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MSU Moorhead
Office of the President
203 Owens Hall
1104 Seventh Ave. S.
Moorhead, MN 56563
(218) 477-2243

 

Letter from President Edna

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues, 

Today, I am writing to express my thanks for your hard work and your generosity of time and spirit over the last several days. I remain awed at the way in which this campus sprang into action to serve the community. As the situation returns slowly to normal, I would like to take a few moments to reflect with you on the last two weeks.

As I told the students in my letter to them yesterday, my own home was saved by groups of volunteers including students from MSUM, Concordia, and Moorhead High. My husband and I celebrated our 36th anniversary this week and gave thanks for the privilege of living here and being part of the inspirational MSUM university community.

The last two weeks have been a bit of a blur for many of us. However, I would like to recap highlights of what has happened in the following paragraphs.

  • On March 19, we learned of the forecast for a record crest of the Red River within 10 days. At that time, we moved into emergency management mode following the National Incident Management System (NIMS) protocols. Security Director, Michael Parks became the Incident Commander. He immediately coordinated with the city and county Emergency Operation Centers (EOC) and has been attending their daily briefings on a regular basis. Mark Rice jumped into action coordinating the finance division for the incident and prepared contracts with the city, county, and others so that we could recoup costs. Jeff Goebel coordinated the logistics team and worked to protect the campus and support the emergency operations.

  • Last week, we operated a volunteer center at Nemzek for the City of Moorhead. Over the course of the operation, 20,000 volunteers were dispatched from there to various sandbag lines and other critical needs. Countless faculty, staff, and students volunteered through the center and other places in the community. There are so many stories of members of this community working for hours on end under difficult circumstances to save our city. For example, Professor Kathy Wise took control of the food service operation at Nemzek in order to assure food safety. We are not sure if she slept at all last week. Doug Peters coordinated Nemzek operations with the Incident Commander.

  • On Wednesday morning last week, the City and County asked for help in housing National Guard and other first responders deployed here from throughout the state. During that day, teams of staff from throughout the campus took Holmquist Hall out of mothballs and prepared it to house flood fighters on Wednesday night. I understand that the wrestling team probably broke some record for moving mattresses in a short amount of time. Since then, we have been housing an average of 200 flood fighters each night in Holmquist and feeding them through extended hours at Kise Commons.

  • Also, on Wednesday, the City/County EOC asked us to house their evacuation call center. Our EOC team jumped into action and worked with IT and others to set up a call center with appropriate software. It went live that evening, collecting information from evacuees. The center continues 24/7 and also collects information from returning evacuees as well as home owners reporting flood damage to their homes. It is managed by our security division and staffed by a mix of staff and volunteers who have been trained.

  • On Thursday, I invited Chancellor McCormick to visit. He and Don Beckering, MnSCU State Director of Fire/EMS/Safety Training/Compliance, visited the campus and toured Nemzek, the call center, and some of the field operations. They were blown away by the hard work and generosity of this campus community.

  • On Friday, in anticipation of the river crest, we closed our residence halls and bused students with no place to go to Bemidji State University. We also prepared to move critical records.

  • On Saturday, all operations continued and we moved critical records stored below ground to higher ground. We also requested assistance from the Chancellorís Office and received a back up to our Incident Commander from Minn West and a consultation on protecting the IT infrastructure. At the same time, we began preparing for the remote possibility of a higher crest that could further disrupt operations. Fortunately, that planning was not needed.

  • On Sunday, the Chancellor returned with Don Beckering and Vice Chancellor Laura King. They were briefed by members of our campus Emergency Operations Center and Policy Advisory Committees, including most Cabinet members. At that time, we requested relief for the student security workers who have been constantly on duty since the beginning. By Monday, we had additional security assistance here from Bemidji, Rochester, Minneapolis CTC, and Mankato. Indeed, the assistance we have been provided by the Chancellor, his staff, and the other campuses has been absolutely invaluable.

  • On Monday, we met with the Faculty Association and revised the campus calendar. Since then, we have continued our preparation to reopen on Monday, April 6.

What you have done here is an inspiration for the community and for the country. I cannot begin to thank the many faculty and staff who were here for days, nights, and weekends to bring us through this challenging time. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you very much for the privilege of being here with you and being part of this community. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance as we continue our return to normal operations.

Best wishes,
Edna

 

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