Honorary Doctor of Leadership, Reverend William C. Sherman

Commencement Program text:
Reverend William C. Sherman

Father William “Bill” Sherman is a pastor in Grand Forks, ND who has been serving St. Michael’s Church for the past 26 years. Sherman, a loved and respected educator-priest, is most recognized for his interest in North Dakota’s ethnic history. He has written many books on the subject including Plain Folks: A History of Ethnic Groups in North Dakota, Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of North Dakota, and African Americans in North Dakota. Sherman has also just completed work on a volume detailing the Syrian-Lebanese experience in North Dakota, which will be published this spring.

“This vast expanse of treeless plains made me really curious,” Sherman explained about the motivation behind his writing. “What kind of people came here and what kinds of people stayed? I have spent much of my life studying the uniqueness of the people of the Great Plains.”

Sherman, who was born in Detroit, MI in 1927, attended school in Oregon, North Carolina, and North Dakota. Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Japan towards the end of World War II. After his tour of duty, Sherman enrolled at St. John’s University and completed his undergraduate studies and seminary work. Ordained as a priest in 1955, he went on to complete a master’s degree in sociology at the University of North Dakota where he taught religion and was involved with the Newman Center. Sherman taught sociology at North Dakota State University until two years ago. He is now a professor emeritus at NDSU.

Beside serving as pastor at St. Michael’s, Sherman enjoys writing, hunting, and fishing. He is also active in the American Legion, several Germans from Russia organizations, Sons of Norway and the Ukrainian Institute.

“It’s an easy life,” said Sherman. “all you have to do is be a nice guy, say your prayers, and be good to your people.”

Introduction at Commencement:

Reverend William C. Sherman

When Father Bill Sherman, born in Detroit, a student in Oregon, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Minnesota, and soldier in Texas and Japan, was ordained for the diocese of Fargo in 1955, he stated, “I think this is a good country, good people, lots of elbow room and the challenge of the seasons and all that.” Father William Sherman served as pastor in places like Verona and Enderlin. Loved and respected by all, he is now in his 27th year as pastor at St. Michael’s in Grand Forks. In that time, Father Sherman became one of the best-known scholars on North Dakota history, especially ethnic history. His books on North Dakota’s ethnic groups include one on African-Americans and a study of people with Arabic backgrounds. He has been the national chaplain for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and is active in the Ukrainian Institute, the Sons of Norway, the Red River Danes and the Lake Agazzi Swedes. He is on the board of the North Dakota Humanities Council. Numerous awards have been presented to Father Sherman for his efforts to make our community, state and world a better place to live.

And now, with deep respect and gratitude, I call Father Sherman forward.


University of Mary

At its May 3, 2003 Commencement
the University of Mary confers the degree of
Doctor of Leadership, honoris causa,
Reverend William C. Sherman

An exceptional leader who distinguished himself in the responsible search for and service of truth.

A man of God, a man for the People of God: Father William Sherman is both a pastor and a scholar recognized for his contributions to understanding of ethnicity in our region. As a young soldier stationed in post-war Japan, where he observed first hand the devastation of war, he was drawn to choose a life of loving service. Pivotal places in his remarkable career are St. Michael’s in Grand Forks and the sociology department and Newman Center of North Dakota State University in Fargo. Persevering despite drought and deluge, this priest-professor is able to discern wisely how best to blend the innovative and the traditional. In the midst of his demanding dual career, he also serves as a regent of this University. Now a professor emeritus of NDSU, he continues to author significant studies.

In recognition of his dedication and distinguished achievements, the University of Mary confers on the Reverend William C. Sherman the degree of Doctor of Leadership honoris causa.


Sister Thomas Welder, President
Dr. Harold J. Miller, Chairman of the Board

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