BISMARCK, ND — Dale Lennon, regarded as one of the most successful football coaches at the University of North Dakota and known for his class and integrity, according to his former boss, Southern Illinois Athletic Director Tommy Bell, accepted an administrative role as director of Public Affairs at the University of Mary in Bismarck.

Dale Lennon coaching at Southern Illinois University

Dale Lennon coaching at Southern Illinois University

“I feel extremely fortunate to be returning to the University of Mary as the director of Public Affairs,” said Lennon, who grew up in Knox, ND, and worked at his dad’s grain elevator while attending Rugby High School. “My family and I have maintained close relationships with the school throughout the years, and returning to the university and the Bismarck community has been a scenario that we always hoped would become a reality.”

Lennon goes from walking the sidelines and calling plays on the gridiron to game-planning marketing strategies and helping quarterback community relations for the University of Mary as it embarks on its new Vision 2030 Capital Campaign.

“I’m especially impressed with the growth at Mary since I left and I look forward to being a part of their future developmental plans. It’s obvious that the University of Mary is committed to creating an incredible educational experience for their students while having a positive cultural influence both regionally and throughout the world. I’m excited to join the team.”

Monsignor James Shea

Monsignor James Shea, President of the University of Mary

University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea compares running an NCAA Division I football program these days with being the CEO of a small business.  He said, “Coaching at that level involves managing personnel; driving operational, fiscal, and administrative activities; providing visionary leadership; and bolstering community support through media and community engagement.”

“This certainly feels like a winning touchdown,” quipped Shea.  “We’ve all admired Dale wherever he has gone.  His character is strong and his leadership style commands attention.  He is a winner in all aspects of his life, and we’re grateful to have him on the team.”

Jerome Richter Vice President for Public Affairs

Jerome Richter
Vice President for Public Affairs

A team led by the Vice President of Public Affairs Jerome Richter. Richter, who Lennon will work alongside, had this to say: “The opportunity to bring back a person of Dale’s caliber and character is truly exciting, and I thank the good Lord for this blessing. Dale brings a vast skill set with a unique perspective. He’s a perfect fit for Mary and our Bismarck-Mandan community as he’ll help us continue to grow our university and drive our mission.”

Sister Thomas Welder

Sister Thomas Welder

Lennon coached the University of Mary football program from 1997 through 1999, earning the Marauders a conference championship and a berth in the playoffs. While only with the Marauders for a brief stint, it made a lasting impression on the person who first hired Lennon almost 20 years ago — “Dale’s a real people person who got to know the families of his athletes and always put the student first,” stated Sister Thomas Welder, president emerita at the University of Mary. “Dale is a visionary who embraces our mission and believes strongly in family, faith and community. Those who talk of Dale will often say ‘I love the guy.'”
Nearly a decade ago in Bozeman, MT, Lennon was quoted as having an eye for the “little things,” and giving great attention to detail. He went on to talk about a simple philosophy that many leaders attempt, but are not always able to execute. “The whole key, here, is everyone pulling in the right direction.”

In 2008 Lennon left Grand Forks for Carbondale, IL, where he coached the Southern Illinois Salukis to two conference championships, two playoff appearances and earned conference and region coach of the year honors.

Dale Lennon coaching at the University of North Dakota

Dale Lennon coaching at the University of North Dakota

When Lennon begins his duties at Mary on Monday, February 22, he will reunite with two longtime friends – Roger Thomas and Josh Kotelnicki — fortuitously, completing three generations of the Thomas coaching tree currently present at Mary. Thomas, the athletic director at Mary, who coached and mentored the running back at the University of North Dakota during the 1979 season, calls Lennon loyal and a real standup guy who has that North Dakota work ethic. Kotelnicki, the Marauders current head football coach, who captained and played linebacker for Lennon’s UND team in 2001 that won the NCAA Division II Championship, regards his former skipper as a role model.