MSU President's Newspaper Column

December 16, 2023 

Reflecting on a wonderful fall semester

It’s hard to imagine that the fall semester is already coming to a close. The outstanding work of faculty and staff has prepared students for the milestones they are now reaching. They are taking their final tests and finishing up final projects. Those who have been student teaching are saying “farewell” to their students and the teachers who have mentored them during the last several months. Some of our students have now completed their degree requirements and won’t be returning. Many students have departed for their holiday destinations and are preparing to celebrate with their loved ones. It’s a bit of a bittersweet time, and a time for reflection on all that has happened over the last semester.

The $52+ million project to renovate our beloved Old Main is underway. We are incredibly grateful to the state of North Dakota for awarding the funding that will help us complete this life-changing project for the university. A lot of preliminary work has been completed. The architects have been hired, and a Construction Manager at Risk will be hired soon. Stakeholders have had opportunities to weigh in with their wishes for the building during a number of meetings held to garner input. Now the design process begins.

In the spring, we’ll begin vacating the building in preparation for physical construction work. The architects are working hard to determine a plan for where classrooms, offices, and more will be located while the renovation takes place. The project is scheduled for completion during the summer of 2026 and occupancy by the time the Fall Semester of 2026 begins. We eagerly await the finished product and the good it will mean for Mayville State University, its students, faculty, and staff.

Our athletic teams have enjoyed success this fall. The football and volleyball seasons are now complete. The golf, baseball, and softball teams enjoyed some fall competition and will pick back up in the spring, and the men’s and women’s basketball seasons are underway.  

Women’s basketball player Jordan Zrust made history on Dec. 5 when the Comets hosted University of Minnesota-Morris. With minutes left in the second quarter, Jordan connected on a three-pointer to hit 2,000 points in her career. She is the first Mayville State women’s basketball player to do so. Men’s basketball player Jamison Kramer recently scored a career high 34 points in a game.

From a field of more than 175 highly qualified applicants, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) has selected Mayville State Head Football Coach and Interim Athletic Director Rocky Larson for the 35 Under 35 List. The AFCA 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute is a prestigious program aimed at identifying and developing premier future leaders in the profession of football coaching.

Mayville State’s Elora Passa was named First-Team All-Conference North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Women’s Volleyball, and Natalie Hadrava was named to the Second-Team All-Conference. Payton Richter received the 2023 NSAA Women’s Volleyball Champions of Character Award.

In football, Mayville State’s Zach Caesar and Javeion Davison were named NSAA First-Team All-Conference Offense. Tim Salmon was named Second-Team All-Conference Offense, and Bailey Mullenberg, Devon Woods, Danzele Navy, and Will Flemons were named Second-Team All-Conference Defense. Braeden Lacombe and Kaden Johnson were named Second-Team All-Conference Special Teams. Jared Gay, Darrick Frederick, Kelby Azure, and Mason Ollman were named All-Conference Honorable Mention. Jake Lietecky was named NSAA Football Assistant Coach of the Year. Gavin Bohlman received the Champions of Character Award.

Mayville State students presented the work of their scientific research teams at the North Dakota INBRE annual symposium in October. Dr. Thomas Gonnella and his student researchers, Kaitlin Ensign, Thyra Peterick, Gerrit Bjornstad, and Sydney Brekken, were represented; as were Dr. Joseph Mehus and his team of mosquito researchers, Jesse Halverson, Madisen Knudsvig, Keylim Rivera, Gavin Bohlman, and Taylor Painter. In addition, Kaitlin Ensign presented the work of her team at the joint Midwest-Great Lakes Regional ACS meeting in St. Louis, Mo. in October.

Our students have been busy doing good in our community. They hosted a fun-filled Halloween party for area children; a fundraiser to help Miles Passa, six-year-old brother of student Emma and Olivia Passa, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer; a toy drive for area children in need; and so much more.

I am extremely proud of our students and their academic and extra-curricular achievements, as well as their goodwill beyond the campus. The list of accomplishments is long, and I’ve listed only a handful here, but I commend and am grateful for each and every one. We are blessed to have wonderful young people who call Traill County their home, as well as online students who call Mayville State their university.