The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) will hold its 2003 Baccalaureate Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 17 at 12 noon in the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC). Over 925 graduates will take part, marking one of UMD's largest commencements ever.
Featured speaker will be Duluth resident David Zentner, nationally recognized citizen conservation activist and UMD graduate. During the ceremonies, Zentner will be presented an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for public service by Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin. Student speaker will be Julia Conkel from Glencoe, Minnesota. Conkel is a summa cum laude graduate in the UMD College of Education and Human Service Professions.
David Zentner graduated from UMD in 1959 with bachelor of arts degrees in business administration and economics. An avid angler and hunter, for more than 40 years he has led local, state and national efforts to protect and to preserve the environment. He has fought for protection of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, has advocated for creation of the Voyageurs National Park, and has coordinated numerous conservation efforts in Minnesota--from the public/private Partners for Wetlands program, to the Re-Invest in Minnesota program.
Zentner has received many awards for his work, including the "54 Founders Award," the Izaak Walton League's highest national award. In 1998 he received the "Conservation Award for Individual Achievement," a national award from Outdoor Life magazine. This is the magazine's most prestigious award and is considered one of the most honored achievements in the conservation world. He also received in 1998 the "National Chevron Conservation Award," Citizen Volunteer Category. The Chevron program is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious conservation awards programs.
In addition to his conservation work, Zentner has been an active supporter of UMD. He has served on the UMD Alumni Association Board of Directors, and as the association's president in 1966-67. He was one of the original founders of the North Star Fund scholarship program (later named the Rasmussen Fund). He was also a founding member of the Blueline Club (the original hockey booster club) and of the Bulldog Club in 1997, serving as the chair of the Board of Trustees.
Chancellor Martin said, "As Minnesota's most prominent citizen conservation activist, Dave Zentner has made a lasting impact on the environment both locally and nationally. He is a respected community leader, and his strong support of UMD has set a high standard for alumni involvement. We are proud to present him with this honorary Doctor of Laws degree for public service."
Zentner has been an insurance agent and financial planner with Principal Financial Group in Duluth for 44 years. He and his wife Margo have two grown children.