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  • 1980s

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  • 1980s Timeline

    January, 1980 -- Post-Christmas classes resume at MSU, with the nation in turmoil over the ongoing hostage crisis in Iran. At MSU, students are just as concerned about rising prices (gasoline is $1.20, and milk 85 cents, a gallon). Rising food and fuel prices only exacerbate student frustrations, partly in light of the Minnesota legislature's decision to raise the legal drinking age again to 21.

    February, 1980 -- Vice President Walter Mondale visits MSU, which he calls the "classiest state university in the nation." He reassures students that President Jimmy Carter has "no intention" of confronting the Russian invasion of Afghanistan with military force.

    March, 1980 -- Minnesota's Higher Education Coordinating Board anticipates a decline in enrollment in state universities by 1990. Due to changing birth rates, rising costs and growth of community colleges, enrollment could fall as much as 25 percent. MSU administration plans to meet the possibility by greater out-of-state recruitment.

    March, 1980 -- U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz visits MSU and used a makeshift still to make alcohol; "not to drink," he notes, but to burn as fuel. He urges state university chemistry classes to research the potential of corn-based "gasohol" additives for automobiles.

    April, 1980 -- Unhappy with the State University Board's attempts to trim budgets, the Inter-Faculty Organization (IFO) of university teachers call for replacement of the Board's chancellor, Gary Hays. "Hays and the SUB think they are the managers of a corporation," the IFO charges. "A university is not created to make a profit but to give students a good education."

    May, 1980 -- MSU alumnus Mike Francis (class of 75), a nationally ranked long-distance runner, tells Advocate staff that while he hopes to qualify for the coming summer Olympics, he understands the possibility that America might boycott the coming Games. "If a boycott by the U.S. will help get the Soviets out of Afghanistan, I'll go along with that policy." The U.S. does boycott the 1980 Games.

    September, 1980 -- As the administration warns that further tuition increases are "likely," the Advocate publishes a story of students' increasing use of "discount and second-hand stores" for furnishing dorm rooms and apartments.

    November, 1980 -- "Dollars for Scholars" fund-raising campaign begins with a phonathon staffed by faculty, students and staff.

    December, 1980 -- As increasing numbers of students object to the use of mice and other animals in lab courses, MSU psychology instructor Richard Wielkiewicz admits he uses shock tests on rats to study human depression but notes "I always test the shocks on myself before administering them to the rats."

    February, 1981 -- MSU hosts traveling exhibit of photographs on the Great Depression of the 1930s in Minnesota. The exhibit "raises questions about the extent of government interference in the lives of its citizens, and how people viewed economic relief in the 1930s and how they view it today."

    March, 1981 -- MSU music department opens its "new electronic studio" in the Center for the Arts. The studio's keyboard synthesizers and modulators make the the facility the "best of its kind in the Tri-State area," notes music professor Mark Fasman.

    April, 1981 -- Two MSU faculty, poet Tom McGrath and artist Timothy Solien, receive Bush Foundation grants for independent creative work in the arts. Nancy Parlin, Dean of Arts and Humanities, receives a similar Bush Grant for summer study at Harvard University's Management Institute.

    May, 1981 -- Spring classes wrap up, but MSU staff are pleased to note that enrollments are high for summer classes in German, Aerobics, Chinese culture and Scandinavian Studies.

    September, 1981 -- Fall semester begins with satisfactory enrollment, but students are disappointed with 3-3 tie in the annual MSU-Concordia football rivalry.

    October, 1981 -- Feminist Gloria Steinem visits MSU for a speaking engagement and notes that women need to seek more leadership roles on campus.

    November, 1981 -- English department offers a course on the novels of Tolkien, while the department ponders the declining writing skills of students.

    December, 1981 -- A survey of alcohol use in dorms suggests that many students are drinking more, "binge drinking" is becoming popular.

    January, 1982 -- The campus feels the excitement as Mark Reed, former quarterback for the Dragons, is drafted by the NFL New York Giants. Although Reed's NFL career will be brief, the draft reflects the success of the MSU program.

    January, 1982 -- Students feel the pain as the State University Board approves a 27% tuition increase. It will cost $17.65 a credit in Fall 1982 (as opposed to $7.25 in 1972).

    March, 1982 -- Given the inflation of college costs, MSU administration now "anticipates cuts in the number of faculty."

    April, 1982 -- MSU student Mark Hilde will serve as First Mate on the Hjemkomst, a Viking ship replica that will sail from North America to Norway in the spring. The Hjemkomst was designed and built by the late Robert Asp, an area teacher.

    May, 1982 -- As graduation looms, the Advocate raises a question -- do academic credentials, or good looks and charm, do more to help people get jobs? The issue is not easily answered in an era dominated by mass media.

    May, 1982 -- Twelve long-serving faculty of Moorhead State take their retirement, including Tom McGrath, Marlowe Wegner, Margaret Reed, Jack Youngquist, Alice Bartels, and Ed Estes.

    June, 1982 -- With the post of chancellor vacant, the Minnesota State University System unanimously chooses Roland Dille to become acting chancellor. Dille declines interest in keeping the position as a national search begins.

    August, 1982 -- MSU holds an Alumni Reunion Spectacular to promote membership in the University's Foundation, raise contributions for scholarships, and publicize its upcoming 100th anniversary in 1987.

    September, 1982 -- Classes begin with enrollment down 3% from the previous academic year. Inflations has pushed tuition up nearly 30% over two years, and job placement is lower among the spring graduates. In a two-part series, the Advocate asks if rising costs and uncertain futures will make college a less attractive investment.

    October, 1982 -- Jesse McKellar, retired professor of physical education and coach of women's sports, becomes first woman inducted into the Dragon Hall of Fame.

    October, 1982 -- For the first time, business passed education as the largest major on the MSU campus.

    November, 1982 -- A student is placed on probation after calling one of her instructors a "f****** bastard." In light of the Advocates' freedom to freely quote the story, this ignites a debate over the right to free speech and the verbal abuse sections of the Student Conduct Code.

    December, 1982 -- The Everywoman's Guide to Colleges and Universities ranks Moorhead State with Ohio State and Berkeley as "one of the nation's top co-educational institutions for women."

    January, 1983 -- Students prepare a petition urging the State Legislature to take measures to slow the rise in tuition (which has increased by 44% over four years).

    March, 1983 -- MSU campus is all but empty March 26, as future U.S. Senator Al Franken, with stage partner Tom Davis, perform their "Saturday Night Live" comedy act in Fargo.

    April, 1883 -- Students from state universities demonstrate at Capitol Building in St. Paul, against "crippling" tuition costs for higher education.

    May, 1983 -- The MSU baseball team completes its final season, going out in style with a 28-16 record, an NIC championship and the NAIA District 13 championship. Most of the players subsequently transferred to other schools, two playing for the University of Minnesota. The university's gymnastics program is also closed down to balance the budget.

    September, 1983 -- Enrollment drops slightly for the second straight year. Maridel LeSueur, journalist, novelist and poet, who was blacklisted in the 1950s for her pro-labor writings, speaks at the MSU Visiting Scholars program.

    October, 1983 -- Holmquist Hall is briefly infested with fleas; "we'd go to bed at night and wonder how many bites we'd get," reports a resident. It takes two weeks to clear the hall of the problem.

    December, 1983 -- A possible strike is averted when the state reaches an agreement with the IFO faculty union for a new contract.

    January, 1984 -- Basketball team center Mike Bednarek is named to the NIC All-Conference team for his scoring and rebounding prowess.

    February, 1984 -- MSU celebrates its 97th year with an all-class reunion/party at Moorhead's Ramada Inn.

    March, 1984 -- Enrollment increases to 7200, as Minnesota's new state SELF program (Student Educational Loan Fund) provides additional loans for college. Acting on an initiative from Professor Peter Geib, MSU creates the first International Business studies program in the state. (Read the program brochure)

    May, 1984 --MSU women's basketball sophmore Karen Card is named to the NAIA All American team.

    September, 1984 -- MSU celebrates a two percent increase in enrollment, partly due to vigorous recruitment and scholarship money raised with the assistance of the MSU Foundation (read about -- the origins of the MSU Foundation).

    October, 1984 -- Former presidential candidate George McGovern visits MSU and speaks on the need for nuclear arms limitations. "Without co-existence, there will be no existence," he tells a large audience of students.

    November, 1984 -- Argument begins on campus over the announcement that the university administration has decided to ban the sale of Penthouse on campus. Many students complain that the ban violates their freedom to choose what they want to read, while others argue that the magazine is an affront to women. The administration stands by the ban, saying that the magazine can be purchased elsewhere in the community.

    December, 1984 -- As Christmas looms, the university celebrates an unexpected present -- enrollment for winter quarter is up two percent over the fall quarter enrollment. 

    January, 1985 -- Students were saddened to learn that the Moon-Lite Drive-in Theater, south of Moorhead, will soon close.

    February, 1985 -- Campus security investigates two dormitory fires caused by burning paper towels in trash bins. Housing Director Mike Pehler fears that these "might be cases of arson" but finds few facts to determine the truth.

    March, 1985 -- In response to persistent publicity that tightly sealed homes will have "dangerous pockets of radon gas," MSU chemist Dennis Mathiason completes study of the subject for the Minnesota Department of Energy, which finds "insignificant" amounts of radon in all types of homes and buildings in the region.

    April, 1985 -- MSU administration studies changes in logo and image, in preparation for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the college.

    May, 1985 -- As 700 students prepare to graduate, many comment that "finishing college in four years is not as easy as it used to be," due to higher costs, off-campus jobs, and delays in completing the number of required courses.

    September, 1985 -- Good news greets returning students and faculty as enrollment rises to over 7500 for Fall quarter.

    October, 1985 -- Students at the Student Union Programming Board (SUPB) debate whether or not music with "explicit lyrics" can be played at campus functions in the Wooden Nickel, auditorium, etc.

    November, 1985 -- National Alcohol Awareness Week is marked by having "six campus celebrities" (faculty) "intoxicate themselves to the point of illegality" at the CMU to demonstrate the effects of drinking.

    November, 1985 -- Students enrolled in an introductory astronomy complain to the Student Senate that the course is "poorly taught" and the instructor "unfair in expectations" for a passing grade. They ask for Senate support in "getting a tuition refund." (See "Students as Customers" on this growing trend).

    November, 1985 -- With students paying more for college and working more off campus, the managers of the Student Union begin planning for changes in services.

    December, 1985 -- Concerned about the "attrition" rate of freshmen, MSU begins a study of ways to lower the drop-out rate. The rate was 28% in 1983, 25% in 1984. One early result of the study suggests that the "geographic isolation" of Fargo-Moorhead is a major contributor to the problem.

    January, 1986 -- In an op-ed letter to the Fargo Forum, MSU President Roland Dille disputes an article which suggested that political candidates "closely aligned with Moorhead State University" are too liberal to represent the local community. "I would say that the people of Moorhead elect public servants on the basis of the candidates' abilities," Dille asserts, pointing out the Moorhead State faculty who have served terms in city and county government.

    February-March, 1986 -- As Spring term gets underway, fraternities and sororities at MSU become concerned that more and more students show little interest in joining Greek societies. "We offer connections and chances for community service," notes a spokesperson, "but off-campus jobs and other activities are reducing our memberships."

    April, 1986 -- The University considers adding a "legal assistance" service to the campus. "We could help with landlord issues, consumer issues and DUI problems," notes a campus representative, "but there may be a potential for liability as a result of university sponsorship of such service. Things are more complicated now."

    May, 1986 -- As graduation preparations are underway, visiting professor Andrew Conteh of Political Science is named Professor of the Year by popular vote of the students. "A lot of us hope he will get a permanent appointment," a student tells the Advocate.

    September, 1986 -- The Homecoming Committee announces that it will revive the practice of electing a "Homecoming King and Queen," for the first time since 1969.

    October, 1986 -- Under a new scholarship program created by the State University System, students from "disadvantaged farm families" in Minnesota can receive free tuition for up to six credits, for up to three quarters of classes at any of the state universities. This "family farm scholarship program" was passed at the urging of Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich to help "farm families suffering from the economic displacement" of the 1980s.

    November, 1986 -- Students protest when MSU concludes "an exclusive contract" with Pepsico Inc. to sell only Pepsi products in the universities pop machines. Non-Pepsi soft drinks are only available at the Deli and Et Cetera Shop in Kise Commons. Food Services manager Dave Souba acknowledges that the Pepsi-exclusive arrangement is unpopular with most students -- "hands down, Diet Coke is the most popular selling cola." The Pepsico contract will not be renewed after two years.

    December, 1986 -- MSU counselors at Hendrix Health undertake a major effort to deal with a growing problem among women students -- "bulimia is becoming a nightmare with young women," and the University schedules workshops and studies to address the dangers.

    January, 1987 -- MSU begins an ambitious $3 million fundraiser to accompany its Centennial Celebration (read fundraiser brochure).

    February, 1987 -- Once again, the Faculty Senate passes a resolution that college faculty "should be evaluated by students, and that the results be made public to assist students in their choice of classes."

    March, 1987 -- Construction of new third and fourth floors of the University Library nears completion, but student focus is more on news that MSU "ranks last among NIC teams in financial support of student athletes."

    April, 1987 -- Noting that current enrollment trends are "defying the grim projections of the early 1980s," Registrar John Tandberg predicts that MSU enrollment will grow to about 9000 students within a few years.

    May, 1987 -- MSU holds a special convocation to mark its 100th anniversary (see convocation program). The college also hosts a "grand banquet fundraiser" as part of the 100th anniversary celebration (see the banquet program/menu).

    September, 1987 -- Enrollment reaches another record with over 8300 students. The count did not include several dozen high school students who could take college courses through the state's Post-Secondary Options program.

    October, 1987 -- Returning to MSU to be part of the school's 100th homecoming, former president John Neumaier tells a group of students that encouraging a "liberal education isn't always easily accepted by a community."

    November, 1987 -- The remodeled lowest level of the Student Union opens its doors as "The Underground," a dance- and (non-alcohol) night-club. The Underground will host 23,000 patrons in two years.

    December, 1987 -- Students are saddened to learn that the Federal Government will reduce funding for loans and Pell grants in 1988.

    January, 1988 -- MSU administration considers replacing the quarter system for classes with a semester system. The Tri-College program (with NDSU switching to semesters and Concordia using the system) suggests that a transition to semesters could preserve current enrollments. The issue is tabled after discussions.

    February, 1988 -- MSU Library collection of law journals is damaged by theft of $2600 worth of microfiche. The culprit is never determined.

    April, 1988 -- MSU wrestling team finishes winning season with four team members qualifying for the NAIA national tournament and one member (Steve Richard) as the division's Most Valuable Wrestler.

    May, 1988 -- With commencement, MSU concludes its 20th year with Roland Dille as President. Admissions applications suggest that the university will have over 9000 students in another year.

    September, 1988 -- MSU begins a $1.7 million renovation of the Student Union. Plans to change the traditional dormitory are also under consideration; faculty and administrators agree that the "student of the 1990s" will expect large dorm rooms (or suites) with advanced telecommunications (TCP/IP) access to the merging 'internet.'

    October, 1988 -- A twelve-member, faculty task force begins the tendentious process of revising the Liberal Arts Requirements for graduation. With "fully 25 percent of the MSU students as good as any at Minnesota's private colleges, we want to update our education model for the future," comments task force member Ken Smemo.

    November, 1988 -- Women's sports athletic director Mary Curtis sparks controversy by telling newscasters that "I've been patient for five and a half years, but we have yet to achieve equality for women's sports."

    December, 1988 -- MSU's Advocate marks the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights with commentary on the document's history and contents by guest columnist Andrew Conteh.

    January, 1989 -- Marking the thirty years since rock star Buddy Holly died in 1959, killed in an accident while en route to a concert in Moorhead, MSU holds a concert of classic pop music.

    February, 1989 -- A major influenza epidemic hits campus, delaying classes and exams. Medical personnel note that "lack of sleep," due to off-campus jobs, has made this year's flu outbreak among students more serious.

    March, 1989 -- "Copies Plus" opens in Student Union, offering copy service to students and packets of readings/study guides for selected campus courses.

    April, 1989 -- A proposal to expand the MSU campus to the west and north leads to numerous meetings with property holders. Negotiations for acquiring properties will take over a year.

    May, 1989 -- MSU's Special Task Force unveils its draft for revising the Liberal Arts requirements. Among the major changes -- alternatives for meeting the mathematics requirements, more communications courses and an end to most cross-disciplinary courses.

    September, 1989 -- Enrollment passes 9000 as classes begin; revised admission requirements mandate that each student admitted has scored 21 or more on the ACT examination, or have graduated in the upper half of his/her high school class.

    October, 1989 -- MSU graduate James Ellingson (1962) is named Minnesota Teacher of the Year by the State Education Association.

    November, 1989 -- Students, faculty, and administrators begin a protracted discussion regarding the University's future. With proposals being made in St. Paul to remodel the State University system, with enrollment topping 9000 and more expected in 1990, with the 100th anniversary completed, how should MSU prepare for the future. Renaming MSU as Minnesota State University-Moorhead; becoming a campus of the University of Minnesota; capping enrollment; expanding the campus with new construction; expansion by "virtual classes" and online classes; all will be debated in the coming decade. "Enrollments and future funding from the state," note MSU President Dille, "will decide most of these matters."

    December, 1989 -- Following complaints from women students and some faculty, MSU Vice-president Roland Barden asks departments and offices to remove mistletoe as holiday decorations. "It's an end to an era," comments the Advocate.  

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