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Alumni Achievement Award:
Honors those who have achieved exceptional distinction in their professional field.

Terry J. Hanson
Click to watch biography video
1968 B.S. mathematics, NDSU
1970 M.S. education administration, NDSU

Occupation: Retired
Co-Founder and Former Chairman, CEO, President and Director, Ulta
Former President, American Drug Stores (formerly Osco & Savon Drug Stores)
Former President, Pearle Vision

Terry Hanson was destined to be a leader. The oldest of three children, he was a standout athlete at Moorhead High School. He was a tri-captain and quarterback of Moorhead’s 1963 undefeated football team and also played baseball.

The Bison offered Terry a football and baseball scholarship. Although he did not play baseball because it conflicted with spring football, he went on to become a record-setting quarterback for NDSU. As starting quarterback from 1965-67, Terry led the Bison to their first national football championship in 1965 and an impressive 3 season record of 28-3. The week before the first game of the 1967 season, he experienced a serious knee injury-- an injury that threatened his senior season. Under the care of NDSU trainer, Denis “Izzy” Isrow, Terry was able to fulfill his collegiate career as tri-captain and guided his team to an undefeated regular season. That year, the Bison played in the Pecan Bowl and finished ranked #2 in the nation.

While on campus, Terry was also active in Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and Blue Key.

Terry earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1968 and a master’s degree in school administration in 1970. While pursuing his master’s degree, he was a graduate coaching assistant, coaching the freshman backs and scouting for the varsity.

Terry went to NDSU for teaching and coaching, but under the advice of Coach Ron Erhardt, he shifted his career path to the corporate world.

In 1969, he joined Osco Drug as a management trainee—climbing the corporate ladder for 20 years, moving up from District Manager to various Vice President positions and eventually President. He led more than 650 retail stores in 27 states, with more than 27,000 employees. Terry’s leadership helped Osco Drug becomes one of the top drug retailers in the world. In 1988, Osco Drug and Sav-on Drug merged to become American Drugstores. Terry retired from the company in 1989.

But, Terry wasn’t done building successful teams just yet.

In 1990, he developed the idea for a new retail venture, ULTA. He co-founded the company which brought together salon services, cosmetics and fine fragrances all under one roof. Raising $11 million in venture capital, the first year they opened 5 stores and a distribution center in the Chicago area. During his time with ULTA, he was Chairman, CEO, President and Director. He launched ULTA.com in 2001. After retiring from active management in 2002, he continued on the board of directors until 2008. ULTA’s Initial Public Offering was in 2007. ULTA now has 550 stores producing about $2.2 billion dollars in annual sales and employs more than 15,000 people.

But Terry still wasn’t done…In 2003 he was recruited to serve as president of Pearle Vision, until the business was sold in 2004.

Being a top executive never stopped Terry from being a devoted husband and loving father. Terry is married to the love of his life, Susan, and together they have been blessed with four children; Kirsten, Kevin, Ryan and Bo, 3 daughters-in-law; Lisa, Jenine and Cristina and five (soon to be six) grandchildren. The Hansons reside in Naperville, IL.

Now that Terry is officially retired, we are fortunate to have him serve as a trustee with the NDSU Foundation.

Terry has been honored for his exceptional contributions to NDSU athletics by being inducted into the Bison Hall of Fame and the Bison Hall of Champions. This award honors him for his exceptional talent off the field. In acknowledgement of his remarkable career, Terry Hanson is deservedly recognized with the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award.

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