UMD star athlete supports generations of students

UMD Hall of Famer, Harry Oden, pays it forward to the next generation. 

On Labor Day in 1953, Harry Oden’s father confronted him about his performance in school. At the time, Oden was getting suspended and posting poor grades. His father asked him to apply himself in the classroom, and to take his academics as far as he could. Oden said he would.

That was the last agreement he made with his father before he was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. It’s what Oden refers to as “the promise,” and his motivation to pursue higher education.

Oden earned an undergraduate degree in education from UMD in 1964 and a master’s in history and education administration in 1980, before beginning a lifelong career with Milwaukee public schools.

He was the first Black basketball player to be recruited in the U of M System. When he was just a junior, Oden would drive students from Milwaukee to Duluth to visit UMD, some to play basketball, and others to simply pursue an education.

In 1993, a scholarship was created in his name: The UMD Harry Oden Scholarship has since helped hundreds of students realize their college dreams.