Dakota Datebook

A.G. Leonard

Thursday, December 16, 2010


On the campus of the University of North Dakota, there is a building that resembles a small science museum. You can find dinosaur tracks around the building, and the exterior is decorated with images of a volcano and an Apatosaurus, more commonly known as the brontosaurus. Inside the building is a 70 million year old skull of a Triceratops excavated from the Hell Creek rock formation north of Marmath in 1964 and restored in 1978 by UND faculty and students.

The building is Leonard Hall—and it’s a fitting tribute to the man it’s named after. Arthur Gray Leonard was born in New York. He attended college in Utah, got his masters from Oberlin and his doctorate of philosophy in 1898 from John Hopkins. He was an assistant professor in Missouri, a geologist with the Iowa Geological Survey for some years, and then he moved to North Dakota in 1903, becoming state geologist and an assistant professor at UND. He expanded the geology program there, published more than fifty articles in various publications, and was even called “The real father of geological education in North Dakota.” He served the university for nearly 30 years.

On this date in 1932, the life of Professor Leonard slowly drained away. In the early hours of the following morning, he succumbed to the ill effects of a heart disease that had kept him at home since September.

His legacy was not forgotten. His namesake Leonard Hall was dedicated in 1965, one hundred years after he was born. Dr. Terence T. Quirke, who received the first master’s degree from the geological department there, wrote a tribute to him, which was read at the dedication of Leonard Hall:

“(Leonard) has an admirable personal reserve which was true dignity. In the classroom, his reserve deterred the timid from knowing him well and his dignity awed the boisterous, but no one who approached him could have received a more kindly or courteous reception from anyone than they received from him. … He stood amongst the foremost scholars and counselors who have built their lives into the University of North Dakota.”

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker




The Bismarck Tribune, Saturday, December 17, 1932, p1

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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