Opinion

Dear Editor:

Rarely in our history have the citizens of North Dakota been offered such a global opportunity as to become the home of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. As one of our nation’s greatest Presidents, Roosevelt carried unique ties to our state. We would be fortunate to have the history, research, recognition, and especially the tourism that would come with the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

In my past role as CEO of the University of North Dakota Foundation from 2002-2012, I was part of the largest philanthropic effort in the history of our state, the $325 million North Dakota Spirit Campaign for UND. Notably, 70% of the $325 million committed came from donors outside North Dakota’s borders. Those donors were primarily former citizens who wanted to invest not only in the future of UND, but also in the state which gave them the education and values that would guide their future success.

I can personally attest to the Legislature’s commitment to the ND Higher Education Challenge Grant. It provided the impetus toward the finish line of the North Dakota Spirit Campaign, as a matching fund incentive for investor donors. It was critical that donors knew the citizens of North Dakota would be their “partners” in this philanthropic investment.

I am deeply appreciative not only for the financial commitment of Melani and Rob Walton, but also for the time, talent, and passion they have demonstrated toward the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library project. I serve on the board of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) which has also passed an unanimous resolution in support of the library and museum. Make no mistake, TRMF stands with donors like the Waltons, and the legions of volunteers prepared to make the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library a signature of our great State of North Dakota.

As citizens of North Dakota, I encourage us to join together in support of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library proposal, seeking $50 million from the state with an accompanying $100 million private sector match. I am confident the match will be swiftly met. What other state in the country has such an impactful public/private partnership opportunity before them? I believe the return on investment economically, in stature, education, and other immeasurable ways will be felt for generations to come.

Tim O’Keefe, Former CEO UND Foundation 2002-12,

Grand Forks



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