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2013 Centennial

Casper Lura (1954-67)

Casper Lura was born and raised in Mayville. He completed his undergraduate degree at Mayville State Teachers College. He then taught junior high and high school in the small town of Taylor.

Lura later earned a doctorate from the University of Iowa in 1932. He joined Moorhead State's Education Department and served over the next 15 years as faculty member, dean of men and director of student affairs. In 1947, he became president of Mayville State Teachers College.

In 1954, Lura assumed the same position at Minot State Teachers College. Described as diplomatic and political, he oversaw significant growth during his 13 years of service.

In the second year of Lura's tenure, enrollment achieved the 1,000-student milestone. The president quickly addressed the cramped library housed in Old Main since 1913, which could accommodate only 66 students. Nellie Swanson, who served as librarian from 1939 to 1963, recalled that only 16 inches separated the stacks. "I didn't dare gain a pound," she said. "And why the floor didn't go down in that building I have no idea. Only the good Lord held it up."

A new facility, Memorial Library, was completed in 1959. It had a seating capacity of 250.

Additional dormitory space was added in 1960. Crane Hall, named after the school's first president, provided living space for 145 students. McCulloch Hall, a woman's facility named after Hazel McCulloch, the last of the original 12 faculty members, housed the same number of students. The following year, Cyril Moore Hall, a math and science facility, was added.

The college celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1963. The next year, the school's name was changed to Minot State College, reflecting an expansion of its academic offerings. It offered its first master's degrees in speech correction and education of the deaf.

A decade after Lura assumed control, enrollment reached 1,841. A new football stadium opened in 1964 with a seating capacity of 1,200. Another dormitory, Cook Hall, was added in 1965.

During the tranquil 1950s and '60s, fraternities and sororities dominated the social and political scenes on campus. Although they comprised only a third of the student body, the Greeks acquired a dominant position through control of student government.

During this period, the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement received scant attention in the campus newspaper, The Red and Green. This reflected the college's conservatism and isolation from the rest of the country.

During the Vietnam War, no demonstrations or draft card burnings occurred at Minot State. The only revolt involved James Vizas, a dissident English professor. He and a small cohort of students burned Lura in effigy on the school's front lawn. Vizas' novel, "The Tender and the Green," documented his grievances. An underground newspaper, "The Independent," sprang up at the same time, only to fold after a couple of issues.

Despite the turmoil of the 1960s, Lura's tenure at Minot State was largely trouble free. He retired in 1967.