Leaders from the MSUM Foundation Board have always been key supporters for student scholarships and campus needs.
Now they’re the cheerleaders and donors for a home of their own – the MSUM Alumni Center.
“It’s time,” says Mark Vanyo, a former president of the Foundation Board. “It’s a great way to build better connections with alumni.”
Groundbreaking for the new center, located across 11th Street from Bridges Hall and the campus gates will take place on Friday, April 29 at 2 p.m.
Foundation staff and board members led a comprehensive campaign that raised more than $59 million.
Part of that campaign included funding for the Alumni Center. This facility will provide space for student and community interactions and serve as the anchor for alumni returning to campus. In addition, the center will house the Foundation’s office.
Vanyo served on a committee that researched the feasibility of the center. At the time, he visited other campuses in the region that had their own alumni centers.
Supporting an alumni center for MSUM was an easy choice.
“When you’re in competition for students, you want to keep the alumni happy,” he said. “Those students will become alumni. If they see people wanting to do things for alumni, it becomes important.”
He also encouraged his college fraternity to support the project. In 2023, Tau Kappa Epsilon will celebrate its 60th reunion. Vanyo said he’d be thrilled if they could host their reunion events in the new center.
Bob Bowlsby served on the Foundation board when members first started dreaming about an alumni center. Historically, the university’s Foundation offices have been shuffled around campus, making it difficult for returning graduates to feel tethered to the university.
He sees value in having a centralized location for Dragons who call MSUM their alma mater. He lives near Dallas, Texas, but returns to Moorhead to visit his wife’s family.
“When I go back, I take a run or walk through campus,” he says. “I look at what’s changed and let some of the old memories back.”
He said having a visible touchstone for alumni will help them feel connected and valued.
“Not everyone needs that, but many come back and wander around the campus, and you never know they’ve been here,” Bowlsby said.
In addition, he says the center will be a magnet for the community, bringing people from across the Fargo-Moorhead region to campus. Warm, inviting spaces for gatherings will welcome people to engage and socialize with MSUM students and faculty.
The center’s high-profile location also has deep meaning among alumni, Bowlsby said. Not only is the center publicly visible, but it will sit on an iconic piece of ground. Alumni have fond memories of the area that was home to fraternity houses, the Ingersoll House and Vic’s Southside Superette.
It will also be a symbolic beacon that shines a light on MSUM’s legacy of philanthropy. It will remind generations of MSUM students of the generosity of those who came before them.
“Private support is the difference between being average and being outstanding,” Bowlsby says. “This project proves we’re outstanding.”
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Dragon alumni will soon have a place of their own. A groundbreaking ceremony for the long-awaited MSUM Alumni Center will be in April 2022. In addition to serving as the anchor for alumni returning to campus, the center will provide space for students and community members to interact.