Fund Grant Review Committee.

Connie was instrumental in establishing the Bison Caucus, a network of NDSU alumni and friends that gives voice to legislative issues important to the university. Connie served in a leadership role for three legislative sessions and led the caucus’s work in support of a legislative change to the state’s higher education funding formula, which continues to be important to NDSU.

The Foundation and Alumni Association relies on NDSU alumni to direct its operations, and the Nicholases have played a key role in this work as well. Gene is a life trustee and Connie serves on the Foundation’s Executive Governing Board and the Local and State Relations Committee. Connie is a member of the NDSU Public Choice and Private Enterprise Advisory Board and has served on the Bison Bidders Bowl Committee. Gene and Connie also are members of Team Makers, the President’s Gold Medallion Society, the Heritage Society and have hosted NDSU alumni and friends at their Scottsdale, Arizona home in support of Bison Arts.

Additionally, the Nicholases have provided financial support for student scholarships, a professorship, the NDSU Impact Fund, the Sanford Health Sports Complex and the NDSU Center for Risk and Trade.

Gene and Connie have three children and eight grandchildren. They spend winters in Arizona and the remainder of the year in North Dakota or their lake home in Minnesota.

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NDSU Foundation | 1241 North University Drive | PO Box 5144 | Fargo, ND 58102 | 800-279-8971 or 701-231-6800 | Fax: 701-231-6801 | office@ndsufoundation.com

The NDSU Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
Federal Tax ID: 23-7120898