MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

June 15, 2013

The Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center, linking the past, present, and future


Mayville State alumni and friends will gather for an ice cream social on the lawn at Agassiz Hall Friday, June 21, during MSU’s third annual Alumni Day festivities. From 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., guests will have an opportunity to enjoy music and refreshments. Everyone is welcome to join in the festivities!

In other years, there has been an ice cream social on the lawn at Northwest Hall on Alumni Day, but this year will be a little different, and for a very exciting reason - the lawn at Northwest Hall, now officially known as The Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center, is covered with construction equipment, supplies, and workers. Renovation of the historic building is set for completion by late this fall, hopefully by November or December. This is a long-awaited dream for many.

Northwest Hall was built in 1911 as an infirmary for sick students. Over the years, it has served as dormitory space, the Mayville State president’s home, and housing for married students. The building was vacant for a number of years, but has been the site of activity in one form of renovation or another since 2001, when interested alumni realized the need for an alumni center at Mayville State and forged ahead with rehabilitation plans.

Construction work on the project began in 2003, and has continued project by project, as funding has allowed. The entire rehabilitation project is being funded privately. A recent gift of $340,000 from the Edson and Margaret Larson Foundation has paved the way for the completion of the project and the opportunity to move forward at a quick pace, with a total of more than $900,000 raised. Fundraising for furnishings, landscaping, and future exterior tuckpointing is ongoing.

Prior to the Larson Foundation gift, grants were received from the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Preservation North Dakota, Burlington Northern Foundation, Midcontinent Communications, the Traill County Historical Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Much of the money received for restoration has come from individuals, Mayville State alumni, and Mayville State friends in the Mayville-Portland community and across the country.

One of the goals of the project has been to make the building a place that will be representative of not only Mayville State University, but Mayville, Portland, and all of the surrounding area. Through their gifts, families and individuals have honored their loved ones and have their names incorporated into places and spaces in and around the facility.

The major thrust in construction at the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center began in April. The general contractor on the project is Diversified Contractors of Grand Forks. Air Mechanical has the mechanical contract and Red River Electric is the electrical contractor. A decorating committee of Doug Anderson, Shireen Grinager, Mary Iverson, Sheryl Vinje, Michelle McLean, and John Klocke met in February and March to choose overall color schemes and floor coverings where needed.

At this point, most of the interior demolition is complete. A completely new basement floor and drain tile have been installed to help preserve the building and protect it from moisture. In the next few weeks, an elevator will be installed, so the building will be accessible to all.

Very soon, the construction-related activity at our much-anticipated alumni and leadership center will be replaced by the bustling of students gathering to meet and study, the excitement of symposiums hosted by the Larson Leadership Program, the business conducted at MSU Foundation Board meetings, the daily activities of the MSU Foundation and alumni offices, and so much more! We are delighted by the possibilities that await at the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center.

We are grateful to Mayville State University graduate and alumni association board member Doug Anderson for his tireless volunteer efforts in coordinating the total project. His dedication is second to none. Thank you to the Mayville Campus Preservation Society, including alumni board members Kelly Morrison and Cleone Whelan, who have assisted Doug, and to John Klocke and the MSU Foundation staff who have joined Doug in this effort. I must also recognize the many people who have given of their financial and other resources to this project. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We look forward to publicly honoring your loved ones in this special building that will house art and historical collections, be a center of activity for young and old, and provide a place for Mayville State University alumni to call “home.”

Please stop by the lawn at Agassiz Hall between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. June 21. Enjoy refreshments and entertainment, and celebrate the progress made at the alumni and leadership center across the street. Take a moment to reflect on how far the project has come and all the good things to come when the center opens next fall. There are still opportunities to get involved at the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center. For more information, contact John J. Klocke at 701-788-4787 or