Skip to content
Be seen. Be heard.

MSU Profiles

Krebsbach is an advocate for students

Every time students at Minot State University utilize the pedagogy lab in Swain Hall, climb the rock wall in the Wellness Center, or escape winter's chill in the walkway spanning the two buildings, they are enjoying the fruits of Sen. Karen (Lysne) Krebsbach's labors.

Krebsbach, a 1961 graduate of Minot State and longtime state senator, has been an integral part of some of the most recent building projects at Minot State. The buildings represent a physical reminder of one of her biggest passions in the state legislature - ensuring student success.

All three projects are a reminder of the hard work Krebsbach has done for Minot, Minot State, and higher education.

"It's rewarding when the process is done right," she said. "Yes, I suppose there is an adrenaline rush when you are in the throes of it and have people countering you, but that only bothers me when they are countering you with untrue facts. The local legislators got together and really saw the benefit of these projects.

"I guess my success in any of this, was the relationships I built up with the other legislators - not just the local ones and not just republicans, but across the state. They know I'm not just here for my game."

"She has a vision for all of North Dakota," Grand Forks senator and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Ray Holmberg said. "She is a superb advocate for Minot and Minot State. She is always there with the facts and figures. Karen advocates for what is good for students, she has a spine - I can't say all legislators do - and stands up for what she believes is right."

Krebsbach's path to becoming an influential legislator started with humble beginnings. She ran three times before being successful on her first public board, a local consumer credit association in Minot.

"The local manager kept encouraging me to run (for the consumer credit association). When he came the third time, I said, ‘No, two times is enough to get defeated,'" she recalled. "But the third time I was successful. That was the beginning of my involvement."

From there, she ran for a couple of local and state boards before taking the opportunity to run for the state legislature. While she felt at the time she was encouraged to run because she was a female, she quickly made a name for herself by her actions.

"I started at a time when women were being asked to be on more boards and I became someone they routinely asked. I've said many times that maybe I was put on as a token, but they quickly found I had a mouth," she said. "I've watched and observed a lot of things and it's not just what you do and what you say, but how you carry things out. I've encouraged women to get involved right from the beginning."

Her work on the boards translated into a ringing endorsement she couldn't pass up. After Chester Reiten vacated his senate seat, he strongly encouraged Krebsbach to run.

"I had some interest and there was a lot of encouragement from friends, not necessarily from family, but from friends and colleagues," Krebsbach said. "I became more interested in politics over time and when Chester - we had worked on the hospital board and Hostfest together - encouraged me, I felt it was time.

"He felt I could do the job for the community. When people asked me if I was filling his shoes, I responded, ‘No, you never fill his shoes. You just try to do the job he left.' That was my encouragement to get into politics."

From there, Krebsbach devoted herself to working for North Dakota and especially her hometown of Minot. Giving back to Minot and Minot State, however, aren't just confined to her work with the legislature, but also include events like the Hostfest, boards such as the MSU Development Foundation and Board of Regents, and local committees.

"Karen is a tremendous supporter of Minot State and is always interested in what is the best outcome for students," MSU President Steven Shirley said. "I have an interesting perspective. I knew Karen from a legislative standpoint when I was president at Valley City State and saw that she was a strong supporter of higher education and our students. In committees and during legislative testimony, she always asks the tough questions. I remember thinking during those days that it would be nice to be in a city where Karen is my representative because I knew she was fighting for Minot and its students. That belief has only solidified since moving here three years ago and having had the opportunity to work closely with her on many initiatives."

Her roots to Minot State started as just a one-year secretarial course. She ended up with a degree in teaching and a lifelong passion for MSU.

"I finished the one-year course and was doing okay, working part time, but thought I might as well keep going," Krebsbach said. "I did a two-year secretarial course and, after that, decided to continue. I graduated with a teaching degree and, while I didn't end up teaching in a classroom, I feel I've used those skills a lot.

"I developed strong relationships in the sorority (Delta Epsilon Phi) I was in and really enjoyed that time. I had some wonderful teachers here like Doris Slatten. I had a lot of fun."

Krebsbach will continue her work in an ever-changing political and economic climate in North Dakota and will continue to work as an advocate of Minot State and for students in general.

"The best thing we have done over the past couple of years is to create the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund," she said of the state's matching grant for the advancement of academics at institutions of higher education. "I've seen universities come alive because of that program.

"There have been a lot of changes in North Dakota. I've been involved in a time when we didn't have much money, to a time where we did, and now, again to a time where we don't. We are still considered a wealthy state, not just because of dollars and cents, but because of the people who call this great state home."