Sometimes it takes a series of steps to reach a goal. In the quest to reach a goal, a step may be blocked, so another step or direction is taken. Such was the case during the process of rehabilitating historic Northwest Hall at Mayville State University. To get to the ultimate goal of the new Larson Alumni and Leadership Center, directions changed many times, but the goal was finally reached with help from alumni, friends, and community members who “stepped up” to help, some of them through the “Step Up” project.

The steps, railings, and landings inside the building were in bad shape after years of use and neglect. The cost to repair, replace, clean, sand, and stain the 35 steps and six landings was high, but through the “Step Up” project, the goal of restoring these items to their 1911 look was completed.

Four giving levels were established in the project. Friends and loved ones could be honored with a gift of $1,000 that was used to restore the step. In some cases, smaller gifts were pooled to meet the restoration amount. The touch screen now located on the first floor of the alumni and leadership center lists those who contributed not only to the “Step Up” project, but to the entire rehabilitation of the building.

Those who sponsored a step were Gudrun Harstad; the Wayne Nelson family; Larry and Jane Senger; the Sons of Norway Chorus Mjosen Lodge 78; Jim Olsen, in honor of longtime Mayville State faculty member Henry Ragaz and his wife, Frankie; Grafton alumni; Dick Whelan, in honor of his wife, Cleone; Mayville High School Class of 1952; and the Olson families of Pembina County and Hoople, in memory of Echo and Ben Bjertness and in honor of June Alman.

Gundrun Harstad of Mayville was happy to participate in the “Step Up” project. Gudrun reminisced, “I was dietician at Mayville State College from 1953 to 1959 and was in charge of the boarding department located in the basement of West Hall. I made all the menus, planned the schedules for shift workers, and worked seven days a week. It was exciting when we got a conveyor belt so students could place soiled dishes on it and then they were transported to the dishwashing room. I had just gotten home from Norway when I saw I had this opportunity to take part in this project, so I also wish to honor my Norwegian heritage with this step.”

Cavalier teachers sponsored one step with gifts from Kevin O’Leary, Sandy Laxdal, Jeff and Michelle Urlaub, Matt Ford, Diane Benneweis, Barb Mahar, Wayne Levang, Wallace Ebertowski, Shelly Erlendson, Daryl Watson, Carol Beard, Judy Hildebrant, Cleone Whelan, Anna Mae Daley, Kaye Furstenau, Amy Nordstrom, Doug Anderson, Mandy Heuchert, John and JoDee Dungan, Joanne Dietrich, Brandon Laxdal, Cheryl Neumann, and Frank Schill. Some honored loved ones who taught or teach at Cavalier Public School, including Ellen Erlendson, Ruby Olafson, Margaret Sturlaugson, Marilyn Watson, Merle Quam, Donald Mahar, Anne Puppe, Bernard Carlson, Vonda Anderson, Ellie Berg, Valerie Brown, Bessie Fuller Thomson, Jim Hardy, Jim Bauley, Chuck and Ward Lewis, Donna Evenson, and Roberta Grumbo.

The last groups that sponsored one step each were historic preservation groups: Preservation North Dakota, Traill County Historical Society, State Historical Society of North Dakota, and the National Trust of Historic Preservation Denver region.

The second level of gifts shared the sponsoring of a step. Those who gave at this level were Park River alumni, including Fabian Shoults, Elsie Shoults, Monica Tufte Simon, Janice Clemenson, Kelly Houser, William Galloway, Donna Galloway, Joanne Peterson, Cheri Lothspeich, Lorraine Hylden, C. Jean Field, Charlotte Myrdal, Larry Omdahl, Teresa Nielsen, Amanda Goll, Rob Scherr, Lori Gaarder, Kay Alkofer, Brian Weisz, Allen Dahl, and Katie Thompson. Loved ones of June and John Baker honored them with a gift at this level. The Hatton Education Association also sponsored at this level, with help from Crop Production Services and Silver Dollar Tours. Individuals who contributed are Beth Delano, Joy Vaagene, Fred Strand, Rudy Brereton, and Betty Reinhardt.

In the third level of the “Step Up” project, five parties were grouped to sponsor a step. Those contributing at this level were Myron Anderson, Greg and Ruth Hall, Clinton and Sandra Lein, Hatton Education Association, and Kadrmas, Lee, and Jackson Engineering Firm of Fargo. Two alumni groups from Neche-Pembina and Walhalla wanted to be acknowledged with a step, as well. From Neche-Pembina Kathy Halley, Nancy Defoe, Charlene Snustad, Syliva Kalliokoski, Charlotte Hardy, Jeff Carpenter, Joe Defoe, Laura Norby, and Maragaux Lindsay made contributions. Representing Walhalla were Ila LaChapelle, James Benjaminson, Eunice Bjornstad, Margie Johnson, Bernadine Kopf, Emma Berg, Teresa Bjornstad, Joyce and Gene Solberg, Sandra Gendreau Johnson, and Shonna Soeby.

Other sponsors in the “Step Up” project were John and JoDee Dungan; Lucia Jacobson; Chuck Dunlop; Fabian Shoults; Michael Johnson; Dwight Byron; Shari Thompson; Mark Thompson; Valley-Edinburg faculty, including Andrea Douville, Cleone Whelan, Mary Ellen Kirking, Shelli Schuster, Faye Ramsey, and Delores Robinson; Citizens Community Credit Union of Lakota; the Mayville High School Class of 1961; Dennis and Rita Jungels; and Brittany Johnson.

“Over the years, so many dedicated alumni and friends of Mayville State University have stepped up when called upon. People have generously supported the Larson Alumni and Leadership Center, attended fundraising events, given gifts for scholarships and special projects, and attended athletic and other events on campus, and we are truly grateful,” said Doug Anderson, alumni volunteer who coordinated the “Step Up” project. “We invite all of our Mayville State alumni and friends to join us during the upcoming homecoming festivities October 3 through 5, when we will celebrate 125 years of personal service at Mayville State University and all of the great successes that have come about because of great support from near and far.”

Homecoming festivities will include a meet and greet at the Larson Alumni and Leadership Center from 8:30 until 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 4. This will be a great time to stop by and see the beautiful newly renovated alumni center. The full homecoming schedule can be seen at

Steps and landings at the Edson and Margaret Larson Alumni and Leadership Center are still available for sponsorship. If you are interested, please contact John Klocke, Executive Director of the MSU Foundation, at 701-788-4787 or