MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

April 11, 2020 

‘Thank you’ to all who make a difference

We have completed two weeks of all instruction being offered online only. This is a wonderful milestone! While we were well-prepared to move to complete online course delivery, it did not happen without a valiant effort on behalf of our faculty and staff. I am Comet Proud of how they are stepping up to make the best possible situation for our students and each other during these unprecedented times. I am equally proud of our students who are making the adjustment with understanding and patience.

It has been difficult to have to make the decision to cancel or postpone various events and activities. The annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament that was scheduled for the end of March had to be cancelled. Just last week, the decision to cancel Tables du Jour for this year was made. There was serious consideration for postponing, but with everything related to the pandemic still uncertain, organizers felt it best to hold off until next year.

Deciding what to do about commencement has been heart-wrenching. We very much want to be able to honor and celebrate with our graduates who have worked so hard to earn their college degrees, so we held off with making the decision for as long as we thought prudent. Last week, the president’s cabinet decided that we’ll postpone commencement. Commencement 2020 will be held Friday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. This is also Farmers Bowl weekend. We expect that teaming up with the much-anticipated annual community event will create an extra-special celebration. It will also be a reunion of current students and new graduates who haven’t been able to be together in quite some time. While we know, there will never be a day and time that will work well for all involved, we feel we have made the best possible compromise.

With Mayville State University extending remote instruction through the end of the semester, many students have asked about the possibility of housing and dining credits. Although state policy does not typically allow us to issue refunds at this point in the semester, the State Board of Higher Education has allowed North Dakota University System institutions to consider partial refunds for housing and dining credits. Mayville State personnel are working diligently on a plan to facilitate the process. Information will go out soon to those students who have residence hall and dining services contracts.

It is my great pleasure to announce that beginning on Monday, April 6, Steve Bensen joined us at Mayville State as the Vice President for Business Affairs (VPBA) on an interim basis. The VPBA position has been vacant since mid-January, so we’re happy to have the position filled with a dedicated and knowledgeable Mayville State supporter.

Some will recall that Mr. Bensen was our longtime VPBA until he retired a couple of years ago. I expect that he will serve in the role on an interim basis for no less than one year. Steve has a wealth of knowledge with business, budgeting systems, and processes that are invaluable, not only locally, but also at the state level. His background in budgeting will be key as we prepare for and enter a legislative year in 2021. In this role, Steve will serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet. We are thrilled to give Steve a big “welcome home” to Mayville State University.

Another interim appointment rounds out our President’s Cabinet membership. Our longtime Vice President for Academic Affairs retired at the end of February. Immediately after, I appointed Dr. Tami Such to fill that position on an interim basis. Tami Such, Ph.D., MSN, RNC-OB, PHN, is Mayville State’s Dean of Nursing and an Associate Professor of Nursing. Tami hit the ground running on March 1 and has done an excellent job of helping us through this uncharted territory known as the coronavirus pandemic. Her duties have included Academic Affairs business as usual, as well as the many special circumstances related to moving all classes online and the plethora of issues and new processes that needed to be developed because of this decision.

While I’m thinking of those who serve, I’d like to thank the many essential staff who continue to come to the Mayville State campus every day to ensure that our doors are open and the lights are on. … cafeteria, facilities, physical plant, administrative support, bookstore, admissions, and foundation personnel, as well as others … and our Child Development Programs (CDP) staff who continue to provide childcare for nurses, doctors, first responders, law enforcement, and others in essential roles in Mayville, Portland, Grand Forks, and Hillsboro. I give a big “thank you” to all for your continued service!

These uncertain times cause us to pause and consider and truly appreciate all the things that make our days brighter.  This might include a smile, a kind gesture, a thoughtful note, or a friendly “hello.” All of these things add up to people who make a difference in our lives. At “The School of Personal Service,” we know how important these people are. I extend my most sincere “thank you” to all who are making a difference at and for Mayville State University. You are all special beyond words.