Oct 11th, 2016 @ 8:26 am | Author: Tisa Mason, Ed.D., CAE
Whether going home for the holidays or attending a class reunion, coming home is such a special time to rekindle relationships, share joyful (and sometimes mischievous) memories, and take time to reflect on our growth. A university, like a family, provides roots for that growth. And like a family, there is often a lot of planning, preparation, and heart that surround the tradition of coming home.

Thank you so much to everyone who created a wonderful VCSU homecoming celebration! I loved catching up with alumni such as Hilbert “Si” Seiwert ’42, who has traveled from California to come home to Valley City for more than 20 consecutive years; visiting with our dedicated and gracious alumni president, Greta (Trader) Delparte ’06; and meeting Athletic Hall of Famer Lloyd Joseph ’92, who beamed with VCSU pride and shared many big, authentic hugs! There were so many outstanding people, memories, and relationships to celebrate.

Homecoming also provides us with an extra-special opportunity to recognize our alumni through our award programs. Celebrating their success is very important to us; in fact, if you pay special attention to our mission, our work with our students is not really measured by their success while they are students. Our mission is about preparing our students to be leaders, educators, and engaged citizens. Thus the true measure of our success is how our alumni live their lives after they graduate—how they serve their professions and their communities.

Our award recipients delivered big on our mission! Their accomplishments and generosity were truly inspiring and their impact profound. The stories of their contributions, in large part rooted in the strong relationships developed at VCSU, were recounted over and over again. For example, Dale Hogie ’78, Minnesota Region IV Superintendent of the Year, shared, “The small college atmosphere fostered relationships that continued through the first 20 years of my career.” Sarah (Baertsch) Lutz ’05 said, “I will always remember my teaching professors who took their time to build positive relationships with each of their students. I thrived during my courses because of high expectations, smaller classes, and the love for teaching displayed by each of my professors.” Story after story, memory after memory, tears followed by laughter and vice versa—the stories reaffirmed that the relentless focus of our faculty and staff result in engaged citizens making a difference.

While there are many powerful pathways of college student involvement—undergraduate research, student government and organizations, campus employment, and practicums, among others—one pathway remains very public: that of the student-athlete. When a student chooses to be an athlete, he or she agrees de facto to be a public figure for both celebration and a higher level of scrutiny than most students. We therefore look to our student-athletes to demonstrate our university values by how they practice and play, by how they demonstrate character on and off the field, and by their success in the classroom. Indeed, it is often through the personal stories of athletes that we as human beings seek and find inspiration because their personal stories often involve grit and determination, perseverance, and triumph over adversity. That is why I arrived at my first VCSU Athletic Hall of Fame banquet “on the edge of my seat,” and that’s where I remained as the recipients came forward, humbly accepted their awards, and shared their perspectives on their life journeys. The stories were indeed brimming with inspiration and life-changing moments.

To our alumni, thank you for living your lives with character and generosity, and for demonstrating every day the value of a VCSU degree through your service to your profession and to your local and global communities. To our faculty and staff, thank you for nurturing our students and helping them amplify their talents and strengthen their roots. Together, we deliver on the VCSU promise and make a difference in the world. Coming home makes it an extra-special day to be a Viking!