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100 birthday 

         Read reminiscences of 1980s grads


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Advocate cartoon on cost-cutting and technology.

don engberg
After 16 years at MSU as a counselor and Registrar, Don Engberg retired.  His advice to future administrators who would face fluctuating enrollments -- "don't take every change too seriously, or it will kill you."

Deborah Rockman's "Father and Child," featured in the MSU Art Department's catalog for the school's 100th anniversary (click to view the department catalog selections).


new logo

Designed for the school's centennial, the new Dragon logo was introduced in 1986 (see Continews story).


In 1986, Special Education professor Norm Buktenica carved this wooden sculpture from roots of an oak tree planted in 1889 by the first president of Moorhead Normal School, donating the art to the University as part of its Centennial.


youngquist old main
Old Main, the original building of the Moorhead Normal School (1887-1920) was the subject of Jack Youngquist's pen-and-ink print, produced for the university's Centennial celebration in 1987.


100 party dress
MSU's 100th birthday bash including a costume contest in which students and faculty represented various decades of the school -- at the right: Dr.  Robert Davies, as Livingston Lord.


gershwin cover
MSU's Centennial celebration included a celebrity concert
in November, 1986, and a specially commissioned symphony written by renowned composer Loris Tjeknavorian  (see program of the performance by Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra).





Continue to 1990s timeline

TIMELINE    (**some linked documents require Adobe software to read)


January, 1985 -- Students were saddened to learn that the Moon-Lite Drive-in Theater, south of Moorhead, will soon close.

February, 1985 -- Campus security investigates two dormitory fires caused by burning paper towels in trash bins.  Housing Director Mike Pehler fears that these "might be cases of arson" but finds few facts to determine the truth.

March, 1985 -- In response to persistent publicity that tightly sealed homes will have "dangerous pockets of radon gas," MSU chemist Dennis Mathiason completes study of the subject for the Minnesota Department of Energy, which finds "insignificant" amounts of radon in all types of homes and buildings in the region.

April, 1985 -- MSU administration studies changes in logo and image, in preparation for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the college.

May, 1985 -- As 700 students prepare to graduate, many comment that "finishing college in four years is not as easy as it used to be," due to higher costs, off-campus jobs, and delays in completing the number of required courses.

September, 1985 -- Good news greets returning students and faculty as enrollment rises to over 7500 for Fall quarter.

October, 1985 -- Students at the Student Union Programming Board (SUPB) debate whether or not music with "explicit lyrics" can be played at campus functions in the Wooden Nickel, auditorium, etc.

November, 1985 -- National Alcohol Awareness Week is marked by having "six campus celebrities" (faculty) "intoxicate themselves to the point of illegality" at the CMU to demonstrate the effects of drinking.

November, 1985 -- Students enrolled in an introductory astronomy complain to the Student Senate that the course is "poorly taught" and the instructor "unfair in expectations" for a passing grade.  They ask for Senate support in "getting a tuition refund." (See "Students as Customers" on this growing trend).

November, 1985 -- With students paying more for college and working more off campus, the managers of the Student Union begin planning for changes in services.

December, 1985 -- Concerned about the "attrition" rate of freshmen, MSU begins a study of ways to lower the drop-out rate. The rate was 28% in 1983, 25% in 1984.  One early result of the study suggests that the "geographic isolation" of Fargo-Moorhead is a major contributor to the problem.

January, 1986 -- In an op-ed letter to the Fargo Forum, MSU President Roland Dille disputes an article which suggested that political candidates "closely aligned with Moorhead State University" are too liberal to represent the local community.  "I would say that the people of Moorhead elect public servants on the basis of the candidates' abilities," Dille asserts, pointing out the Moorhead State faculty who have served terms in city and county government.

February-March, 1986 -- As Spring term gets underway, fraternities and sororities at MSU become concerned that more and more students show little interest in joining Greek societies.  "We offer connections and chances for community service," notes a spokesperson, "but off-campus jobs and other activities are reducing our memberships."

April, 1986 -- The University considers adding a "legal assistance" service to the campus. "We could help with landlord issues, consumer issues and DUI problems," notes a campus representative, "but there may be a potential for liability as a result of university sponsorship of such service.  Things are more complicated now."

May, 1986 -- As graduation preparations are underway, visiting professor Andrew Conteh of Political Science is named Professor of the Year by popular vote of the students.  "A lot of us hope he will get a permanent appointment," a student tells the Advocate.

September, 1986 -- The Homecoming Committee announces that it will revive the practice of electing a "Homecoming King and Queen," for the first time since 1969.

October, 1986 -- Under a new scholarship program created by the State University System, students from "disadvantaged farm families" in Minnesota can receive free tuition for up to six credits, for up to three quarters of classes at any of the state universities.  This "family farm scholarship program" was passed at the urging of Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich to help "farm families suffering from the economic displacement" of the 1980s.

November, 1986 -- Students protest when MSU concludes "an exclusive contract" with Pepsico Inc. to sell only Pepsi products in the universities pop machines.  Non-Pepsi soft drinks are only available at the Deli and Et Cetera Shop in Kise Commons.  Food Services manager Dave Souba acknowledges that the Pepsi-exclusive arrangement is unpopular with most students -- "hands down, Diet Coke is the most popular selling cola."  The Pepsico contract will not be renewed after two years.

December, 1986 -- MSU counselors at Hendrix Health undertake a major effort to deal with a growing problem among women students -- "bulimia is becoming a nightmare with young women," and the University schedules workshops and studies to address the dangers.

January, 1987 -- MSU begins an ambitious $3 million fundraiser to accompany its Centennial Celebration (read fundraiser brochure).

February, 1987 --  Once again, the Faculty Senate passes a resolution that college faculty "should be evaluated by students, and that the results be made public to assist students in their choice of classes."

March, 1987 -- Construction of new third and fourth floors of the University Library nears completion, but student focus is more on news that MSU "ranks last among NIC teams in financial support of student athletes."

April, 1987 -- Noting that current enrollment trends are "defying the grim projections of the early 1980s," Registrar John Tandberg predicts that MSU enrollment will grow to about 9000 students within a few years. 

May, 1987 -- MSU holds a special convocation to mark its 100th anniversary (see convocation program).  The college also hosts a "grand banquet fundraiser" as part of the 100th anniversary celebration (see the banquet program/menu).

September, 1987 -- Enrollment reaches another record with over 8300 students.  The count did not include several dozen high school students who could take college courses through the state's Post-Secondary Options program.

October, 1987 -- Returning to MSU to be part of the school's 100th homecoming, former president John  Neumaier tells a group of students that encouraging a "liberal education isn't always easily accepted by a community."

November, 1987 -- The remodeled lowest level of the Student Union opens its doors as "The Underground," a dance- and (non-alcohol) night-club.  The Underground will host 23,000 patrons in two years.

December, 1987 -- Students are saddened to learn that the Federal Government will reduce funding for loans and Pell grants in 1988.

January, 1988 -- MSU administration considers replacing the quarter system for classes with a semester system.  The Tri-College program (with NDSU switching to semesters and Concordia using the system) suggests that a transition to semesters could preserve current enrollments.  The issue is tabled after discussions.

February, 1988 -- MSU Library collection of law journals  is damaged by theft of $2600 worth of microfiche.  The culprit is never determined.

April, 1988 -- MSU wrestling team finishes winning season with four team members qualifying for the NAIA national tournament and one member (Steve Richard) as the division's Most Valuable Wrestler.

May, 1988 -- With commencement, MSU concludes its 20th year with Roland Dille as President.  Admissions applications suggest that the university will have over 9000 students in another year.

September, 1988 -- MSU begins a $1.7 million renovation of the Student Union.  Plans to change the traditional dormitory are also under consideration; faculty and administrators agree that the "student of the 1990s" will expect large dorm rooms (or suites) with advanced telecommunications (TCP/IP) access to the merging 'internet.'

October, 1988 -- A twelve-member, faculty task force begins the tendentious process of revising the Liberal Arts Requirements for graduation.  With "fully 25 percent of the MSU students as good as any at Minnesota's private colleges, we want to update our education model for the future," comments task force member Ken Smemo.

November, 1988 -- Women's sports athletic director Mary Curtis sparks controversy by telling newscasters that "I've been patient for five and a half years, but we have yet to achieve equality for women's sports."

December, 1988 --  MSU's Advocate marks the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights with commentary on the document's history and contents by guest columnist Andrew Conteh (follow link to UN Declaration).

January, 1989 -- Marking the thirty years since rock star Buddy Holly died in 1959, killed in an accident while en route to a concert in Moorhead, MSU holds a concert of classic pop music.

February, 1989 -- A major influenza epidemic hits campus, delaying classes and exams.  Medical personnel note that "lack of sleep," due to off-campus jobs, has made this year's flu outbreak among students more serious.

March, 1989 -- "Copies Plus" opens in Student Union, offering copy service to students and packets of readings/study guides for selected campus courses.

April, 1989 -- A proposal to expand the MSU campus to the west and north leads to numerous meetings with property holders.  Negotiations for acquiring properties will take over a year.

May, 1989 -- MSU's Special Task Force unveils its draft for revising the Liberal Arts requirements.  Among the major changes -- alternatives for meeting the mathematics requirements, more communications courses and an end to most cross-disciplinary courses.

September, 1989 -- Enrollment passes 9000 as classes begin; revised admission requirements mandate that each student admitted has scored 21 or more on the ACT examination, or have graduated in the upper half of his/her high school class.

October, 1989 -- MSU graduate James Ellingson (1962) is named Minnesota Teacher of the Year by the State Education Association.

November, 1989 -- Students, faculty, and administrators begin a protracted discussion regarding the University's future.  With proposals being made in St. Paul to remodel the State University system, with enrollment topping 9000 and more expected in 1990, with the 100th anniversary completed, how should MSU prepare for the future.  Renaming MSU as Minnesota State University-Moorhead; becoming a campus of the University of Minnesota; capping enrollment; expanding the campus with new construction; expansion by "virtual classes" and online classes; all will be debated in the coming decade.  "Enrollments and future funding from the state," note MSU President Dille, "will decide most of these matters."

December, 1989 -- Following complaints from women students and some faculty, MSU Vice-president Roland Barden asks departments and offices to remove mistletoe as holiday decorations.  "It's an end to an era," comments the Advocate.

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