May 16, 2014, marked the Centennial Commencement Exercises at Minot State University. This distinct graduation was held in the Minot State University Dome at 10 a.m. From a very young age, I have always enjoyed attending graduations. When I was taking piano lessons, I zoomed ahead as soon as possible and learned an easy-play version of "Pomp and Circumstance." I played it so often in our living room that the figurines immediately lined up on our early American maple coffee table wearing their mortarboards.
This centennial commencement at Minot State University was distinct in so many ways. The simple fact that it only happens once in every 100 years was front and center. However, there was so much more to this ceremony. It was impressive to view the hundreds of graduates and to see their excitement - not only for this moment, but for what their future holds now that they had earned their degrees.
This day was also about Dr. David Fuller. Even though he would not want to take attention away from the graduating class, his fine and generous service as president of Minot State was in the air - and rightfully so. My family and I along with many others had the privilege of getting to know David and Nancy Fuller, and our lives are all richer because of their move north 10 years ago.
Minot State University under the direction of Dr. Fuller has been astounding. When I think of his time of service, I am reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Dr. Fuller has given new life to the campus by constant engagement of many elements.
While I served on the Board of Regents, I witnessed his great attention to making sure the smallest details were completed. I do believe one of his greatest abilities is to listen; his grasping ear made sure everyone from students, faculty, staff, community members and beyond were always welcome to share a thought or comment with him. I witnessed this six years ago, when a little 3-year-old girl rode her tricycle to his office, walked up the stairs of the administration building and strolled into his office. She then hopped up on his office sofa, crossed her legs, smoothed her red and plaid jumper and then looked him in the eye and said, "Well, how's it going, Dr. Fuller?" He flashed a great big grin at Lydia and took a moment to visit with this insistent child who wanted to see Dr. Fuller.
His confidence to engage all those who were sincerely interested gave him the advantage to gain many answers to concerns about the campus. He was open to all questions from "Well, how's it going?" to "How should we implement strategies for Vision 2013?"
German Potato Salad
Here is a recipe that many Minot State Students continue to enjoy.
2 cups water
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salt
Pepper to taste
10 pounds red or white potatoes; washed, peeled, sliced and parboiled
6 strips bacon fried crisps and cut into small pieces
1 yellow onion, diced finely
Green onions for garnish, sliced thin
Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. In the bacon fat, saute the onion. In saucepan; boil the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Toss everything together. Garnish with green onions if desired. This can be served warm or cold.
An address was presented by Ms. Lindsey Jean Nelson, a member of the 2014 graduating class. She is a most impressive young lady graduating Summa Cum Laude. In her address, she brought forth the positive direction and insistent leadership Dr. Fuller has given to Minot State University. Nelson was also well aware of the optical blurs that had been sent in Dr. Fuller's direction by the former North Dakota University System chancellor. Her brilliance could see right through to the rich truth of Fuller's vision, and she went to bat against the unfairness.
We are richer because of one of Dr. Fuller's fancies - that is his love for the works of Henry David Thoreau. His willingness to teach and share about the works of Thoreau have been inspiring and will long be remembered. I do believe this quote by Thoreau is fitting for Dr. Fuller. "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals."
Fuller has set the bar high for future university presidents on the greater Great Plains. He has been seen and heard!
Minot State University has also grown in the past 10 years because of the passion and spirit of the first lady of Minot State University - Nancy Fuller. Her attendance at community and Minot State events has been stellar. She was honored at graduation by being called to the stage to receive a lovely bouquet of red roses. As always, she stood with grace and wore a smashing emerald green two-piece, long-sleeved fitted suit featuring a notched collar, black patent leather belt, and the finishing touch was black pumps with a floral swirl!
Thank you, David and Nancy, for your committed service to Minot State University. You both have been simply amazing. Please take with you this Native American prayer as you journey to your next adventure in life.
And the wind said:
"May you be as strong as the oak, yet flexible as the birch; may you stand tall as the Redwood, live gracefully as the willow; and may you always bear fruit all your days on this earth."