MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

June 4, 2016 

Mayville State will recognize distinguished alumni at June 24 dinner


We’re very excited about plans that are being made for Alumni Day, Friday, June 24. 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 on June 23, 24, 25, and 26.

A highlight of Mayville State’s plans for Alumni Days will be the annual Alumni Association Awards Dinner. It will be held Friday, June 24, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the MSU Campus Center Luckasen Room. It will be a pleasure to recognize this year’s Alumni Association honorees. They are Distinguished Alumni Award recipients Dr. Nannette Bagstad, Randy Eken, Al Larson, and Dale Norton. Jerold Bietz will be recognized posthumously as a distinguished alumnus. Doug Petersen will receive the Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Nannette Bagstad, Mayville, N.D., served as a faculty member in the Division of Education and Psychology at Mayville State from 1989 to 2012. During her career, she became fully tenured and served as chair of the division. Upon her retirement in 2012, she was granted the distinction of professor emeritus. Nannette was instrumental in the addition of the applied psychology and special education minors at MSU, and she was co-coordinator of the Bush Grant that taught students and faculty the research-based methodology of critical thinking and cooperative learning.

Jerold Bietz was a world-renowned researcher of wheat proteins. A prolific author and co-author of significant articles for noted professional journals, he was a frequent contributor to conferences, both at home and abroad. He was widely acknowledged to be a world leader during his brilliant scientific career in cereal science. He was named a fellow of the American Association of Cereal Chemists and received the William F. Geddes Memorial Award for service to his profession, and the Thomas Burr Osborne Medal, the association’s highest award for distinguished contributions in the field of cereal chemistry. Jerry passed away in 2014. His character was memorable in many ways, but particularly for his humility, honesty, generosity, friendliness, and great sense of humor.

Randy Eken, Grand Forks, N.D., is Associate Dean for Administration and Finance at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), where he is known as a dedicated, conscientious, hardworking, trustworthy, intelligent, kind, diligent, and loyal employee. Eken began as an accountant at SMHS in 1979 and has earned several promotions and awards during his time there. He is currently the building chair for the new School of Medicine and Health Sciences, which is nearing completion, He was instrumental in securing the $124 million in funding needed for this state of the art facility, and has worked tirelessly to ensure the effective planning and execution of the design for this unique facility.

Alan Larson, Tempe, Ariz., the original Captain Comet, is the executive director of the Maricopa Skill Center and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Innovation at GateWay Community College in Arizona. He and his wife, Rhonda, own Leaps and Bounds Pediatric Therapy Center, an organization that provides services for children with disabilities.

Dale Norton, Pahrump, Nev., lives by the motto “lead by example.” He has been a school administrator in Nye County School District (NCSD), the nation’s largest geographical school district, located just outside of Las Vegas, Nev. for 26 years. He has just completed his fourth year as the superintendent of schools. He started out in NCSD as principal at Amaragosa Valley Schools for kindergarten through eighth grade. He opened a brand new building when he was principal of Rosemary Clarke Middle School, NCSD’s largest middle school, with more than 1,200 students in attendance. During his four years at Rosemary Clarke, Dale was selected as Nevada’s Middle School Principal of the Year, and he received his state award in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2005.

Douglas Petersen, Mayville, N.D., continues to be a Comet through and through, years after his graduation from Mayville State in 1993. He was active while he was a Mayville State student and has continued that action into his role as an alumnus. A member of the MSU Foundation board of directors since 2014, Petersen is a staunch supporter of Mayville State University, attending events, providing financial assistance, and assisting in any way he can. Petersen is president of Citizens Insurance Agency, headquartered in Finley, N.D.

I hope you’ll plan to join us in honoring our 2016 recipients of the Distinguished Service and Distinguished Alumni Awards on Friday, June 24. 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 6.