News Release

U of M Crookston Announces Four Recipients of the Torch & Shield Award; Recognition scheduled for Wednesday, November 4, 2009

By ltollefs on
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crookston, Minn. - The highest honor given by the University of Minnesota Crookston will recognize three individuals and an organization who have provided leadership and aided in the development of the U of M Crookston, the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC), and Extension. This year's recognition will be held on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, and marks the first time an organization has received the award.

Recipients of the 2009 Torch & Shield Award are:


Orlyn Miller has worked for the University of Minnesota for 22 years and is currently director of planning and architecture. He plays a major role in the development and management of the capital planning and budgeting processes at the university. For the past two decades, he has provided assistance on capital planning and campus planning issues at the Crookston campus including Bergland Laboratory, Early Childhood Development Center, Kiehle Hall renovation, Student Center, and the two most recent residence halls, Evergreen and Centennial. Prior to his work at the university, Miller was a member of a landscape architectural/engineering firm, where he obtained broad experience in strategic planning, project design, project management and governmental relations. Miller and his wife, Sharon, have two children and four grandchildren.

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Jim Sims was head football coach at the U of M Crookston from 1976-1995. During his tenure, the U of M, Crookston Technical College won three division team championships, and he was named division coach of the year twice. Sims taught health, physical education, and recreation and was the program manager for two years. He went on to serve as the co-curricular activities director for the high school in Thief River Falls, Minn., until he retired in 2007. In 2002, Sims was inducted into the U of M, Crookston's Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2008, he was inducted into the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Sims, and his wife, Sharon, have two children and three grandchildren.


Erma J. Vizenor, Ph.D., was elected as the chairwoman of the White Earth Reservation in 2004 and is the first woman to lead the largest tribe in Minnesota.  As chairwoman, she represents all districts on the White Earth Reservation. Vizenor has worked her entire career in education on the White Earth Reservation.  She holds an undergraduate degree in elementary education; a master's degree in guidance and counseling; and a specialist degree in education administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead.  A Bush Leadership fellowship gave her the opportunity to earn a master's degree in community decision-making and life long learning; and a doctoral degree in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University. Vizenor has two daughters and four grandchildren.


The Crookston Daily Times has roots dating back to 1885 and was locally owned until 1972. It is currently owned by Gate House Media, a Fairport, New York-based company that owns approximately 500 media properties. The Times' operation also consists of the Valley Shopper and the Halstad Shopper. The Times itself is widely considered to be the smallest daily newspaper in Minnesota, and one of the smallest dailies in the nation. The paper publishes Monday through Friday and is a rarity in the business in that it goes to press in the afternoon and is delivered in the afternoon. With eight full-time staff members, the staff at the Times includes Publisher Randal Hultgren and newsroom staff consisting of Managing Editor Mike Christopherson, City Editor Natalie J. Ostgaard, and Sports Editor Derek Martin. Through a program with the Carl and Eloise Pohlad Foundation and the Minnesota Newspaper Association, the Times is also able to employ a Crookston High School student as an intern each summer. Also, this school year, through the School to Work program in Fisher, a Fisher High School senior Nickole Wurden is currently spending two hours each morning in the newsroom.

The Torch & Shield Award presentation takes place in conjunction with the U of M Crookston's annual donor recognition. The Torch & Shield Award was first presented in 1966 when it was initiated by Crookston campus Founding Provost Stanley Sahlstrom. 

Today the University of Minnesota Crookston delivers more than 25 applied-science undergraduate degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; math, science and technology; and natural resources. To learn more, visit