Let’s Cook: Service, education, progress

Submitted Photo

Minot State University has long been a place for student organizations and clubs. From new clubs such SWIFT — Students with Interest in Future Technologies — to the more seasoned clubs that crop up like perennials, such as Art Club, Accounting Club, Biology Club, Lutheran Campus Ministry and Intramural Sports to name a few. Minot State University currently offers more than 60 student organizations reflecting the variety of interests of the student population. Many of these organizations are part of the MSU landscape like the flowering crab apple trees that adorn the front of Old Main each spring and have given students the opportunity to enrich their college experience.

Phi Beta Lambda, a professional business fraternity, is marking its 51st year on the campus of Minot State. Installation of the chapter was done by the Dickinson Chapter in the spring of 1971. Dr. Doris Slaaten and John Doering were the original co-advisers. The chapter is affiliated at state and national levels and is officially named Upsilon Sigma. Phi Beta Lambda promotes the advancement of business professions and current business technology.

I had the good luck of being asked to join this fine organization by Doris Slaaten. Throughout the year we had regular meetings, which were all conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order. Doris was a stickler for the meetings to run properly and efficiently; therefore, everyone became familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order. Doris worked with our club to have a competing parliamentary procedure team each spring for the state convention.

Being part of a club can be a wonderful learning experience and this was certainly true for me when I joined Phi Beta Lambda. In time, I became president of the club and also held a state office — all with the encouragement of Doris. It is also thanks to Phi Beta Lambda that I met my wife, Jan.

Doris enjoyed competing against other colleges and universities in the state, and she was not opposed to putting them on the run. She would coach us on how to be the best competitor in our event and it paid off because we came home with some fine awards — not only at state level but at the national conference as well. Her dedication to club members left all of us with lessons for living life well. She taught us to give it our best shot and to compete with confidence. She inspired us to want to practice and study because this would be our best defense against the competition. Her seasoned experience and steadfast devotion motivated us to want to do well.

My wife, Jan, is currently the adviser to Phi Beta Lambda, along with Megan Fixen. What joy it has been to watch her prepare students not only for these competitions, but life in general. I have a feeling Doris is smiling as this tried and true tradition continues.

Our nephew, Tanner Thompson, served as the State President for Phi Beta Lambda this past year. It was a position that required the best within himself. Visiting with him brought back many memories. Many of Tanner’s meetings were done with Zoom due to COVID; however, the fact of connecting and making friends was still present. Tanner graduated this past week from Minot State with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. His Phi Beta Lambda experience on the local and state level will certainly aid him well in his adventures in the business world.

On a personal note, joining this club has brought forth lasting friendships, and these connections have been woven into a beautiful tapestry from the colorful threads of many lives that I still connect to. All of our state meetings were in person and most often Doris, who served as a state adviser, did most of the driving. We journeyed to Bismarck, Carrington and Valley City early in the mornings with hot coffee and plenty of business conversation as our constant side partners. John Berger who was originally from Columbus, North Dakota, served as our State Vice President while I served as the State Historian. Forty years later, John and I still consider the nobility of Phi Beta Lambda an important part of our college education.

I had visited Doris several times when she moved to assisted living and always on her kitchen counter was the hand painted china mug done with beautiful violets that our club had given her as a thank you. It was marked with a special message on the bottom along with “Dr. Slaaten” right above a spray of lavender violets on the front of the mug. She pointed to it and remarked that when selecting things to bring to assisted living, this was a must because it brought back such good memories. It was a special moment, and in true Doris cheerfulness, it reminded why we should choose to belong to organizations that not only inspire but entwine one with the gallantry of lasting friendships.

At the National Convention in Chicago in July, Phi Beta Lambda will announce the rebranding of the organization. A new insignia will replace the tried and true logo — Service, Education, Progress — that is displayed in the photo. We look forward to a new look with an invigorated theme of continuing the excellence in business education.

In selecting a recipe for this column, I am reminded that Doris’ favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie. Tanner has come to enjoy this recipe of rice pudding, as shown.


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