MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

May 16, 2020 

Reflecting on a memorable academic year

This last week, students have been taking their final exams and wrapping up the Spring Semester of 2020. If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t intervened, we’d have been having a commencement celebration with this year’s graduates on Saturday, May 16. Instead, we will postpone that event until Friday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. We eagerly await the opportunity to be together and recognize our graduates for their outstanding achievements.

Summer session classes will be delivered online. This will not be a big change for us at Mayville State, as most summer classes have been offered online over the last several years. Summer session 2020 will be pretty much business as usual. Most classes begin on May 26. See the summer school details at The application fee for summer and fall enrollment is being waived through May 31! I encourage all who are interested to apply as soon as possible.  

The close of the academic year always leaves me feeling a little nostalgic. I find myself reflecting on the events and happenings of the past year.

We started the year with record enrollment and all the excitement a new academic year brings. We were beginning our first full academic year with our new advising center up and running. The advising center, which is a major component of a Department of Education Title III grant received by Mayville State, is helping to provide enhanced advising services to our students.

Growing current and new degree programs is a top priority in the plan to transform Mayville State University. Several of our proposed programs were approved by the State Board of Higher Education in the last academic year and are now up and running. They are the Associate of Arts in University Studies (liberal arts transfer); undergraduate certificates in online digital teaching, special education, developmental adapted physical education (DAPE), emergency response, biotechnology, business studies, and college studies; a Bachelor of Science degree in sport coaching; the Master of Science degree in nursing with nurse educator and nurse leadership and management tracks; and graduate certificates in nurse educator, nurse leadership and management, and online digital teaching. Bachelor of Science degree programs in agribusiness and accounting were approved recently and work to get them up and running to begin in the fall semester of 2020 is underway. A Bachelor of Science degree in applied behavior analysis is set to begin in the fall of 2020 or 2021.

My inauguration as Mayville State’s 17th president and the annual Farmers Bowl festivities provided for a time of celebrating the university in mid-September. The campus and community rallied for a great Farmers Bowl parade, corn on the cob and hot dog feed, and the Farmers Bowl football game. The Comets were able to tame the Lions of Trinity Bible College in the big game. The day culminated with the annual Comet Athletic Club Sportsmen’s Raffle event, which included the Farmers Bowl silent auction. This is a big fundraising event that helps to provide scholarship assistance for Mayville State’s students.

Our loyal alumni and friends have stepped up big time this year in some extremely successful fundraising drives. We are truly grateful for their generosity that is making a difference for Mayville State students.

We had geared up for a fantastic homecoming celebration in October, but had to cancel events for alumni and friends when a big snowstorm hit our area. Thanks to our devoted and hard-working community members who jumped in to help, the snow was removed from the turf football field so the annual homecoming game could be played on Sunday, the day following its originally scheduled date.

The untimely passing of Jeff Sieg, a beloved member of the Mayville State University family, left our faculty, staff, students, and alumni sad and stunned. Sieg, a professor of science, passed away on Nov. 12 at the age of 61. We miss you on campus, Jeff.

Throughout the year, we watched our students shine in their activities. Students presented their research findings at symposiums. Collegiate DECA brought home many awards and can now boast of Mayville State’s first-ever state president among its membership. We were treated to wonderful musical and theatrical performances.

We watched all of our Comet Athletics teams and student athletes as they represented Mayville State with poise and class. How exciting it was to see our men’s basketball team win their third-straight conference tournament championship and head to the national tournament for the third time in as many years. Likewise, the women’s team claimed the regular season and conference tournament championships and punched their ticket into the national tournament.

Unfortunately, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic caused the NAIA to cancel the national men’s basketball tournament just before the Comets were to take the floor in their opening round game. Additionally, the spring sports seasons for Comets baseball and softball ended abruptly this spring, also due to the pandemic.

The pandemic also forced us to make a quick switch to all online course delivery right after spring break in March and caused the move to have most staff and faculty work remotely. Navigating during this uncharted territory has brought challenges no doubt, but I am so very proud of our students, faculty, and staff for their can-do attitudes that have helped to make this the best possible situation for all. We will be back to face-to-face instruction this fall, and I couldn’t be more excited. A return to life as normal as possible will be welcome for sure.

I believe that the 2019-20 academic year is one that will be long-remembered, not only for highs, but also for lows. I also believe that there is good in everything, and that the events of this year are strengthening the bonds we feel as members of the Mayville State family. Brighter days are ahead!