MSU President's newspaper column

December 23, 2023 

It’s a wonderful life

The holiday season is a time for reflection. It is a time when we should all pause and think about what is important in our lives. At Mayville State there is so much for which we are grateful.

The steadfast support of our community members, alumni, friends, the North Dakota University System, our chancellor, the State Board of Higher Education, and North Dakota legislators is fantastic. We are extremely blessed to be surrounded by people, near and far, who have the best interests of Mayville State in mind. They know the important role Mayville State University plays in making lives better and they are kind in their words and deeds, supporting the legacy of personal service.

We are especially grateful for the funding to support the renovation of Mayville State’s Old Main. The $52+ million project will be life-changing for the university. Preliminary work is underway and we look forward with great anticipation to occupying the new and improved state of the art facility in the fall of 2026.

All around me, I see acts of kindness and people helping one another. These things can be as simple as greeting one another in the hallways and along the sidewalks or holding the door for someone. The work of our anonymous note-writer continues to make a difference. Random messages of encouragement around campus continues to brighten days.

The Mayville State Family experienced a devastating loss with the passing of Director of Student Success and Disability Services Katie Richards. Katie personified Mayville State’s commitment to serving others and played an integral role in the lives of so many, including Mayville State students and her fellow Mayville State employees. Katie’s brand of tough love was integral to the success of many students, and we all miss her dearly. It’s been heartwarming to see how people have supported one another through this tragedy. Life will never be the same without Katie, but we are all better for having witnessed the good she did in this world.

Nearly 40 paraprofessionals working in North Dakota schools will be pursuing bachelor’s degrees at Mayville State this spring. With tuition assistance provided by the state of North Dakota, they will become teachers. The MSU Foundation is taking that assistance one step further by providing scholarship assistance through the generosity of the Gransberg family to cover the cost of fees for these students.

Just a few weeks ago, our women’s basketball team and student athletes came together and rallied Comets fans in support of six-year-old Miles Passa, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer. Miles is the brother of Mayville State student athletes Emma and Olivia Passa.

The campus has recently been involved in a campaign to donate toys for area children in need, and the community angel tree project has been very well supported by members of the Mayville State family this holiday season.

These experiences make me think about think about the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, which tells the story disappointed businessman George Bailey who felt like a failure until he is visited by an angel who shows him what life would have been like if he’d never been born. The angel shows how George has made his mark, just as each of us leaves our mark in the world.

The story demonstrates that we should never underestimate the importance of integrity and good character. It shows that we are making a difference for others, often times without even knowing it. It underscores the importance of doing the right thing and always being positive.

I liken the story of It’s a Wonderful Life to the good work that happens at Mayville State University. Our commitment to personal service and making a difference in the lives of others is a gift to the recipient as well as to the giver. By lifting others up, we lift ourselves. I see this every day in the interactions of our students, faculty, and staff. We are blessed to be a part of an extra-special family, the Mayville State family. When our graduates leave Mayville State University to begin their careers, they are going into the world equipped with unique experiences that will help them to make a positive difference in their jobs and their communities. The positive ripple effect is making the world around us a better place.

As we turn the calendar page to 2024, we are filled with optimism for a bright future and gratitude for the many members of the Mayville State University family who help to make Mayville State the extraordinary place that it is, a place where one can find the best in people and the best in human nature.

Thank you, friends and neighbors, for your support. We wish you all good things in 2024. Stay safe and be well.