University of Minnesota Alumni Association



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Response to “And Then It Happened,” Summer 2020

Is there something about the water in small town Northeast Iowa ... benefiting Minnesota and the world?

Reading your fine article and others [in the summer issue] about Michael Osterholm, I am struck by the uncanny life and career similarities between him and another of the University’s most highly esteemed alumni, the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, a 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Dr. Osterholm, of course, is a current world-renowned professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University.

Both individuals were born and raised in Northeast Iowa, Borlaug on a farm near Cresco, where he attended high school in a town of just under 4,000 inhabitants; Osterholm in Waukon, also a town of just under 4,000, located 40 miles east of Cresco. Both were high school athletes and scholars of modest accomplishment (undersized football linemen, questionable college prospects). Both were also unassuming persons of Scandinavian American Lutheran heritage who experienced significant, but different, stressors in their lives growing up.

Both ultimately found their academic legs as undergrads, went to graduate school at the U of M, and earned doctorates in scientific disciplines. Both became internationally acclaimed leaders in their respective fields of expertise. Faced with dire threats to mankind, both are credited with bodies of work saving countless lives.

Borlaug always remained loyal to his roots at the U of M and in Iowa, and Osterholm very much continues to do so as well.

Don Henry, Ph.D. ’71 St. Paul, MN

Thanks for a great summer issue. A great variety of topics, all timely and so well written. Your publication is great!

David L. Duval M.D., M.A. ’69 Fargo, N.D.

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