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Alumni Memories

UMD's 125th Anniversary

collage of UMD students

Celebrate UMD's 125th Anniversary with the Office of Alumni Relations. 

The Office of Alumni Relations invites you to share your alumni memories as UMD celebrates its 125 year anniversary. Be a part of activities throughout the year and celebrate alumni contributions to their communities, the campus, and the world.


Barbara Woitel Arel, 1970, Elementary Education
"It was the spring of 1970 and my roommate and I were pulling an all-nighter finishing up projects. We lived in Burntside Hall facing the library and the ROTC building. There had been a bombing at the University of Wisconsin and a few threats to other campuses including ours. In the predawn morning, we saw flashing blue lights by the ROTC building. We thought it was the bomb squad. Should we alert our unit friends? Were we in danger? As the sun came up, we saw it was the street sweeper, had a good laugh, and decided to catch a few hours of sleep before our first class. My roommate and I both became teachers. I met my husband of almost 50 years in the UMD cafeteria, and we have lived in North Carolina for over 25 years. I am retired from Person County Schools in N.C., but I have fun going to preschools in our area dressed as Mother Goose and doing a nursery rhyme presentation using props and puppets."


Judith M. Davis, '80, BA Interdisciplinary Studies, Chemical Dependency, and Business Administration
I was a transfer student to finish college at 30 years old. After that I have been involved as a WI Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor and MN licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, working in counseling and supervision for over 40 years in these two states. UMD prepared me well for my career. I am happily retired and volunteer at MNTC Rochester, Minn."

Katy Hargis '83
I was in the era of smelting on the Lester River. When I was an RA in L Griggs, (it was a co-ed floor), all the girls were screaming one morning as I woke up and raced down the hall--the boys on the floor above had gone smelting the night before and put smelt, that were still swimming, in each of the bathroom sinks!"

John Kessler, '83, BA Education and Political Science
"I had two roommates, and we lived in Griggs D. I remember standing with these guys one afternoon in 1980, looking out the window. We were watching a crew dismantle the observatory dome and take it off the roof of 

An observatory dome on top of a brick building.

Sketch of the future observatory dome.

Marshall W. Alworth Hall. There had been a telescope inside the dome, but the telescope needed repair and the company had gone out of business, so the university was able to find someone who would take the dome. We had a good view of the operation looking down across Kirby Drive." John is a construction project manager for UMD's Department of Facilities Management.

A couple dressed in University gear for a football game.

Ashley McMahon '15, Psychology, and Brooks McMahon '15, Business Administration.

The university is interested in bringing the observatory and a telescope back to the same spot at UMD. Find out more about the fundraising now underway.


Ashley McMahon '15 Psychology, Brooks McMahon '15 Business Administration
"My husband (Brooks) and I met the very first day of college at UMD in 2011! We had a communication class together and when he found out I was from the town his family has a cabin in (and that I had a car as a freshman), he asked for my number. We started officially dating a few weeks later and were inseparable ever since! We got engaged on the Duluth shores of Lake Superior in September 2016 (exactly 5 years later!). We even had the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge "live cam" on the projector screen at our wedding. We had some of the best years of our life at UMD and in Duluth that we will cherish forever!" Ashley and Brooks live in Madison, Wis.

A ceramic water pitcher with a bird face painted on it

Pablo Picasso, Water Pitcher with Bird Face, 1954. Earthenware, glaze. Tweed Museum of Art, UMD

Kimberly Stella '10 BA History 
"I was an intern at the Tweed Museum of Art, and I remember carrying this water pitcher painted to look like a blue chicken. It was made by Pablo Picasso, and I had to walk across the room with it in my gloved hands. I remember being super nervous, 'What if I drop this? Will I get booted from the internship?' I even asked my adviser what would happen to me. They only responded, 'Just don’t drop it.' This a memory that stuck with me." After UMD, Kimberly moved to New York City, and before she landed at HarperCollins Publishers, where she is a production associate helping to make children’s and young adult books, she had other jobs. She worked at the New York Historical Society, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Isamu Noguchi Museum, and the Imaging and Rights department at The Morgan Library and Museum.