hoeven_hagen_web.jpgreception-web.jpgbrunch_web.jpgMayville State University had the distinct honor of hosting the honorable John Hoeven, U.S. Senator from North Dakota, during the university’s annual commencement festivities Saturday, May 17. Senator Hoeven delivered the commencement address and was also awarded the Mayville State University Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his support for Mayville State University, especially when he was Governor of North Dakota.

In introducing Senator Hoeven, Mayville State President Dr. Gary Hagen told of the challenges Mayville State faced when he first took over as the university’s president eight years ago. Then-Governor Hoeven contacted President Hagen and offered not only financial, but also human resources to help get Mayville State back on track. Hagen credited this assistance with dramatic change process and the resulting success the university is now experiencing.

Hagen said, “In honor of Senator Hoeven’s vision and assistance, and for his help in re-energizing and redefining our campus, it is my honor and privilege to present to Mayville State University’s friend, and my friend, Mayville State University’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.”

In his address, Senator Hoeven congratulated the graduates on marking this important milestone in their lives. “The skills you have learned here at Mayville State University - both in your studies and also through the rich experiences you have had living and studying in this tightknit, wonderful community - will serve as your passport to your future,” he told the graduates.

Senator Hoeven issued a challenge to the graduates. He said, “We will look to each of you to foster and lead our country forward so that future generations will continue to know this most exceptional nation. Use your education and the values you have learned here at Mayville State to be a force for good, a catalyst for improving our state and nation. Use your talents to empower people and ideas. We need this now more than ever. Make every moment count, work hard to achieve your dreams, and make a positive difference in this world. Rather than witness history, make history, and leave your mark – you can do it.”

Student speakers, who spoke on behalf of the graduating class at the commencement exercises were Elizabeth Cakebread from Shelly, Minn. and Adam Edwards from Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. Pastor Nathan Strong of Portland (N.D.) Lutheran Parish delivered the invocation , and Dr. Kirsten Diederich, president of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, brought greetings on behalf of the Board. Dr. Diederich’s mother, Beverly Bakke, was among those in the audience. Beverly and her husband, Jerry, are both Mayville State alumni.

Commencement day at Mayville State University began with socializing and a wonderful brunch for the graduates and their families in the MSU Campus Center Luckasen Room. The brunch was hosted by the Mayville State University Alumni Association and is a tradition which serves as the first official alumni event for the new graduates each year. The brunch was sponsored by Gate City Bank. The bank’s monetary contribution helped to make it possible for all guests to attend the event free of charge. Speakers at the brunch were graduates Michele Jenson, Moorhead, Minn.; Josh Jefferies, Fairbanks, Alaska; and Nisa Rajput, Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa.

As a grand finale to the day, Mayville State University teamed up with the local Sons of Norway Mjosen Lodge to host a post-commencement reception. In celebration of Mayville State’s 125th anniversary and the Scandinavian roots at the founding of the institution, the reception was also a celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day, or Syttende Mai. The National Day of Norway is an official national holiday observed on May 17 each year, and this year marks the bicentennial of the signing of the constitution. Dressed in their traditional Norwegian costumes, members of the Sons of Norway Lodge served Scandinavian treats. A table featuring Norwegian heritage was on display, and local musicians, the “Hayshakers,” performed traditional music.

Click here to see archived video stream of Mayville State's 2014 commencement exercises.

Captions for Photos

Top: U.S. Senator John Hoeven and Mayville State University President Dr. Gary Hagen.

Middle: People of all ages enjoyed the Scandinavian treats made and served by members of the Sons of Norway Mjosen Lodge of Mayville.

Bottom: Nearly 300 people, including this year's graduates and their families, Alumni Association board members, Mayville State faculty and staff, and staff members of the local Gate City Bank attended the traditional graduation brunch. Pictured are the members of the MSU Class of 2014 and Gate City staff who attended the brunch.