MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

June 6, 2015

Mayville State will recognize distinguished alumni and friends at June 26 dinner


We’re very excited about plans that are being made for Alumni Day, Friday, June 26. With all the good things happening at Mayville State, there is much to celebrate. We hope you’ll join us in the festivities, which are being held in conjunction with Mayville-Portland’s annual Summerfest. The MayPort Community Club members are doing a great job of organizing and coordinating a celebration that can be enjoyed by young and old on June 25, 26, 27, and 28.

A highlight of Mayville State’s plans for Alumni Days will be the annual Alumni Association Awards Dinner. It will be held Friday, June 26, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the MSU Campus Center Luckasen Room. The dinner will be followed by musical entertainment from Jazz On Tap +2, whose members include three of Mayville State’s nationally and regionally recognized jazz musicians from the 1970s, Kris Eylands, Dennis Connelly, and Kirk Overmoe.

It will be a pleasure to recognize this year’s Alumni Association honorees. They are Distinguished Alumni Award recipients Karen Lyng Asmundson, Dr. James LaBarre, and Leroy McClure, Jr. Distinguished Service Award recipients are Mary Iverson and Harlan Johnson.

Karen Lyng Asmundson (’90), Inver Grove Heights, Minn., was hired into 3M’s Automotive Division in St. Paul, Minn. as a Product Development Chemist in 1993. Her career has focused on product development and scale-up of a variety of products for the automotive industry, including rear view mirror adhesive, lead free wheel weights, thermal insulation for catalytic converters, and diesel exhaust systems, work for which she has received several individual and team awards. In addition to her career as a chemist, Karen is a professional organizer, certified master recycler, and accomplished quilter.

Dr. James E. LaBarre (’65), Eau Claire, Wis., is professor emeritus and retired chair of the Department of Management Information Systems (MIS) and Coordinator of Instructional Technology for the College of Business, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Dr. LaBarre authored and co-authored 43 high school and college textbooks, business simulations, and ancillary publications. He has also authored numerous articles, reviews, and scholarly papers. As director of several curriculum development projects, he influenced the direction and development of secondary and post-secondary competency-based curriculums in Computer Information Systems.

Leroy McClure, Jr. (’83), Dallas, Texas, is a pioneer in the field of educating African-American children with learning differences, and his efforts to serve children with reading challenges led him to the creation of a full-time school. McClure’s FOCUS Learning Academy opened its doors to 100 students in 1999. Now the school has more than 900 students. He also created the FOCUS Teacher Training Program to train teachers to work with children with learning differences. Leroy has served as a member of the national board Black Alliance of Education Options and is a founding member of the Association of Charter Educators. He is a nationally noted speaker and the author of a book titled “Shot Doctor.”

Mary Kay (Hanson) Iverson (’68), Mayville, N.D., retired as Director of Academic Records/Registrar at Mayville State in 2009, after 32 years of dedicated service to the university where she assisted hundreds of students and alumni. She was an active member, officer, and award-winner in the North Dakota Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers and the regional Upper Midwest Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (UMACRAO) organization. Mary is truly a loyal supporter of Mayville State, rallying the members of her immediate and extended family to join her in lending their support as well. She is an advocate for all MSU athletic, theatrical, musical, and arts-related events.

Harlan Johnson (ex. ’82), Mayville, N.D., was the spark plug in establishing the Comet Athletic Club Sportsmen’s Raffle in 2007. The amount generated to support scholarships for Mayville State student athletes has nearly doubled since the first year in which the fundraiser was held. The cumulative gross amount generated through this fundraiser is now more than $567,000. Pulling off a successful event such as the Sportsmen’s Raffle takes a great team effort, but it also take someone to lead the charge, and Harlan has been that person. He is no longer a board member, but he continues to support Mayville State and the efforts of the CAC organization.

We are delighted that an ensemble of Mayville State music alumni will sing a couple of selections during the Alumni Association Awards Dinner program. The group includes Ann (Harlow) Kraft (’89), Patty (Hammond) Cote (’89), Jeff Cote (ex. ’87), John Dungan (’84), and JoDee (Erickson) Dungan (’84). Greta (Anderson) Paschke (’85, ’99) will accompany the group on piano.

I hope you’ll plan to join us in honoring our 2015 recipients of the Distinguished Service and Distinguished Alumni Awards on Friday, June 26. Tickets for the Alumni Association Awards Dinner may be purchased online at or by contacting the MSU Foundation at 701-788-4864 or RSVP deadline is Monday, June 8.