MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

September 21, 2019 

Inauguration is meaningful and enjoyable

Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 marked a new chapter in Mayville State’s history. It is the date that I was inaugurated as the 17th president of Mayville State University. It was a very special day for Mayville State University and for me personally. Many people worked very hard to ensure that the day would be extra-special, and for that I am grateful.

The festivities began with a luncheon in the Campus Center Luckasen Room. Portland native and Mayville State graduate Rikka (Fugleberg) Brandon served as the keynote speaker and delighted the crowd with her wit and humor. She underscored the important role that Mayville State University plays in the state and for people locally and across the country.

Mayville State emeritus Vice President for Business Affairs and current Mayville mayor Steve Bensen served as master of ceremonies. Reagan McGillis, daughter of Corey and Tracy McGillis of Mayville, favored those in attendance by playing the harp. MSU President emeritus Gary Hagen and his wife, Debbie, served as the host couple.

Immediately following lunch, delegates from other institutions and our own faculty and select staff gathered to prepare for the inauguration ceremony procession. Pomp and circumstance is a big part of an inauguration and the people who march in their academic regalia are at the forefront.

At the appointed time, chief inauguration marshal Michael Moen, MSU Student Senate president, marked the official start of the ceremony by placing the university mace in its holder on the stage in the Lewy Lee Fieldhouse. The May-Port CG Color guard presented the colors, and the academic procession and the platform party followed.

The stage was beautifully decorated and the room was filled with students, Mayville State employees, alumni, friends, and community members. It was heartwarming to see the members of Mayville State athletic teams in their team gear and seated with their teammates.

Inauguration presiding officer, MSU associate professor of mathematics Fred Strand, got the program started and kept things moving along throughout. Mayville State student Caylee Dodson from Houston, Texas, sang the national anthem. Platform party guests who brought greetings included Representative Richard Holman, Dr. Casey Ryan, Tami Such, Alissa Perkins, Kaitlyn Kuntz, Cindy Petersen, Ernie Strube and Ben Hershey, each representing a different Mayville State constituency.

The inauguration honor choir sang two songs, giving a show-stopping performance. As a way to underscore the importance of Mayville State’s partnerships with area K-12 schools, choir students from area schools were invited to join our Mayville State choir for the occasion. Students from schools at Walhalla, Pembina, Park River, Northwood, Hatton, Hillsboro, and May-Port-CG participated. The mass choir numbers totaled 86. Wow! I couldn’t have been more Comet proud! The group had practiced once the day before and once on the day of the inauguration and pulled their performance off beautifully. Congratulations, to MSU Director of Music Dr. Cody Hunter and his assistant, Greta Paschke, as well as the music directors of the high school students involved!

Dr. Casey Ryan, vice chair of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, and Dr. Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University system did the official honors of installing me and presenting me with the charge as the president of Mayville State University. I was proud to have them here and to have them witness the special bond we have at Mayville State.

My inauguration theme, “Transformation for Progress: Growing Our Region, State, and University” provided the basis for my inauguration address. I am very proud of the rich heritage of Mayville State and look forward to working together with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, community, and others to lead a transformation that will help to grow our region, state, and university.

The finale for the day was a fabulous reception prepared and served by the members of the local Sons of Norway organization. They baked delicious Norwegian sweets and served them in a lovely setting that included traditional Scandinavian dress and a backdrop of quilts made by local quilters.

Everything about Sept. 13 was meaningful and enjoyable. I extend my most sincere “thank you” to all who played a part in this memorable occasion. I was happy to have my father and children join me for this special event. In summing it up, Dad said, “I now understand why you relocated to North Dakota. The people are so nice and kind in this area!” For that I am very Comet Proud!