Henry Tweten. Photo by John Stennes, GF Herald.
February 5, 2021
— The Northland Community & Technical College community is saddened by the passing of the college’s dedicated patron, Henry Tweten. Tweten was an ardent supporter of Northland and champion of education in East Grand Forks.
A proud member of the East Grand Forks community, Tweten graduated from high school in 1941 and then entered the military, deploying to Patton’s Third Army in WWII. Upon his return, he continued his education at the University of North Dakota, eventually graduating from the UND School of Law in 1951.
As part of the Minnesota Board of Higher Education in the 1970s, Tweten led a crusade to build a vocational institute in East Grand Forks to help fill a critical void in the region. Never wavering in his mission, Tweten and his proponents overstepped many obstacles and finally prevailed. In 1971 East Grand Forks was designated the 33rd vocational site in Minnesota, and the Area Vocational and Technical Institute (AVTI) was established with classes being held in rented space.
“Henry was a strong advocate for higher education and was instrumental in the establishment of Northland in East Grand Forks. He lobbied the legislature to name this community as a site for a vocational school,” shares Northland Interim President Shannon Jesme, “ Always advocating on Northland’s behalf, he was part of the collaboration that brought Northland’s logo to the East Grand Forks water tower this past summer. He was a true friend of Northland and will be missed.”
Tweten’s involvement was paramount in securing the tract of land where Northland’s EGF campus now sits. The first classes were held on the current site in 1973, and the facility has seen several expansions and renovations over its nearly 50-year history. In addition, the college’s name had changed numerous times, ultimately becoming Northland Community & Technical College when it merged with the Thief River Falls campus in 2003. Tweten once cited the formation of the college as one of his finest accomplishments.
Reflecting on his time at Northland and his relationship with Tweten, retired Northland President Dennis Bona eulogized, “When you consider the totality of Henry’s 97 years and the major impact he had on our region, especially Northland, you begin to appreciate that we were all just small chapters in his amazing life,” Bona continued, “I’m personally a better person for having known Henry and can speak on behalf of all the employees and the thousands of students whose lives were impacted by Northland, we are forever grateful for the critical role Henry played in establishing our beloved college.”