Minot State Alumni Association to honor five with Golden Award

The Minot State University Alumni Association will honor two induction classes for a total of eight honorees with the Golden Award and two with the Young Alumni Achievement Award at the 53rd annual dinner on Thursday, Oct. 7.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on large in-person gatherings in 2020, individuals from both the 2020 and 2021 classes will be presented with awards at the annual event in the Minot State Conference Center.

The 2020 honorees include Chuck Barney, Josh Duhamel, Terry (Ferebee) Eckmann ’81/’82, and John Schwan ’82. The Young Alumni Achievement Award winner was Joseph Brewer ’04.

The 2021 honorees include Les Anderson ’68, Michael LeBeau ’95, Kevin Neuharth ’74, and Arnold Strebe ’86. This year’s Young Alumni Achievement Award winner is Evan Meiers ’10.

The Golden Awards are the highest award bestowed by the Minot State University Alumni Association. Selections are based on outstanding service to the University or Alumni Association and distinguished leadership in the recipient’s career or community. The Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient is between the ages of 21 and 39.

Les Anderson

Anderson, who earned a mathematics and business education degree at MSU, worked in public education for 40 years — nine years as a classroom teacher and 31 years as a school administrator.

During his tenure in education, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), North Dakota Principal of the Year, and the Milken National Educator of the Year which came with a $25,000 cash award. He was part of a team of educators who wrote a grant to the Carnegie Foundation to transition North Dakota’s junior high schools to the concept of middle school education. During this time, he helped form a middle level state organization and served as the executive director.

Anderson has served as a member of the Minot State University Alumni Association Board. While attending MSU he was a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity and the business manager for the yearbook. He also worked at MSU as an adjunct professor teaching middle level graduate classes.

He was asked by the NASSP and Prudential Insurance, which recognizes youth volunteers, to serve on a committee to initiate The Prudential Spirit of Community. In addition to his duties in the state of North Dakota, he served as the head counselor for the middle level students and liaison to the parents at the national awards program in Washington, D.C. for 18 years.

Anderson married Debbie (Bartsch) Anderson in 1969. She passed away from Alzheimer’s in January 2021. The promoting of Alzheimer’s awareness has become a life mission for Anderson. While educating youth from across the country regarding Alzheimer’s, he has distributed more than 12,000 Alzheimer’s bracelets. He continues to work with students nationwide tasking them with the responsibility to find a cure.

The Andersons have volunteered to work with the North Dakota Student Activities Association for the last 42 years. NDSAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and he currently serves as the executive director. NDSAA is made up of Student Council, National Honor Society and Middle Level. They have built the organization to serve over 2,500 students yearly in three state conferences with 15 state officers.

Anderson believes in students and their abilities. He will often refer to Earl Reum, one of his mentors, and the statement regarding working with young people. “You might have walked with the greatest and didn’t even know it.”

The Andersons have two daughters and six grandchildren.

Michael LeBeau

LeBeau serves as the president of the Sanford Health Bismarck region, overseeing the administration of health services and is responsible for the successful planning and implementation of operational and strategic goals for the Bismarck region.

He has been with Sanford Health for more than 10 years. LeBeau began at Sanford as a physician specializing in kidney care as a nephrologist. Prior to his current role, he served on the Sanford Board of Trustees and was a physician leader as the vice president of clinics.

LeBeau graduated from Minot State and the University of North Dakota. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Foundation in La Crosse, Wisconsin. LeBeau is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and serves on the board of trustees for the University of North Dakota School of Medicine Alumni Foundation.

Kevin Neuharth

Kevin Neuharth, a 1974 graduate, grew up in the heart of North Dakota, McClusky, and found his way to Minot State. Not knowing what he wanted to do he tried seven different majors and, feeling more at home on the stage than on the football field in high school, ended on speech and drama education.

He began his life on the MSU stage early on, auditioning for “Taming of the Shrew” followed by “Richard III,” — getting his first experiences with Shakespeare — and working with an entire cast of talented individuals. The stage at McFarland Auditorium will always be thought of as his second home, where he grew to love the challenges and spirits of the auditorium working there a half dozen times in the early 1970s, and where he was first introduced to his wife of 44 years, Cindy (Black) ’75. The couple have two children, Jared, a mechanical engineer in Prior Lake, Minnesota, and Cassie ’12, a marketing specialist and assistant manager of a golf store in Fargo.

Neuharth began his teaching career in speech and media arts at Minot Public Schools. With declining enrollments, his position was eliminated. While applying for similar positions in the state and region, he was summoned to the home of Harold Aleshire, professor at Minot State, who offered Neuharth the position of tech director at MSU. The job was teaching a full load of 15 credits a quarter in speech and theater, along with directing a couple shows each year and designing and building all productions. He was also required to earn his Master’s of Arts degree, which he did from the University of Denver, and began teaching at MSU in the fall of 1976.

During his 40-year career at Minot State, he directed 149 projects with MSU Mainstage, MSU Summer Theatre, the Sawmill Playhouse, Magic City Children’s Theater, University of Oregon Second Season, and Minot Public Schools Magic City Campus and Central Campus. In addition to directing, he enjoyed 275 tech theater adventures in scenic design, lighting design, technical direction, and construction.

Neuharth was also the coordinator of the communication arts department for over 25 years, serving on several faculty committees including a term as the Faculty Senate President. He was principal respondent for 20-plus regional university KCACTF productions.

He received the Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching award (2005), a Vision 2013 Merit Award for Humanities (2010), and Teacher of the Year presented by CSTAND (2013). He notes the most humbling acknowledgements he received were being granted full professor and then, after retirement, being named Emeritus.

Arnold Strebe

Strebe currently serves as the Department of Human Services chief administrative officer and as the department’s chief financial officer. He is responsible for leading agency-wide efforts related to administrative functions for the 2200 team members at DHS. He supervises the fiscal administration, human resources, strategic communications, logistics management and legal advisory divisions.

Strebe previously worked for Starion Bank in Bismarck as the bank’s president and chief human resource officer. Prior to that, he was the chief talent and business improvement officer at Evergreen Enterprises and Plow and Hearth, a multinational, multi-million-dollar wholesale, retail and manufacturing business with thousands of employees dispersed across the world. He also served in multiple roles with the Schwan’s corporation, where he led a $240 million sales organization and held various positions, including vice president of manufacturing and vice president of human resources.

He has completed six Ironman competitions and the 2019 Ultra 520k race in Canada. Strebe recently participated in the 70.3 Ironman World Championship in September 2021.

He is an active volunteer in the Bismarck area, serving on multiple boards such as the YMCA, Ronald McDonald House, Northern Plains Dance, the National Guard Foundation, and as race director for the YMCA Youth Triathlon. He strongly believes in helping others who face challenges to improve their lives. Strebe is a former Airborne Ranger and served in the U.S. Army and North Dakota Army National Guard as a non-commissioned and commissioned officer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Minot State and a master’s degree in education from Jones International University.

He and his wife Sigrid (Fiske) are both graduates of MSU and established the Arnie Strebe Scholarship. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Evan Meiers

Meiers, from Ross graduated high school in Stanley where he fostered a talent for the percussive arts. The International Music Camp, located at the International Peace Gardens in North Dakota, was an integral part of his growth through music.

During his undergrad at Minot State, he was active in many musical groups on campus, including; Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, Beaver Athletic Band, Minot Symphony Orchestra, Concert Choir, and Jazz Band. Meiers also won the 2008 Minot State University Senior Honors Competition. He loved attending athletic events and even started a volunteer drumline at MSU.

Meiers started his teaching career 2009 in Lignite, and then settled into a band position in his hometown of Stanley. In 2018, Meiers joined the Minot Public Schools band program and is currently the Minot High School band director. He has taught band at all levels and is also well versed in choral methods and conducting.

In 2014 Meiers had the privilege of his high school band being selected as the 2014-2015 North Dakota Governors Band. He was also selected by his peers to serve on the North Dakota High School Activities Music Advisory Board from 2012-2018.

He enjoys playing in the ever adept and popular Minot Community Band. He is a member of the North Dakota National Bandmasters Association, North Dakota Music Educators Association, Minot Educators Association, and the Percussive Arts Society. Recently Meiers has resurrected the ever-popular Magi Drumline.

Meiers also farms with his family in Blaisdell. He and his wife, Erin, have three daughters.


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