Carleton M. Opgaard

Carleton M. Opgaard
17th President of Dakota State
In office
Preceded by Charles D. Lein
Succeeded by Charles Luke
 Personal Details
Born February 18, 1929 Fort Ransom, North Dakota
Died July 6th, 2014 Tacoma, Washington


Carleton Opgaard was born February 18, 1929, at Fort Ransom, North Dakota. His career in education began at an early age. After graduating from Fort Ransom High School in 1946, he began his teaching career in a one-room country school at the age of seventeen. Six years later he received his Bachelor of Science degree in English/Speech from Valley City State College of North Dakota. He completed his Master of Arts degree in American Civilization from the University of Wyoming and his Ph.D. degree in Education from the University of Washington. He served with the United States Army for two years. Dr. Opgaard came to Dakota State with a diverse background in education. Before serving as President, he was an elementary, secondary and college classroom teacher; an elementary and secondary principal; a high school counselor; and a college Dean of Instruction. Prior to being appointed president of Dakota State College in 1978, he was the founding President of Malaspina College in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. He began his work at Malaspina when the only building on campus was Nanaimo’s old hospital. Through dedication, perseverance, and the ability to gain the confidence and trust of community, high school and university leaders, he left Malaspina with a campus valued at over 12 million dollars and serving some 1,600 full-time and 1,200 part-time students. Dr. Opgaard brought to the campus several international experiences. He spent one year studying at the University of Oslo, Norway, as a Fulbright Scholar and successfully promoted the exchange of students from Tamagawa University in Tokyo, Japan, and Malaspina College. One of his daughters was an exchange student in Japan and another studies in Germany. His family, in turn, has played host to several foreign exchange students. Dr. Opgaard initiated the DSU summer study program with Tamagawa University. Dr. Opgaard and his wife, Phyllis, have four children: Cheryl, Jane, Jill, and John. He served as a member of several professional associations, including the Association of Canadian Community College Administrators, the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges, Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Canadian Vocational Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals and Phi Delta Kappa. While living in Madison, he was active in the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, as well as serving as President of the Lutheran Church.


Inaugural program of Dr. Carleton Opgaard, May 11, 1979,

and resume.

Written 2003 by Linda Brozik, DSU President’s Office

Madison Daily Leader. Monday, July 14, 2014