Cover Story

Cover Story

"When I come through the doors at Normandale, everyone is moving."
Larry Jodsaas

Larry Jodsaas turned a humble start into a spectacularly successful career. He’s been working to help Normandale students do the same for more than 15 years.

Larry Jodsaas has certainly made his mark on Normandale. He has served on the Normandale Foundation’s Board of Directors since 1999.

He donated a major gift that named the Jodsaas Science Center, received the Normandale Community Connections Award in 2007, and continues to do outstanding work in the Bloomington community.

It might come as a surprise, then, to learn that Jodsaas did not attend Normandale.

How did he get involved with the college?

Young Sailor Jodsaas

It started during a conversation with then-president Tom Horak. Horak, who helped honor Jodsaas at the recent Celebration Gala, initially approached Jodsaas with a simple question: “What could we do at Normandale that could be helpful for your business?” Jodsaas found the gesture so refreshing and unique he practically signed on as a volunteer on the spot. Their first project together was the development of the college’s Vacuum Technology Lab.

Moving ahead

A native of Lisbon, N.D., Jodsaas quit school at age 15 to work full time to support his family. He joined the U.S. Navy at age 19, serving as an electronics technician on submarines. At the same time, he earned his GED through the U.S. Air Force Institute. Four years later, he attended community college at Wahpeton State College of Science (now renamed the North Dakota State College of Science). He graduated in 1962 with an electrical engineering degree.

Jodsaas worked for Control Data for 28 years, ascending to top management before purchasing the company’s semiconductor division, VTC Inc. In 2000, Jodsaas sold VTC to Lucent Technology but retained the manufacturing portion of the business. He then founded PolarFab (now called Polar Semiconductor), a foundry that supplies design processes to independent design companies, before retiring in 2005.

Jodsaas attributes his career success to his start at the community college level. Every time he visits Normandale, he sees a hub of activity, a place where students are learning and accomplishing their goals.

“When I come through the doors at Normandale, everyone is moving,” he notes. “Moving to gain more knowledge, moving toward a better life, moving toward a better future. Education will do that for them.”

Jodsaas and Friends

Normandale President Joe Opatz is extremely grateful for Jodsaas’ involvement with the college.

“Larry (Jodsaas) has been a great partner to Normandale Community College for many years,” says Opatz. “He has consistently dedicated his time, resources and energy to ensuring quality experiences for Normandale students. Larry has also played a big role in introducing the college to new community partners. We are extremely thankful for his many contributions to Normandale.”