Former NDSU President Jim Ozbun was a supporter of the Institute at a critical time in its history as it diversified from its agricultural roots to a broader focus on freight and personal mobility. While some inside and outside NDSU argued for a more limited focus for the Institute, Ozbun supported efforts by Institute staff to explore new opportunities to enhance the mobility of freight and people in the Upper Great Plains.
Ozbun served as president from 1988 to 1995. He is a native of Carson, ND, and a graduate of Flasher High School. He graduated from NDAC with a bachelor's degree in soil science and earned his master's in soil science, also from NDSU. He earned his doctorate from NC State in plant pathology. Prior to returning to NDSU, Ozbun was the dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at Washington State University. He also held positions at Kansas State, University of Minnesota and Cornell University.
During Ozbun's tenure at NDSU, his accomplishments were numerous and included: assisting with gaining approval for the FargoDome, supporting and encouraging development of the NDSU Staff Senate, creation of the NDSU Biotechnology Institute and the NDSU Institute for Business and Industry Development (IBID), leading the effort for building the Industrial Agricultural and Computer Center (IACC), now home to the UGPTI. He advocated cooperative programs with the North Dakota State College of Science and Valley City State University and encouraged NDSU's Development Foundation to organize their $20 million fund drive.
Ozbun and his wife, Sonja, are retired and living in the Dickinson area where they ranch and raise registered Hereford cattle and registered quarter horses. He has been active with Boy Scouts and Rotary International in his retirement.