LINDSBORG, KAN., May 24, 2019 – Bethany College welcomed Dr. Tom Isern, ‘74, on May 8, 2019. Dr. Isern is a Distinguished Professor of History at North Dakota State University. Isern holds both a master and doctorate degree from Oklahoma State University. He is the author of Pacing Dakota, his most recent book of five, that just received an independent publisher book award for U.S. Midwest in the best regional non-fiction category. Isern is passionate about farming, ranching and rural life, and also writes weekly newspaper columns and can be heard on a weekly public radio show. Among many other accomplishments, he studied the agricultural history grasslands in New Zealand as a Fullbright Scholar in 1991 and has occasionally returned to New Zealand to continue this research.

Describing Pacing Dakota in a NDSU article, Dr. Isern said, it is, “first and last, a storytelling book. The stories are good ones, and they span North Dakota – Bowman to Walhalla. The stories add up to something, too; something having to do with community, citizenship and leadership in our time on the prairies. Finally, the book is sort of a memoir. I’ve been doing prairie history for 40 years, so I have become part of the story I am telling.”

At Bethany, Dr. Isern enjoyed coffee with faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, signed and presented all of his books to Wallerstedt Learning Center, was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta (history honor group), and attended a constitutional history class.

“Bethany was honored and proud to host Dr. Isern on campus where it all began when Tom was a student being mentored by the late Jerry Shannon, a distinguished Professor of History at
Bethany College,” said former long-time men’s head Bethany basketball coach, Clair Oleen, ’77, now part of the Bethany Advancement team. Oleen, who knew Dr. Isern as a basketball player
at Ellinwood High School and at Bethany, played an instrumental role in Isern’s visit to campus.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop, and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning, and service. Bethany connects its past, present, and future with distinctive initiatives like Swedes to Sweden, a free service-learning trip for the sophomore class to Sweden, and the Good Life Scholarship, presenting all local high school graduates with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the college. Bethany College is on the Web at and is located in Lindsborg, Kansas, the fine arts and crafts capital of the state.