MSU President's Newspaper Column

March 27, 2021

Optimism and progress are at the forefront, even as we navigate the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has been the overarching theme over everything during the last year. We’ve come a long way since this began a little over a year ago, and our faculty, staff, and students have invested a great deal of themselves into getting us to this point. There have been thousands of decisions to make and hours and hours of discussions for planning. Add to that the energy needed to implement those plans, and it all adds up to a mountain-sized accomplishment, something for which we can all be extremely proud.  

Our COVID-19 dashboard shows no active cases and no close contacts among students and employees as of March 23, 2021. We were diligent in offering rapid antigen testing for employees and students during the week prior to spring break, and now that students and faculty have returned from spring break. We all know that testing is one of the best ways we can keep our community safe and healthy, and we are putting forth our best efforts to make testing available and to encourage individuals to take advantage of it.

Another bright spot in light of the pandemic is the availability of vaccines. The process of moving along much more quickly than expected and many of our employees were able to receive vaccines already a few weeks ago. We originally thought that may not happen until May, or even July. In addition. Traill County Health announced last week, that they are opening testing to everyone 18 years of age and older.

Short of a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving in 2020, we have been able to get through this academic year offering face-to-face on-campus courses. This is something we know our students wanted and needed, and they, along with our faculty and staff, have worked hard to make it happen. This is not the norm across the country, and I believe that we set the standard for what many others wish they could have done.

It is nothing short of miraculous that we could not only be successful in maintaining our commitment to offering on-campus classes and services while delivering a quality education to our students, but that we also achieved many victories outside of the classroom throughout the year.

Research opportunities for our students are abundant. Dr. Khwaja Hossain is leading research that explores the potential benefits of delivering medicines for chronic illnesses, including high cholesterol and diabetes, by inserting them into chickpeas, which are grown in North Dakota. Dr. Joseph Mehus is leading a group who study mosquito biology and ecology in the Mayville Area. The goal of the project is to better understand mosquito species composition and population dynamics, which will help us to know more about disease transmission for pathogens that are vectored by mosquitoes.

While most campuses had to resort to virtual graduation ceremonies last year, on Sept. 25, 2020 Mayville State was able to hold a COVID-19 safe in-person commencement ceremony for our graduates. This ceremony would normally have been held in May, but it was delayed due to coronavirus concerns.

During a time of pandemic-related sadness and isolation for many people, our students stepped up to bring some joy. Collegiate DECA members made cards and decorated pumpkins and Science Club members potted plants and shared them with local nursing home and assistance living facility residents.

Our student-athletes have been stars on and off the playing court and field. We are elated that every one of our athletic sports has been able to forge through their seasons, play games, and enjoy success, and for much of the time, spectators were allowed to join in the excitement.

Accreditation activities have continued and there have been successful reviews. New academic programs have been launched. Our progress on the academic front has definitely not slowed through all of this. We’re moving forward with tenacity to ensure the legacy of “personal service” will continue to make a difference for individuals and the world. Our annual Mayville State Mania campaign to impact enrollment is underway and enrollment projections for fall are looking good. We are very optimistic.

One of the things we hear over and over from our students is how much the kindness of community members means to them. Our students consider the support of the community to be an important factor in their decision to attend Mayville State and it becomes even more cherished as they make Mayville their home away from home while they pursue their degrees. We are extremely grateful for the role our community plays in the success of the students and the university.

On Wednesday, April 7, we’ll be making a huge announcement that will give us an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional relationship our campus and community enjoy. We can hardly wait to let you know about something big that will be happening in the near future. It’s important to us that our community friends and business owners will join us on this special day. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us at the Lewy Lee Fieldhouse at 5 p.m.