MSU President's Newspaper Column

January 30, 2021 

Help from our friends has a profound impact

You may be familiar with the old song lyric, “I get by with a little help from my friends” made famous by The Beatles back in the 1960s. The song continues to be popular, probably because the sentiment rings true for so many. Good friends can have a profound impact in our lives.

We can relate to this as individuals, and there is no doubt that Mayville State University continues to flourish and prosper because of the support we receive from our friends. The generosity and loyalty of our alumni and friends is unmatched. We are truly blessed.

Support comes in many forms. Alumni who have had good experiences at Mayville State share their thankfulness by letting others know how they have benefitted. Perhaps they recommend that their family members and friends pursue their goals for higher education at Mayville State. Individuals may share with stakeholders and decision-makers the important role Mayville State plays. Some choose to pay forward their gratitude for Mayville State by providing financial support that helps others to earn a Mayville State education. Whatever the mode and whatever the gift, all of these elements combine to strengthen Mayville State.

It is interesting to take note of the many families who have established a legacy as students and alumni at Mayville State. Great Grandma and Grandpa were fortunate enough to go to college and make better lives for themselves and their families because of it. They encourage their children to follow the same path, and the cycle continues generation after generation. The university continues to change and evolve, but the foundation as “The School of Personal Service” never wanes and gratitude for Mayville State continues to grow.

The alumni rolls contain many families who are responsible for keeping the Mayville State University circle of life in motion. Family members know the Mayville State experience first-hand and are eager to make sure that others may enjoy the benefits that have made their lives better.

One such group is the Larry and Dixie (Hoime) McGillis family. Larry and Dixie and two of their three children, Corey McGillis and Shelley Kotaska, are Mayville State University graduates. Daughter Tiffany Sipma chose a career in the medical field. Larry and Dixie grew up in small town North Dakota, in the Edmore area, and came to Mayville State as freshmen in the 1960s. They earned their degrees and chose to settle in the Mayville-Portland community, where they have made an impact.

It's important to Larry and Dixie that their community thrives, and through volunteerism and financial support, they have helped to make Mayville-Portland a wonderful place in which to live, work, and raise a family.

They are quick to recognize the vital role Mayville State University plays in our community and are attentive and constant supporters of the work of the university. Their support is wide-reaching, and by involving their business and encouraging their children to get involved, they have made a lifetime financial impact at Mayville State of about three-quarters of a million dollars.

Larry saw the importance of making improvements in the Comets football program several years ago and was a huge advocate for the turf project, as well as a charter member of the White Hat Club. We know his support and that of so many others is making a huge difference at Mayville State as the football program is making great strides. The success of this program is causing a ripple of positive effects campus-wide.

The support of the McGillis family does not stop there. They have made significant contributions to academic scholarships and the music department, as well as the Military Honor Garden, located on the south lawn of the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center.

Larry and Dixie McGillis and their family are pillars in our community and at Mayville State University, and I have the utmost respect for these extraordinary people. These are friends who continue to have a profound impact and we could not be more appreciative for their foresight, loyalty, and generosity. Without the ongoing financial generosity their family has shown, Mayville State would not have had the opportunity to begin many initiatives that are making us attractive to prospective students. Their contributions to our Foundation support continued growth through scholarships, endowments, and annual fund opportunities, and their actions are helping Mayville State grow and remain viable.

Mayville State University is incredibly blessed to have friends who include the McGillis family and so many others who are making a substantial difference for the university and its students. Each and every one of these individuals and families is extremely important to Mayville State’s success. From time to time, I will feature an outstanding alumni family in this column to show my gratitude for these wonderful members of the Mayville State family.