MSU President's Newspaper Column

July 6, 2024

Service to others, a truly noble virtue

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. 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.”

We owe a debt of gratitude to our forefathers who valued and fought for the freedoms we all enjoy. Though they knew the importance of what they were doing at the time, one can only imagine how happy 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.

Over the years, many men and women have fought, and others continue to fight, to protect the freedoms and rights of their fellow Americans. Mayville State’s Military Garden is a fine representation of those who have given of themselves so that others may live better lives. Military personnel defend the freedom of Americans at home and abroad, while their families make daily sacrifices in support of their loved ones. This may mean missing them in their absence in the short- or long-term, or even missing them in the ultimate sacrifice, loss of life.

The commitment of our military men and women and their families is a wonderful display of service to others. These extraordinary people have dedicated their lives to making a difference, and especially to assuring that all Americans are free and have equal opportunity. We are grateful.

Mayville State is blessed by many students, faculty, staff, and community members who also live their lives in service to others, personifying Mayville State’s motto as “The School of Personal Service.”

One particular community member is on my mind this week, as we have bid him farewell and wished him the very best as he begins a new chapter of his life, retirement. That special person is Pastor Leon Philpot. He has been serving the Portland Lutheran Parish for the last several years. Pastor Philpot’s reach extended well beyond his church congregations and into the community, including Mayville State.

The personal service Pastor Philpot extended to the people of the community and those around us was truly appreciated and valued. Though he had no obligation to support the Mayville State community, he never failed to support our students, faculty and staff.

From time to time, students and prospective students have asked me about someone they could talk with or who could assist them with spiritual guidance. Pastor Philpot always came to mind. His genuine and kind spirit is comforting and helps to renew the soul.  

In addition to his ministry, Leon served the Mayville-Portland community as an emergency medical technician, providing invaluable service to those with immediate medical needs. One can only imagine how his kind and gentle way added an element of comfort to those in emergency situations.

Pastor Leon Philpot has made our community, and the world, a better place, and we know this will not end as he enters his retirement years. His kindness, wisdom, and compassion for others have been an expression of hope for us, and we can rest assured knowing that even though we may not be the direct recipients of this wonderful gift going forward, others surely will be, and Leon’s legacy of kindness will continue. Godspeed, Pastor Philpot! We’ll most certainly miss you.