President's Column for Traill County Tribune

February 8, 2020 

The generosity of our alumni and friends abounds

I am Comet Proud of the many Mayville State alumni and friends who teamed up to not only meet, but to exceed the Comet Football Scholarship Challenge! A few weeks ago, an anonymous donor issued a challenge to alumni and friends. The donor would match dollar-for-dollar all gifts made to Comet Football Scholarships for 2020, up to a total of $20,000. All of this needed to happen before the Jan. 31, 2020 deadline.

When all was said and done, a total of about $23,000 was raised in the 20-day campaign, so the full $20,000 match was secured. Wow! This means that our newly named head football coach, Rocky Larson, and his staff will have an additional $43,000 to be used to help recruit and retain players for the 2020 season and beyond. This will be a terrific boost for Coach Larson and the Comets.

What’s the first word that comes to my mind? GENEROSITY. Our alumni and friends bleed Comet Blue. They want what is best for Mayville State University, and they support the institution and its programs to the nth degree. These are people who realize what it means to receive a Mayville State education and want to pay it forward so that others may enjoy the same benefits and experiences that they have.

I am grateful to our anonymous donor who had the foresight to know what could be done, and to all who made financial contributions to the challenge. This kind of support is heart-warming and speaks volumes of the kindness of our alumni and friends.

We are excited to have had Rocky Larson join the Mayville State University family as our head football coach. Coach Larson comes to us from University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where he has been the defensive coordinator for the last four seasons.

Football is in the fabric of his immediate family. His dad is a very successful head football coach at the high school level in the state of Wisconsin, as is one of his brothers. Another brother found much success on the football field, playing all the way from high school, through college, and even in the NFL.

Coach Larson came on board with us this week and we were delighted to have his fiancé, Richell, as well as his parents, brother, and sister join us on campus this week for a news conference where we introduced Rocky. The future for Comet Football is bright!

I’ll be in Arizona next week for the annual Traill County/Mayville State reunion luncheon, as well as to visit with a number of alumni and friends. In preparing for the trip, my staff and I have prepared our “Snapshot of MSU” publication, which contains lots of facts and figures highlighting what is happening at Mayville State.

One of the sections shows the successful efforts that continue in the MSU Foundation. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, annual funds raised totaled $611,677, plus another $242,542 of endowed scholarship funding was raised. In addition, our investments grew by $492,757, giving us a total of $1,347,976. This will be recognized as one of the best years ever for our foundation growth in assets.

You may know that the North Dakota Legislature once again made challenge grant funding available to the North Dakota University System institutions in the current biennium. From July 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2020, Mayville State University will have up to $700,000 available for matching. The challenge grant will match donations to endowments and academics at a 50% level. This grant has the potential to make a huge impact in the work of the MSU Foundation during the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The challenge grant program has literally been a part of transforming our university. Since challenge grant funding first began a few years ago, it has helped us to find new donors and existing donors who have increased our endowment funding from $1.9 million to just over $7.5 million.

The executive director position in the MSU Foundation is currently vacant, but the fundraising and extreme generosity of our alumni and friends continues. Just in the last several weeks, gifts of nearly $100,000 have been received in the MSU Foundation and additional significant gifts are in the works. These fundraising efforts, as well as ongoing annual fundraising activities, combined with investment earnings and various sources of funding mean our Foundation assets have increased by about $500,000 from July 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019. It should make us Comet Proud to know that we are on track to make this one of the best years ever for the MSU Foundation.

The generosity of Mayville State’s alumni and friends never ceases to amaze me. I am truly grateful to all who believe in Mayville State University and commit their resources to helping to ensure that the legacy of a Mayville State education can continue for generations to come. Thank you to all who are making a difference for our students and our university.