HAVRE - Tuesday marked the 90-year anniversary of Montana State University–Northern in Havre becoming an institution. The university opened its doors in September of 1929, going by the name Northern Montana College.
Nine decades later, a lot has changed. People come from all over Montana to attend the university, to get what University Chancellor Greg Kegel calls “more than an education.”
“First and foremost, with most students, they’re looking at us in a way to improve their quality of life, so that’s why their investing in their education,” said Kegel. “The opportunities that those students will have when they leave here with a degree, I always call it ‘The Ticket’, I talked to the freshman experience class yesterday and I was telling them, ‘the thing you gotta do is persist. You got to do that. You got to challenge yourself and make sure that you stay with this thing. That when you leave here you leave with The Ticket.’ And that would be for any student at any university but especially here at Northern because you’ve got an advantage right now where we’ve got 10 jobs for every graduate. You can select the right place for you. You get the degree, you get the ticket, the industry wants you. You know that’s the thing, as far as the student coming in, I think every one of them when they come through here that’s what they want. They want to be able to say, ‘you know I can select the type of job that I want, and the job is there for me.’”
Kegel and Dean of Students Steve Wise have spent years working on ways to improve the university, both for its current student and faculty and its future ones. This week, however, was a week for celebration.
After 90 years of hard work and improvements, the Festival Days committee saw it fitting to honor MSU – Northern at their parade this past weekend. Students and faculty walked, sat on floats and cheered in the parade as Montana residents from Havre and other towns came to celebrate the occasion.
"I think celebration is always important and I kind of always look for reasons to celebrate,” said Wise. “When the 90th year came along, the Chancellor and I talked about that and others on campus talked about that and we said yeah that’s a nice reason to celebrate. Sometimes you need a reason to celebrate, and that’s what’s pretty exciting to me about it. Of course, the festival has been a part of Havre for a long time, and we’re just going to remind people during the festival that this is the 90th year, and together we’ve really accomplished a lot of good things for Havre and for the Hi-Line over these 90 years so that's what we’re about.”
Kegel said that starting this year there will be a countdown to the anniversary every year up to the 100 year anniversary in 2029. While 100 years may be a relatively short-term goal, both Kegel and Wise already have their sights set on what they hope is an even better next 90 years.
“You know we’re very proud of the fact that we’re claiming we’re the number one school in the state of Montana,” Kegel said. “Taking a student from here and getting them to the top, that upward mobility thing. I think with that, what I’d like to see in the next 100 years is a campus that students are coming to because of that. They know that this is the one institution that they can go to to fulfill the dream of being at that point in their life, and we’re doing a good job. We’re setting, right now Steve and I, have done a lot of work talking about what it takes with student life, you know that component, we always call it the other 50 percent that’s outside of the academic part, that students are coming to a school for. So, we’re doing a good job of making sure that we have the right amount of tutoring, the right amount of advising, that we're following students to make sure that they’re getting what they need, whether they know what it is or not, that we’re there for them.”
The Festival over the weekend kicked off a week full of celebrations for the university and for the town. The parade this weekend celebrated the anniversary, which was actually on Tuesday, and on top of that, this week was American Indian Heritage Week at MSU-N .
The University invites alumni, fans and friends to share their memories of Montana State University – Northern with the hashtag #90YearsofNorthern.