I am proud and humbled to take my place as the 10th president of Minnesota State University Moorhead, a great institution of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. I love MSUM; I accept this awesome responsibility; and I pray each day for the wisdom to lead this wonderful community into the coming years.
I stand here before you today shaped by many years of experiences, some good, some not so good. Most dear to me were those involving people who believed in me and challenged me to discover and achieve my potential. I believe that those experiences led me to this university and to this day.
When I set my sights on a university presidency, there was no question that I wanted to lead a student-centered institution where such life changing experiences were woven through the very fabric. I am fortunate to have found the perfect place, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and I proudly take this occasion to celebrate our community of accomplishment, with just a few examples, and to share our vision for the future.
We had our beginnings as Moorhead Normal School in 1887 as the result of a bill introduced by State Senator Solomon Comstock. Since then, we have evolved into what we are today: a student-centered, Liberal Arts and Science-based undergraduate institution with graduate and professional programs that serve the needs of the state and region.
The caring nature of the faculty and staff is core to the institution’s past, present, and future. Stories of long gone alumni share this common theme with those of our current students. I continue to hear about professors whose belief in students changed their lives, faculty who helped students accomplish the impossible, and staff members who cared well above and beyond the call of duty.
Given the nature of our university, it should come as no surprise that eight of our faculty members have been named as Carnegie Foundation Minnesota State Professors of the Year. These awards are the pinnacle of recognition for teaching and its impact on students. With eight, MSUM has more than any other university in Minnesota or in the region. Only 14 universities in the country have more. These eight are just the tip of the iceberg. To use an Athletics analogy: we have tremendous bench strength in teaching excellence.
Our students are pretty spectacular as well. We have Goldwater scholars, regional Emmy recipients, winners of prestigious national and regional competitions, and many more honors across all of our colleges. In addition, our students lead critical volunteer and advocacy efforts and play major roles in campus governance. I have been most impressed by the level and quality of student participation and leadership.
We often joke that if we pressed a button and all of our alumni disappeared, many local and state industries would collapse. In my seven months and 20 days at MSUM, I have met many wonderful alumni, for example, CEOs, K-12 teachers of the year, media leaders, health care professionals, writers, elected officials, non-profit and governmental leaders, and the list goes on and on. Like our faculty, staff, and students, these accomplished and special people make me all the more proud to be here, and to be your President.
Today, like most universities in the nation, we weather the economic storm and prepare to cut budgets. At the same time, we are working together on our vision for the future. Although we are still in process, I can tell you that:
I thank you for the opportunity to serve this wonderful university and community. For me it is a dream come true. I thank all of you for helping to make this day memorable for our MSUM community and for me. And finally, I would like to say: Go Dragons!!
Celebrating a Community of Accomplishment
MSUM Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
February 20, 2009