Good-bye and thank you

The two years have gone by so fast! As I prepare to leave Southwest Minnesota State University, I wanted to share some reflections and say thank you to all who have welcomed me into the community. The SMSU community and the Marshall community have been so kind and welcoming to me. I never felt like an outsider. The community has so many good things happening that I will watch from a distance with a smile. The successes that have been accomplished during my two-year tenure are a tribute to what can happen when individuals and organizations work together for the betterment of all.

First on my list of things that happened is the development and implementation of the RN to BSN nursing program. In a very short period of time, many people got together to develop a program that was much needed. A thank you to Avera and ACMC for participating on the task force that made it happen. A special thank you to Avera for its financial generosity, which allowed the university to move forward faster than otherwise possible. As of today, we have the curriculum in place, a nursing director/faculty hired, the first class admitted and a spring class close to full.

Next is the establishment of the School of Agriculture and Food. Again with the help of so many individuals from the agriculture community assisting in defining curriculum needs and workforce needs it begins in the fall. We have a well-designed school that covers agronomy, 21st century agriculture issues, agribusiness, culinology and hospitality management. In the fall, the University will embark on educating individuals with a full menu curriculum that helps to keep students in our community and draw individuals into our region.

SMSU moved to a new stadium more than five years ago. It left an old and deteriorating stadium to be demolished when funds became available. My first thoughts were we needed to do something as it was a first impression of the University as you approached Marshall from Minnesota Highway 23. After lots of dialogue with internal and external groups, it became obvious that we could create a win-win solution for both SMSU and School District 413. By forming a partnership between the university and the school district we will begin to rehabilitate the stadium into a track and field complex with an artificial turf multi-purpose infield. The university has reinstated cross country and track and field as part of its athletic program and the school district found a partner in replacing it’s worn out track complex. A side advantage to this project is how well it integrates with the Regional Sports Commission mission and goals.

While these three projects are highlights of my tenure I could list others that are exciting such as: the rapid expansion of exercise science and the reaching out to include the community as part of the teaching curriculum to enhance health and wellness, the renovation of our auditorium/theater to replace all of the seating through a capital campaign, and the development of an associate of arts degree as an option for students and as pathway for students taking concurrent enrollment in the high school. It has been an honor for me to be part of all these activities made possible by a faculty and staff willing to work together and a community that works so hard to make the University successful.

Yesterday and today are known, tomorrow is a mystery! But with the people I have become acquainted with the mystery will be full of wondrous good things!