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Be seen. Be heard.
Back Row, Left to Right: Dr. Steven Shirley, Tyler Mack, Tonya Hunskor, Becky Keller, Shannon Krueger, Kevin Harmon. Front Row, Left to Right: Jennifer Anderson, Cassie Bethke, Julie Smesrud, Lisa Olson.

MSU Profiles

President completes fall tour

MINOT, N.D. - Beginning in early September, Minot State University President Dr. Steven Shirley made it a goal to connect with regional high schools.

By the middle of December, he completed his 40th school visit, making stops at nearly every school within a two-hour radius.

"It's been a wonderful opportunity to get out and discuss common issues between K-12 and higher education," Shirley said. "We discussed areas where we can continue to partner and also explored additional possibilities where we might be able to expand our relationships."

Justin Stanley, Principal at Harvey High School, was impressed with the scope of the tour and how Shirley and Minot State looked to local administrators to connect with important issues facing K-12.

"I was highly impressed that the president of the university was making personal visits to schools to have conversations how we (Harvey High School and Minot State) can help one another," Stanley said. "I was incredibly impressed with their plan to personally go into the regional schools and ask the questions that will move education forward. To date, I have yet to see any other university representatives that hold those particular positions do anything similar. I commend those efforts. With that said, I hope we can create a collaborative relationship moving forward."

Visits included meetings with various high school superintendents, principals, counselors, teachers, and coaches. The visits also included stops with community leaders, Minot State alumni, a trip to United Tribes Technical College and Sitting Bull College, and a youth clinic by the MSU men's basketball team while in Parshall.


Minot State Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin Harmon joined Shirley on all of the visits. He felt the tour fit perfectly into Goal 5 of Minot State's new Strategic Plan: Empowering Generations.

"Goal 5 is to foster and grow collaborative partnerships locally, regionally, nationally, and globally," Harmon said. "The President's Tour of High School and Colleges allowed us to connect with school superintendents, principals, counselors, and our alumni teaching in area schools. We learned a great deal about the issues and challenges facing area schools and, more importantly, how Minot State University can partner with the high schools in our backyard to serve their students and faculty."

While MSU's mission has significantly expanded beyond being a Normal School, Minot State's teacher education roots in western and north central North Dakota continue as well. Shirley was happy to see so many Minot State alumni in various roles at area schools.

"It was great seeing Minot State alumni coaching, teaching, and leading these schools," he said. "Northwestern and north central North Dakota remains an area where a lot of our students come from, and our connection to those communities needs to be as strong and robust as it can be.

"Because of that, this has been time well spent connecting with these school districts in their communities."

The tour spanned 17 different dates and 2,700 miles in September, October, November, and December. The President's Tour visited Watford City along with United Tribes Technical College and Sitting Bull College in September. South Prairie, Minot High, Our Redeemer's Christian School, Velva, Bishop Ryan, Tioga, Ray, Williston, Surrey, Nedrose, Des Lacs, Berthold, Bottineau, Stanley, Parshall, New Town and Westhope were visited in October. November continued with stops in TGU-Towner, Devils Lake, Rugby, Garrison, Hazen, Beulah, Underwood, Drake, Harvey, and Carrington. December concluded the fall schedule with visits to Glenburn, Newburg, Mohall, Bowbells, Kenmare, Max, Washburn, McClusky, Turtle Lake, and TGU-Granville.

"We were really able to listen to the unique needs of each school which will require some creativity as we plan together to serve their students and teachers," Harmon added. "We now have a better understanding of where our students are coming from and have strengthened an already strong partnership between administrators in K-12 schools and Minot State University."

The tour will conclude with a couple final visits after the New Year including a planned visit to the Bismarck/Mandan area. To schedule a visit, please contact Harmon at or by phone at (701) 858-3140.