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MSU and MAFB Celebrate 50 Years of Teamwork

Minot State University celebrated its 50th anniversary of serving military members and their families at MAFB on Monday, June 6, 2011. Education officials, students and their families enjoyed cake and ice cream served by MSU’s education staff at MAFB’s Education Center.

In the fall of 1961, the North Dakota Board of Higher Education named J. Bernard Busse, a faculty member of Minot State Teachers College, director of the Extension Service. Continued campus growth and extended field-service operation created the need for a full-time extension service director. Adult education was becoming increasingly important in the 1960s, and MSTC was in a position to contribute to local and regional needs.

Under the new program, Busse was empowered to utilize all available staff, professionally trained faculty and qualified citizens to teach in the program. This broadened MSTC’s reach to the surrounding region and Minot Air Force Base. The program later absorbed qualified airmen to teach as well.

By the spring 1962, airmen of the 906th Refueling Squadron were taking MSTC classes at MAFB. The sessions were eight weeks and available to on-duty and off-duty airmen and dependents. The campus also offered high school courses and evaluations for credit and implemented the newly created Air Force Bootstrap Program. Bootstrap allowed airmen to attend college full-time to finish degree requirements for programs they had not previously completed.

William Foster, base education advisor, and Capt. Terrance O’Brien, Strategic Air Command education project officer, designed a schedule of 10 classes at MSTC. These classes included courses in communications, mathematics, humanities, geography, political science, sociology, education and U.S. history. On-duty classes operated out of the base aircrew Alert Facility. B-52 alert aircrews from the 525th Bomb Squadron, Strategic Air Command, used the same space for classrooms and plotting their "Peace Persuader" missions around the globe.

Today, Minot State University offers 40 to 50 classes per semester and bachelors’ degrees in more than 60 majors. MSU continues to be the only educational provider offering a "full university" within a 10-minute drive, with a fulltime advisor on MAFB. Growth has not tampered the solid relationship between MAFB and MSU. Fifty years and thousands of students later, the team remains strong.

"MSU currently serves over 300 airmen and women in flexible course offerings," Kris Warmoth, dean of The Center for Extended Learning said. "We have continued the tradition by bringing the classroom to the squadron and beyond."