President's Column for Traill County Tribune

October 19, 2019 

There’s no place like ‘home’

Unfortunately, a snow storm that dumped lots of snow and blizzard conditions on our region kept us from following through with the Alumni Association-sponsored homecoming festivities that had been planned for Oct. 11 and 12. I feel bad for all who were looking forward to a big weekend, including the 2019 Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Service Award recipients and the Athletic Hall of Fame, Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame, and Performing Arts Hall of Fame inductees. While a decision is not yet final, it looks as though we will be recognizing these folks during Homecoming 2020 festivities. We’ve found that it’s very difficult to reschedule the banquets where these folks were to be honored because the honorees all have such busy schedules. It would be almost impossible to find a date that will work for all of them on short notice. The date for Homecoming 2020 has not yet been set, but please know that we will do it up big next year.

Thoughts of Homecoming conjure up sentiments about “home.” Everyone has their own thoughts about what “home” means to them, but I can’t help but think about how the community becomes “home” to our students and alumni. The Mayville-Portland and Traill County communities are truly special. People are kind beyond words, and their actions, big and small, evoke feelings of “home” for all with whom they interact.

My children, Will and Ella, who spend most of their time with their mother in Kentucky, have just spent the past several days with me as they were on a fall break from school. They had also been here just a few weeks prior to celebrate my inauguration and the annual Farmers Bowl festival. It is pure joy to have them with me whenever I can.

People here have rolled out the red carpet for Will and Ella, and I couldn’t be more grateful. They have both been treated royally by both young and old. Will has established a circle of friends in Mayville-Portland and was even allowed to hang out at the May-Port CG school while he was here. He enjoyed this experience immensely, and in no time at all, this community has become “home” to him. I so appreciate the school administrators, teachers, and coaches who have welcomed him with open arms. I don’t believe acts of kindness like this happen just anywhere. This place is special, and we are blessed to be here.

My 93-year-old father was able to be with us to share in the inauguration, Farmers Bowl, and Sportsmen’s Raffle festivities in September. My dad and I have always spent a great deal of time together. We worked together at our farm in southern Illinois, and we share a family cabin. We are always close in heart. When I made the decision to take the presidency at Mayville State, it was hard for him. While we can talk by phone any time we’d like, and visit in person on occasion, it’s just not the same as being “home.”

It was a bittersweet decision to move to Mayville. I was elated to have the opportunity to become president at a small university that stands for everything in which I believe. This was a career goal for me, something I’d wanted forever, but it meant that I had to leave my family and “home.”

When my father was about to return to Illinois after his visit to Mayville-Portland last month, he said, “Now I understand. The people here are so very kind. They have treated me so well and I know they do the same for you.”

These words meant everything to me. It was important that I could share with Dad first-hand just what this area is all about. He knows, as do I, that “home” is not necessarily a geographic location, it’s the satisfaction of feeling safe, comfortable, appreciated, respected, and loved.

So, while “home” for me is in Illinois, it is also here in the Mayville State, Mayville-Portland, and Traill County communities, as well as in the state of North Dakota. I’ve got the best of both worlds, and I am truly thankful. I am grateful to all who have helped to make this place my “home.”

I would say that these are the same feelings our alumni have in their hearts regarding their alma mater and the community. We should all be Comet Proud to have this outstanding heritage. What a wonderful gift! May we all work hard to be sure that this legacy will continue for generations to come.