MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

January 11, 2020 

Looking to the future with optimism and confidence

Last week we learned that our head football coach, Jeff Larson, has accepted the position of defensive coordinator at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D. Northern State is his alma mater. He played football for the Wolves. Coach Larson is a native of Aberdeen, and that is where his parents and family members still live. The opportunity to live near family and work at his alma mater was something that he couldn’t pass up.

While we are sorry to see Coach Larson leave Mayville State, we are happy for him and his family. We know what a gift it is to be able to live close to extended family, and that is something the Larsons have not been able to do for 20 years. We are grateful to Coach Larson for the great work he has done to keep our football program moving forward and we wish him all the best. We have a stronger program today than when Coach Larson and his team arrived, and we’re thankful for that. 

Micah Smith, Comets offensive coordinator, has been named the interim head coach for Mayville State. He and the other assistant coaches continue with their player recruitment efforts and will be meeting with the current football players just as soon as they return from the semester break next week.

A national search for a new head coach has been launched. A search committee, led by Athletic Director Ryan Hall, will drive an aggressive search process, with the goal of naming a new head coach by the end of January. This is a lofty goal, but we are up to the challenge and realize that time is of the essence. The Mayville State administration is committed to keeping the football program a priority, with the goal of having a winning program. We will continue to put forth our best efforts to recruit local and regional talent with good character.

Change in personnel is among many changes that impact the life of an organization. While change is not easy, we know that it is inevitable. We need to be constantly looking at the needs of our students and stakeholders, exploring new ways of delivering the best personal service possible, and new programs and services that might attract new markets. We need to challenge our employees to question why things are done a certain way and look for new ways of being more efficient, with higher levels of quality and service. I’m proud to say our faculty and staff are transforming in many ways to help meet the changing needs of higher education.

Growing degree programs is a top priority in the plans to transform Mayville State University. Several of our proposed degree programs were approved by the State Board of Higher Education during the 2018-2019 academic year. They are the Associate of Arts (liberal arts transfer); undergraduate certificates in online digital teaching, biotechnology, and college studies; a Bachelor of Science degree in sport coaching; the Master of Science degree in nursing; and graduate certificates in nurse educator and nursing leadership.

We’re very excited about these new opportunities for students, and our faculty and staff are working diligently, getting the programs underway and available in as timely a manner as possible. Four of the new degree programs made their debut and were offered in the fall semester of 2019. They are the Associate of Arts (liberal arts transfer), undergraduate certificates in online digital teaching and biotechnology, and the Bachelor of Science degree in sport coaching.

Representatives of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the accrediting agency with which Mayville State is associated, were on campus this week to review the new Master of Science in Nursing program, as well as the graduate certificates in nurse educator and nursing leadership. The HLC, an independent corporation, is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes 19 states. We look forward to hearing the results of the accreditation visit soon and hope to get coursework underway immediately.

Through our Comet Stars program, we are exploring ways in which our faculty and staff can be more active in outreach. Having the opportunity to visit with the faculty and employees with whom they would be associated as Mayville State students can weigh-in largely as prospective students are choosing their college home. This program has the potential to have a big impact for Mayville State over the years and will hopefully build stronger relationships with our K-12 and college partners.

So while change is indeed difficult, it makes us stronger. We look to the future with confidence and optimism for the opportunities we’ll have to make a difference not only in the lives of individuals, but also for our state and region and beyond. I’m Comet Proud of what we stand for and how we conduct our work at Mayville State.