MSU President's Newspaper Column

July 8, 2023

Independence Day, a time to reflect on the privileges that are ours

Each year on July 4, people across America celebrate Independence Day, the day that marks the decision of our forefathers to declare independence from Great Britain, thus paving the way for Americans to enjoy their lives in pursuit of happiness and prosperity. On America’s birthday, many celebrate by gathering with family and friends, eating great meals, watching parades, and enjoying beautiful fireworks, all activities befitting a birthday party. Celebrating the birth of America is a big deal, as it should be!

In the Declaration of Independence of 1776, Congress defined the unalienable rights, stating, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The opportunity to better oneself through education is no doubt one of the benefits for which our forefathers fought. This ideal continued to be important as our country was born, established, and grew. The establishment of a normal school, a school for the training of teachers, in Mayville was provided for in the constitution when North Dakota became a state in 1889.

In his book, “The School of Personal Service, A History of Mayville State College” the late Dr. James Neilson stated, “The establishment of a college in Mayville marked the end of a dream and the beginning of a grand adventure. The vision of the advantages inherent in higher education had long abided in the thoughts and yearnings of the pioneers who settled eastern North Dakota. Far from being untutored sodbusters, many had tasted enough education to feel its allure, and more understood, how imperfectly, that their children could rise in life beyond the station of their parents through the power of knowledge.”

Since Mayville State’s establishment in 1889, the institution has grown and evolved immensely. Educating teachers is still at our core, but we now offer opportunities in business, nursing, health, and so much more. We are changing and adapting to accommodate the needs of individuals. We are assisting citizens who are in pursuit of happiness and prosperity while attending to the needs of our state and society, providing the best possible experience for students.

In doing so, Mayville State University is not only providing educational opportunities, it is also providing economic benefits which enhance local and state economies, making a positive impact for all. According to a January 2023 report by North Dakota State University’s Center for Social Science and the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, Mayville State’s combined General and Non-general Funds in fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021 were $25.7 million and $27.1 million, respectively.

The report summary says that the North Dakota University System colleges and universities receive revenues from state appropriated funds, state grants, federal grants, and from private grants, contracts, and donations. These revenues support expenditures for wages and salaries, operating expenditures, scholarships, and capital improvements. University expenditures and student spending support economic activity that enhances local and state economies. North Dakota’s universities and colleges and their students have positive effects on the state economy and local economies.

  • Mayville State University operations and student expenditures (direct effects) in FY2021 were $34.8 million. Total economic contribution of university operations and student expenditures (direct plus secondary) was $62.4 million.
  • Of the total economic effects (direct plus secondary) 51% of total economic effects were attributable to Non-general Funds.
  • Direct employment at Mayville State University was 356 jobs in FY2021. Business activity from Mayville State expenditures and spending by students supported secondary employment of 181 jobs. Total direct and secondary employment was 537 jobs in FY2021.

Some aspects of Mayville State’s economic impact are obvious in the students, faculty, and staff who live in the community, but one must also consider the economic impact of commuters and countless others who are in the community because of university activities, including camps, the Shrine Bowl, athletic events, and other activities such as homecoming, Farmers Bowl, and more. These people are buying fuel for their vehicles, meals, and more while in town. Perhaps they stop in the local stores to make purchases of other goods. Further, our students, serving in many capacities, are a major factor in workforce for our county and well beyond.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our forefathers who valued and fought for the freedoms we all enjoy, including education. Though they knew the importance of what they were doing at the time, one can only imagine how gratified they would be to know how those who follow in their footsteps are prospering because of their thoughtfulness and drive to make lives better. We have been entrusted with an unimaginable gift. It is our responsibility to handle it with the utmost respect, ensuring that those who follow us will continue to benefit.