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2011 Recipients



Karen Inks O’Connor graduated from Fargo South High School in 1978 and enlisted in the United States Navy in 1979. After her initial training as a cryptologist, she completed assignments in Spain, West Virginia, Japan, Scotland, Maryland, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Guam, Hawaii and San Diego and participated in the Global War on Terrorism for both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

After a quick rise through the ranks, Karen was selected to be a Command Master Chief, or senior enlisted Sailor, for an entire crew.

She holds the distinction of three Navy “firsts” for women. She was selected to be the first woman assigned as the enlisted leader for a combatant ship in the Pacific. She was the first female Command Master Chief of a Navy amphibious assault ship or aircraft carrier. She was the first, and still only, female Force Master Chief for the Surface Navy, where she represented almost 100,000 Sailors.

From 2003-2006 she was one of the 16 top enlisted Sailors, and served on an executive panel which focused on career path development, health and welfare, and family support. Her personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (twice), Navy Commendation Medal (four times), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various campaign and service awards.

Now retired, Karen is a naval Civil Servant and serves in the San Diego community as an advocate for military personnel and their families. In 2009 she was recognized as “The New Face of Military Veterans” for her community support.

Karen has a degree in English and is currently seeking her master’s in global leadership.

Her achievements are “beyond incredible,” says Tom Howard, retired Navy Fleet Master Chief.

“I have met few Sailors that embody the characteristics of those represented by Karen O’Connor,” he says.



New York Magazine has named Dr. William N. Levine as one of New York's "Best Doctors" for the last 10 years. His story of hard work, dedication and success goes way beyond the headline.

The 1982 Fargo South High graduate is a professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. His career has been, in a word, distinguished.

As one of the country's leading physicians and researchers in sports medicine, William has been a co-author of over 90 peer-reviewed articles and 35 book chapters. He has led seminars on new techniques and procedures. He has been honored by many groups and publications.

Classmate David Kline, a Fargo South Hall of Fame member, said Bill's work ethic sets him apart.

"Not only does he teach young doctors, have a thriving practice at multiple locations, perform surgery on a host of famous athletes he's too modest to talk about, he also attends an insane number of Columbia University sporting events as its team and on-site physician," Kline says.

William received his bachelor's degree in human biology from Stanford and his Doctor of Medicine from Case Western Reserve. He was a resident in orthopedic surgery at New England Medical Center, and held fellowships at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in shoulder surgery and University of Maryland in sports medicine.

He has been the Residency Program Director at Columbia for the last eight years, Director of Sports Medicine since 1998, and Associate Director for the Center for Shoulder, Elbow and Sports Medicine since 1998.

Classmate Brian Hayer, a Fargo South Hall of Fame inductee, says William was a scholar, standout athlete and active student at South.

“Having known Bill since grade school, I am not at all surprised by his accomplishments,” Hayer says.



Maggie Mitzel has dedicated her life to serving people in her hometown.

A member of the first freshman class at Fargo South High and a 1971 graduate, she has been a longtime educator in the Fargo Public School system. Her experience has run the gamut, from teacher’s aide, classroom teacher, counselor, counselor coordinator, assistant principal, and to her current role as principal.

“She is a master at active learning,” says Rick Buresh, superintendent of Fargo Public Schools. “Her gentle calmness, facial expression and body language all express sincerity, integrity, and an interest in learning about the views of others.”

Maggie has been an elementary school principal for 14 years. She’s currently in charge of Kennedy, the largest elementary school in Fargo.

She has been a leader in developing and supporting the district elementary counseling program and was instrumental in creating and implementing the district crisis response plan. She has served on district committees and task forces focused on curriculum development, safe and drug-free schools, crisis response, and professional development.

Maggie has a love for people and gift of patience, says Barbara Witteman, professor of education at Concordia College.

“With Maggie it isn’t about accolades for her personal success. Rather, she sees the success of her peers, staff and students,” Witteman says.

Maggie began her career as a teacher’s aide in 1971. She was an English teacher for 11 years and special education teacher for eight years. She was an elementary counselor for 10 years. She was Title IV and elementary counselor coordinator for eight years.

Witteman, who taught at Kennedy while on sabbatical from Concordia, says Maggie knows every student and calls them by name.

“My own students were not afraid to go and talk to her about any problems they had because they knew that she cared,” Witteman says.



Ed Raymond is a man of many talents. And, as it turns out, many careers.

Before he became a Marine Corps Machine Gun Platoon Leader and Rifle Company Commander in the mid-1950s, his work experience included stints as a farm worker, carnival worker, foot-long hotdog salesman, baseball player and quartet singer with Cedric Adams’ Miss America Road and Radio Show.

He began his career in education in 1958 as an English, journalism and creative writing teacher at Fargo Central High. He was the principal of Fargo South from 1970 to 1977. After that he was an administrator for public relations for Fargo schools and principal of Horace Mann Elementary and Fargo North High.

Betty Malen, a professor of education policy studies at the University of Maryland, first met Ed when he was her English and journalism teacher in high school. She later accepted a teaching position at South when he was principal. She calls him a gifted educator and courageous leader.

“He was the architect of innovative education programs that enhanced the learning experiences and life chances of all the students in his care, and an advocate for essential social services for youth in the broader community,” she says.

Ed helped develop a drop-out prevention program and launched the Individualized Learning Center for so-called “at-risk” students. He also talked candidly about drug and alcohol abuse when it was not fashionable. He encouraged all students and teachers to tap into their talents.

“As you consider all his accomplishments, you see a highly intelligent, articulate and caring individual,” retired South principal Richard Warner says.

Ed retired from education in 1992. Since then he has been tweaking the noses of conservatives and others as “The Gadfly.” His columns have appeared in several weekly newspapers, most recently in Fargo’s High Plains Reader.



Dr. Douglas Schlicht's career in medicine has taken him to some of the top hospitals and programs in the country. Those around him say his real vocation is volunteerism.

The 1985 Fargo South High graduate is a staff anesthesiologist at Appleton Medical Center in Appleton, Wis. He's also a father, parent, coach, officer and humanitarian.

"Not only has he given up his time and talents for personal growth, he also has given to his community and country and to the less fortunate," former Fargo South faculty member Robert Hendricks says.

Douglas has been active in medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic, providing anesthesia care for the poor. He has been an officer in the National Guard and U.S. Naval Reserve. He coaches youth basketball and is involved in his local parish and school.

Douglas received a biology degree from the University of Mary and graduated from the University of North Dakota Medical School. Sister Thomas Welder, former Mary president, says Douglas learned to balance the demands of athletics and academics, and showed a wide range of positive influence.

"The nominee had a special talent for encouraging and supporting others who may have been disheartened and could motivate his team members on and off the court," she says.

Douglas excelled in academics and athletics at Fargo South. A standout basketball player for the Bruins, he set a single season record for his 64 percent field-goal shooting. That mark has stood for at least 25 years.

Douglas has never chosen one social group over another, South classmate David Weiler says.

"He has the gift to talk music with those who are in the arts, he has the gift to relate to those who are athletes, and more importantly, has always treated his peers with the dignity that each deserves," he says.



Steve Shirley became one of the youngest college presidents in the country when he took over at Valley City State University in 2008, at the age of 35. His supporters thought it was about time.

Steve had co-authored numerous pieces in academic publications and delivered several presentations at national conferences. His doctoral dissertation entitled “The Gender Gap in Post-Secondary Study Aboard: Understanding and Marketing to Male Students” won two prestigious awards. He was named a vice president and dean of student affairs after seven years as a college professor.

Dakota State University President Douglas Knowlton hired Steve as vice president in 2004 and nominated him to be president at VCSU.

“Because of his youth and inexperience I thought he might not be seen as a viable candidate,” Knowlton says. “Steve’s significant professional and personal assets overcame all these concerns about his age, and the committee in North Dakota made a very wise decision to name him president.”

William Goetz, chancellor of the North Dakota University System, says it was a wise choice indeed.

“The duration of his presidency has brought energy to the campus, respect of students, faculty, staff and his administrative team,” Goetz says.

Steve’s own higher education came in his home state. He received his bachelor’s degree, master of business administration degree and doctoral degree from the University of North Dakota.

Steve was an honor student at Fargo South. He was active in DECA and represented the school in numerous regional and national meetings. He participated in the prominent Close-Up program and earned a trip to Washington, D.C. to learn about government.

Says UND professor Myrna Olson, who worked with Steve on his dissertation research: “In summary, Dr. Steve Shirley has impeccable character, remarkable energy, and a tireless passion for improving education in the state of North Dakota.”