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Minot State, Eads release new Alma Mater

MINOT, N.D. – Minot State University director of choral activities Emerson Eads has released an updated version of the University’s Alma Mater, with lyrics from a poem by one of Minot State’s original 12 faculty members, Huldah Lucile Winsted.

The Minot State University Alma Mater made its debut at the Board of Regents Fall meeting in September, and Eads hopes it will be performed at multiple Minot State events.

“We plan to sing it at the end of each of our vocal performances with alumni encouraged to sing along,” Eads said. “The hope is that it will eventually be sung during multiple events, especially at athletic events. I believe it is an important part of the school, it’s talking about the school, the alma mater. It stirs the heart.”

One of the first areas of research Eads did when arriving at Minot State from Notre Dame this past summer was to learn the fight song and the alma mater. He found very little information on the latter until working with MSU history professor Bethany Andreasen.

“Bethany unearthed the poem by Winsted and even sang it to me,” Eads said. “It was set to an awful tune, but the poem is so moving and stirring, it really sang itself.”

Winsted was one of the original 12 instructors hired at the Normal School at Minot, Minot State’s first name. She became the first librarian after donating much of her collection to form the first library, taught geography, served as the registrar, class adviser, and dean of women.

But it was her penchant for writing, including four books – one on geography and three poetry collections – that earned her the title of poet laureate. Her “North Dakota Land of Sky and Other Poems” was published in 1927 and includes 82 poems devoted to subjects ranging from North Dakota landscapes to the progress of women in the arts. Winsted is also credited with choosing the university’s red and green colors based off the beautiful red geraniums blooming outside her office window.

“I’m not exactly sure when, but (Winsted) wrote the words for the song. It was definitely when the institution was still a normal school,” Andreasen said. “She modified the words at least twice because of the changes in the name of the institution, hiring of a new president, and other factors.”

For Eads, taking the poem and updating the music wasn’t a long process.

“I set it on my piano first and then played it for the (choir) to see if they liked it,” he said. “Coming from Notre Dame where I went from not being a sports guy at all to being really moved the first time I saw the (football) players up with the students, arm-in-arm, I felt it was important for us to have. Once I got here and was working on it, I realized that when I walk outside for a sunrise or a sunset, the vastness of the plains is breathtaking.”

While Eads is hoping the song will catch on like its counterpart at Notre Dame, he knows traditions aren’t forced but embraced.

“(Minot State Athletic Director Andy Carter) said something really significant in a meeting. He said they are completely behind it and will play it at games, but it won’t be called a tradition until 50 years from now. It’s not a tradition unless it’s a tradition,” Eads said. “It will catch on or it won’t. I understand that. My hope is that it does.”

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Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 10/11/18



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