Successful Alumni

Blugold history graduate retires after 46-year university teaching career


Ken smemoKen Smemo will end a 46-year career at Minnesota State University Moorhead as one of the longest serving professors in the university's history.

A specialist in U.S. Constitutional and Scandinavian history, Smemo came to MSUM in 1961 as a supervisor of social studies teachers at the Campus School. He then spent a year as director of the school before joining the university's history faculty.

During his tenure, Smemo estimates he's taught nearly 7,000 students. He also chaired the history department three times, created and directed for 10 years the university's Northwest Minnesota Historical Center, created and directed the Scandinavian studies program for 20 years, and served two years as a graduate dean.

Smemo grew up in Eau Claire, Wis., the son of Norwegian immigrants. He served two years in Korea as a member of the U.S. Army, graduated in 1957 from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire under the G.I. Bill, then started his teaching career at a high school in Osseo, Wis. Later he earned his master's degree and doctorate at the University of Minnesota.

History, he said, has taught him to be positive: "The future is always filled with hope when you know how the past evolved and how good things have often resulted from terrible challenges. The human spirit perseveres."

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