MSU President’s Column for Traill County Tribune

Dr. Brian Van Horn

March 2, 2019

So many reasons to be Comet Proud!

I’ve just returned from the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) conference men’s and women’s basketball Final Four tournament in Watertown, S.D. and couldn’t be more COMET PROUD. Our women’s and men’s teams played well, both notching wins in the first two rounds of the tournament. The women fell short in their championship game and took second place. The men defeated Bellevue and became the NSAA champions. Not only did our teams do well, several individuals earned special awards. Congratulations to all involved!

This win gave the men an automatic berth in the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship which will be played in Sioux Falls, S.D. March 6-12. As I write, preparations are being made for all the fanfare that goes along with a team participating in a national tournament. We are super-excited and plan to have a fan bus so students and community members can attend the opening round game. Cost for community members to ride the bus is $20. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re interested, contact Leah Larson at 701-788-4834 or

Attending the tournament games and being a part of the festivities in Watertown last weekend was a wonderful experience. As thrilled as I am that the men will advance to the national tournament, I am equally pleased with how our players, coaches, and fans conducted themselves throughout the experience.

Our teams stayed at the Ramkota Inn in Watertown. When I went to the desk to check out Monday morning, the manager let me know that the members of our teams were among the most well-behaved young people she’d ever seen. Similarly, the manager of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant gave Mayville State kudos. Buffalo Wild Wings was the site of a post-game celebration on Sunday evening. Both managers said that we’d be welcome there any time. Talk about Comet Proud!

I extend my appreciation to all of our players, coaches, and fans for what has been a fantastic basketball season. I look forward to the next step in the journey this next week when the men compete in Sioux Falls. I am confident I will have many more Comet Proud moments to add to the growing list.

We are delighted to have a new head football coach on board! Jeff Larson will join us in early March. I commend Athletic Director Ryan Hall and his search committee on their thorough and quick work that led us to hiring Coach Larson early this week. We know that he will hit the ground running and is ready to take on the challenge of bringing Comet Football to the next level.

Just before heading to Watertown last weekend, I returned from Arizona where I attended the annual Traill County/Mayville State luncheon. I had the opportunity to meet and get to know a number of our alumni and friends who live and/or winter in the Phoenix/Mesa area, not only at the luncheon, but during other gatherings and meetings.

We were favored by the wonderful hospitality of Mayville State alumni and Portland, N.D. residents Larry and Dixie McGillis. The McGillises hosted members of the Mayville State Honor Society during a social held in their Arizona home. It was a heart-warming gathering of people who truly love and support Mayville State University.

During the social, MSU Foundation Executive Director John Klocke announced an extra-special gift to Mayville State from Melanie and Harvey Noteboom. Melanie is a Mayville State graduate, and she and her husband have chosen to leave an estate gift to her alma mater. Harvey told those who attended the social of their plans to make MSU the irrevocable beneficiary of a $640,000 annuity to Mayville State upon their deaths. By committing to the gift now, the Notebooms were able to leverage the state of North Dakota Challenge Grant of a 50% match. This allowed an immediate payout of $320,000 in matching funds to Mayville State. With projected growth of the estate asset, when all is said and done, the total gift to Mayville State will be more than $1 million. This will generate interest that will be awarded to Mayville State students in the form of scholarships through the Melanie and Harvey Noteboom Endowment Fund they established four years ago.  Harvey encouraged all to consider leveraging gifts through wills, estate plans, life insurance, and other assets to get the state match when it is available as they did. Harvey mentioned, “We have no children of our own and we have thought for a long time about all of the young people who could be helped by our making this gift.” What a wonderful way for Melanie and Harvey’s legacy to live in perpetuity!

The North Dakota Legislature is now considering the possibility of funding a new round of Challenge Grant funding. If you have an opportunity to encourage your legislators to support such a fund, please do. This funding has had an amazing positive impact for Mayville State University, and we would greatly benefit from this kind of continued support.

The actions of Harvey and Melanie Noteboom and many others who so very generously support Mayville State University are another reason that I am over the top with Comet pride. I tip my hat to the Notebooms and to all Mayville State University supporters. We are grateful beyond words.