Apr 15th, 2015 @ 4:21 pm | Author: Tisa Mason
I love the month of April. For me it has always been a month of transition and renewal. The weather begins to show signs of spring, while the academic calendar fills with events such as senior recitals, student officer elections, and celebrations of annual accomplishments. But there is even a more important reason why I love April–it is National Volunteer Month, a time to stop and reflect on how much stronger our university and communities are thanks to those who make a difference by giving of their time, talent, and treasure.

VCSU is truly blessed with many difference makers–from a variety of university boards whose members serve VCSU with distinction, to alumni who honor their alma mater through their outstanding service to their professions and communities, and to local residents who support our students and faculty by attending events and in a myriad of other ways. This spirit of giving is even embraced by our students, who collectively contributed 800 community service hours in the Valley City/Barnes County area last year. The blessings are abundant.

As I reflect on the strength of our university through the efforts of our volunteers, many names immediately come to mind, such as the Distinguished Service Award recipients, whose portraits are proudly displayed in McFarland Hall: C. “Van” Vandestreek, Dales Olson, Donald Heimes, Ernest Miedema, Theron Strinden, Russell Hanson, Orville Barber, Herman Stern, Carol (Watson) Peterson, Roger Reierson, Jerry Topp, George Gaukler, Dick Gulmon, Jan Stowman, Mary Lee (Peterson) Nielson, Janet Schultz, Riley Rogers, Ray Braun, Mary Simonson, Jennifer Feist, Steven Welken, and Valley Development Group.

Or how about Dean Pederson, who has received the V-500 Volunteer of the Year Award for three consecutive years! Dean has served on the V-500 Board for 12 years, and in that time he has single-handedly acquired 176 memberships and raised over $215,000 for the V-500 Scholarship Program. There are so many people and companies to thank for making VCSU a strong university.

I am also reminded of the important public purpose that regional state universities fulfill. Known as the people’s university, state regional universities were founded to be stewards of place–investing in our communities and our people. VCSU fulfills that purpose extremely well and in so many ways. A few examples include the work of our Great Plains STEM Education Center, the Prairie Waters Education and Research Center, and the recently formalized Don Mugan Career and Technical Education Leadership Center.

Our faculty, staff, and students also serve as stewards of place through their personal service to many nonprofit and civic groups as well as through their professional leadership.

For instance, James Boe, Ph.D., VCSU director of graduate studies, recently completed a term as the president of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA). In addition to leading the association, he was also responsible for hosting a professional development conference for its members—more than 33,000 teachers across the country. By all accounts it was probably the best conference the association hosted in more than a decade.

Jim will tell you that the past year was both rewarding and challenging. At times navigating both his VCSU position and his volunteer responsibilities was like having two full-time jobs. He will also tell you that success does not happen without a lot of people sharing a vision and the work.

As Margaret Mead said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Thank you Valley City faculty, staff, students, alumni, residents, and friends, for being VCSU difference makers and leaving your mark on the university. We celebrate you during this month of appreciation and recognize that your impact is yet another reason it is a great day to be a Viking!