MSU Moorhead Celebrates Dragon Pride at Homecoming & Presidential Inauguration

Minnesota State University Moorhead will celebrate dragon pride during its annual homecoming celebration Sept. 22-28 with a wide variety of student, alumni and community events to coincide with the presidential inauguration of Anne Blackhurst.

Kicking off the week is a community block party 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22 on the campus mall. There will be food, games, art and music by Heart & Soul.

Pres. Anne will put on her running shoes for Laps for the Long Run at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24 at Nemzek stadium. To date, $1.12 million has been pledged for this fundraiser to benefit student scholarships. Alumni, faculty and staff, students, community members, and others can register to run alongside Anne or attend the event to cheer all on the runners. Details can be found at

Distinguished alumni being honored this week will talk about “Lessons Learned” to students and community members at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25 in the Center for the Arts Gaede Stage.

The presidential inauguration of Anne Blackhurst is at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26 followed by a reception. Both events will be in the Center for the Arts. A viewing party will be held on the campus mall.

The homecoming parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 and is followed by tailgating and the 2 p.m. football game against Sioux Falls.

An academic symposium, a chili feed competition, ribbon-cutting of the remodeled library, and home soccer and volleyball games, plus many more activities cap off the week-long festivities.

For details on homecoming events visit For details on inauguration events visit

Scheels supports MSUM’s Laps for the Long Run with $1 million pledge

A fundraising challenge at Minnesota State University Moorhead has attracted its first major gift with a $1 million pledge from Scheels. The challenge, Laps for the Long Run, was announced Aug. 20 as an event in honor of the inauguration of MSUM Pres. Anne Blackhurst.  Blackhurst will run 12.5 miles, or 50 laps, around the Ron Masanz track at Nemzek Fieldhouse and has personally pledged $1,000 per lap, or $50,000, to start the challenge.

Today, Steve Scheel, CEO of Scheels, accepted the challenge by pledging $20,000 per lap for every lap up to 50 that Blackhurst runs during the Homecoming Week event.

“SCHEELS has been a good partner with NDSU and Concordia over the years and we look forward to partnering with MSUM and President Blackhurst, to help MSUM become a stronger player in our community of Fargo-Moorhead,” said Steve Scheel.

Steve Scheel, CEO of Scheels, pledged $20,000 per lap for every lap up to 50 that MSUM Pres. Anne Blackhurst runs during the Homecoming week event, Laps for the Long Run.

Blackhurst, an avid long distance runner in training for her ninth marathon, began her presidency July 1 and Laps for the Long Run will recognize the beginning of her term by raising money for donor-selected university projects.

“It was just one week ago that we issued a public challenge for Laps for the Long Run and now we have this tremendous support from one of the region’s most respected businesses. I am honored,” Blackhurst said. “Building partnerships with regional businesses is one of my most important priorities. The businesses in this area look to MSUM for well-prepared graduates and, in turn, this pledge from Scheels shows how the private sector continues to support the university and its students.”

Pledges to Laps for the Long Run can be designated by donors for specific purposes. Blackhurst designated her pledge to support new scholarships for high achieving high school students, the President’s Merit Endowed Scholarships. Scheels has designated their gift to support improvements at Nemzek Field.

“SCHEELS and athletics seem to go hand in hand, and we are pleased to be able to help build Dragon athletics by providing an all-weather turf field for the MSUM football field,” Scheel said.

“We absolutely believe that MSUM and Dragon Athletics are an important part of our regional community,” said Doug Peters, MSUM’s Athletic Director. “This investment and partnership with Scheels let’s us know they stand beside us as we continue to serve our region.”

Laps for the Long Run will start at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 24. Pledges can be made at

SCHEELS will have stores in 11 states including North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Nevada, Illinois, Utah; with new stores in Overland Park, Kansas and Rochester, Minnesota to open in 2015. The store, which opened in 2008 in the Reno/Sparks, Nevada market, is the World’s Largest All Sports Store to date.


MSUM’s fall semester kicks off with Welcome Week Aug. 20 – 24

Fall classes for Minnesota State University Moorhead’s 2014-15 academic year begin Monday, August 25.

Welcome Week for incoming freshmen and transfer students is Aug. 20 – 24. MSUM puts on one of the most extensive orientation week programs.

“Dragon Welcome Week really gives students an all-around experience that encompasses various activities and events,” Mitch Johnson, the assistant director of First Year Programs said. “We have everything from a comedian, to a dance, to a Saturday-Night-Live-type show put on by our Student Orientation Counselors – SOCs as we call them – with much more in between. We make sure to pack our days full of activities to keep our students busy, help them get involved, and really feel at home in the Dragon community.”

For a list of all Welcome Week events, visit

MSUM alums find work at Medora

By Meghan Feir

When many people think of North Dakotan terrain, they often forget about the landscape surrounding Medora. Nestled in the heart of the badlands, the little village is the summer home of tourists and performers alike. A breathtaking view, flat, farm country is replaced with canyons and buttes painted in red and purple.

For three MSUM alums, living and working in Medora for the summer has not dulled the awe that comes from gazing at their surroundings, and every night, Carl Rottman, Carolyn Schmitz and Matthew Dietzler help put on one of North Dakota’s biggest tourist attractions – the Medora Musical.

Carolyn Schmitz, a 2013 MSUM theatre graduate is one of 12 performers who make the Medora stage come alive with song and dance. This is Schmitz’ second, consecutive year of performing during the summer for the Medora Musical.

“Doing the show every night, you experience a lot of different audience members,” Schmitz said. “On a Tuesday, you could have a small audience, but on a Saturday, there will be almost 2,000 people in that crowd cheering you on and having a great time. That’s been one of the most positive experiences – getting to interact with those types of crowds on a daily basis.”

Without the proper training, performing every night can wear on a person’s vocal stamina. Schmitz thanks her MSUM voice instructors, Jenny Dufault and Julie Adams, for teaching her how to maintain vocal health.

“I just want to thank them for teaching me to use my instrument in a healthy way that’s going to help me prolong my career,” Schmitz said.

Music industry graduate Matthew Dietzler joined Schmitz and Rottman in being a part of the Medora crew as an audio engineer and has enjoyed the opportunity to help produce the country inspired entertainment show.

Dietzler, who moved back to Fargo after a yearlong stint in Texas after graduating in 2012 from MSUM, was considering going back to the Lone Star State for work, but a call from Medora changed his mind.

During a visit to Medora last summer, Dietzler connected with the audio engineer. “If I hadn’t talked to and gotten to know the engineer, I would not be here right now. It’s amazing what an impact your career can have by just talking to somebody.”

Dietzler also credits his time at MSUM and professor Ryan Jackson for not only teaching him the basics of the music industry but for showing him how powerful connecting with others can be. “Had I not had the time at MSUM, I don’t think I would’ve been successful. Ryan Jackson is such an awesome individual,” Dietzler said. “I learned a lot from him by getting to know him and being in class.”

Carl Rottman, the stage manager of the musical, graduated in 2013 with a theatre arts degree. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the light and sound cues, makes sure that everyone is on time and that the artistic vision of the director is maintained throughout each show. It is Rottman’s first season at Medora, and the most enjoyable aspect of his job has been the people he works with every day.

“The cast is fantastic. The backstage crew has been everything that I could’ve hoped and dreamed for, and the band is fantastic,” Rottman said. “Those have been the most enjoyable things, besides the view. The view of the badlands is second to none.”

Rottman and Schmitz had never heard of the Medora Musical until attending MSUM. 

“A lot of people had mentioned the Medora Musical, and I came from the Twin Cities, so I was like, ‘What’s that?’” Rottman said. “After my time at MSUM, I learned more about it, and I finally decided to apply.”

Rottman, who was a part of three seasons with the Straw Hat Players, said that being a part of the summer theatre troupe was invaluable. “If I hadn’t done Straw Hat, I wouldn’t have been nearly as prepared to do this job as I was.”

Although the three friends never have a night off from performing, managing and controlling the sound all summer, each of them said they would love to come back, if that’s where life leads them.

“This is a family friendly reviewed show. You get everything from the ‘30s to modern-day country, so it appeals to all ages,” Schmitz said. “There’s even a stuffed bear that walks across the stage.”

If the stuffed bear isn’t enough to pique your interest, consider this: Many of the band members have performed with big acts, like The Beatles and Prince. So even if country music isn’t your proverbial cup of tea, the energy exuding from the stage will grasp your attention.

The Medora Musical runs every night at 7:30 p.m. until Sept. 6. For tickets, call 1-800-Medora-1 for tickets, or visit online at

MSUM graduates start ‘Hack Fargo’

Justin Tuchek and Sri Kadimisetty on winning team at Startup Weekend

No talk; all action.

This phrase encompasses the idea behind Fargo’s Startup Weekend, which was held March 8-9 at the Fargo Theater. Over 90 students and professionals were present at the event.

Justin Tuchek and Sri Kadimisetty, MSUM computer science students who graduated in May, participated in Startup Weekend.

This word cloud, found on Hack Fargo’s website, contains the words most commonly heard during a police dispatch call.

“Startup Weekend is this event for developers, designers and the spirited entrepreneur,” Tuchek said. “The event is to raise the entrepreneurial spirit in town; to get things kick-started here.”

Tuchek and Kadimisetty finished the event on the winning team, Hack Fargo. The team’s idea was simple and straightforward: to create a platform to make public city data more accessible.

“We take government data that’s kind of trapped and we … make it into a format that can be easily used for apps or some kind of mobile service,” Kadimisetty said.

The team targeted just one set of data during the 54-hour competition – police dispatch calls in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Though the calls are public record, there was no real beneficial use for the information – that is, until Hack Fargo came along.

“One cool thing that we could do is potentially map crime against light bulbs out at streetlights,” Tuchek said. “Is there a correlation between having burnt out lights and an increase in crime from the dispatch logs?”

Tuchek and Kadimisetty probably know the answer, and plan on letting others know through continued work on the project.

Although the event is over, all eight members of Hack Fargo intend on moving forward with the project. The winners of Startup Weekend were provided with a prize package to help them start their business, including: three hours of mentorship through Emerging Prairie; $500 for the setup of an LLC or LLP; legal assistance; and the opportunity to speak at One Million Cups in Fargo.

“We want to be the framework for a movement, so we want others to build off of service we provide,” Kadimisetty said.

Tuchek says working with community professionals during Startup Weekend was definitely a “fast learning curve,” but the experience has been a great benefit.

“It’s a great way to get involved in your community and to see what’s being actively done and who’s actively involved with it,” Tuchek said.

For now, Tuchek and Kadimisetty are focused on entering the workforce, but still plan on devoting time to Hack Fargo.

“As long as we have free time on our hands and are motivated enough, we can keep this going,” Kadimisetty said.

Other members of Hack Fargo include: Blaine Booher, Clifton Labs; Shane White, OnSharp and Midwest Streams; Zachary Tracy; Flo Sauvageau; David Lannoye, Microsoft; and Michael Ressl, Hard Charge.

Visit team Hack Fargo’s website at or follow them on Twitter: @HackFargo.

MSUM percussionists perform with 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning composer, John Luther Adams

This past weekend, 11 percussionists from the MSUM Percussion Studio traveled with Dr. Kenyon Williams to Duluth, Minn., to perform “Inuksuit,” an epic outdoor work composed by Alaskan composer John Luther Adams. While in Duluth, they attended a concert featuring works by Adams as well as a world-premier composition written for the occasion.

After the recital, the students received the opportunity to work closely with the composer as he coached the gathered performers on how to best perform “Inuksuit” the following morning.

At the performance, Adams continued to work side-by-side with the students and the performers gathered, tailoring the piece to the environment it was performed in. After returning to MSUM, the ensemble learned that Adams had received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for 2014. Congratulations to Adams, and to the MSUM students who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with a composer of his stature!

Analyzing Risks

Actuarial science program prepares students for global internships

Actuary is the number one career in America according to Actuaries analyze financial costs of risk and uncertainty, and use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur to help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk.

Students at Minnesota State University Moorhead can receive their degree in mathematics with an emphasis in actuarial science. One of the many perks to studying actuarial science at MSUM is 100 percent job placement after graduation.

According to, “employment of actuaries is expected to grow 27 percent between now and 2020. Students with internship experience who have passed at least one actuarial exam while in school should have the best prospects for entry-level positions.” Continue reading

Move It and Lose It

Reframing perceptions about exercise

With obesity affecting more than 78 million adult Americans in 2013, there is no question a need for practicing healthier habits has arisen.

Emily Bublitz, a Dragon Mentor and senior at MSUM, will be showcasing her presentation “Move It and Lose It: Can Reframing Exercise Increase One’s Intentions to Work Out?” at this year’s Student Academic Conference on April 15. In her presentation, she will use the theory of planned behavior to support her main argument that retraining the way your brain perceives exercise can support healthy endeavors in the long run. Continue reading

Making Strides

Physics student scores prestigious internship in fuel cell lab
2014 Student Academic Conference presenter

Half a world away, a young Iwnetim (Tim) Abate dreamed of a world free from global warming.

Years later, Abate is taking part in making his dream a reality.

The junior physics major at MSUM is making strides in the field of physics and engineering. Abate, an international student from Ethiopia, is already making a name for himself, scoring prestigious internships and winning major awards in his field.

The last two summers, Abate interned at the California Institute of Technology, working under Sossina Haile in her fuel cell lab.

“When I was working there I was exposed to a new kind of engineering,” Abate said. “Now I want to do it in the future.”

Abate worked on creating a fuel cell that is more efficient than those currently used, ultimately reducing emissions altogether.

“Solid oxide fuel cells are a kind of fuel cell which converts chemical energy to electrical energy,” Abate said. “They have zero carbon dioxide or toxic emission so they are environmentally friendly devices.”

Energy efficiency strikes close to home for Abate, whose home country is constantly struggling to maintain the flow of energy.

“There are still cities in my country where they don’t have electricity for days,” Abate said. “I want to be a part of the people who will make my country self-sufficient in energy.”

Abate is diligently working toward his goal. In addition to his impressive internships, Abate is presenting his research at this year’s Student Academic Conference at MSUM on April 15.

“I just want to share how science is beautiful,” he said. “If you have some solution to global warming, it can help the whole world.”

He said his foundation in science came from his education in Ethiopia, but is being solidified through his education at MSUM.

“I’m learning the principles at MSUM,” Abate said. “They offer them in a way that you’re able to apply them.”

And it is because of MSUM that Abate was able to continue his education in the U.S.

“I pay cheap, but the experience I’m getting out of (MSUM) isn’t,” Abate said.

Abate will also be presenting two other research projects at the Student Academic Conference. He has been working with professor Ananda Shastri of the Physics Department, and professor Damiano Fulghesu of the Mathematics Department to develop his research in the two fields.

To participate in the Student Academic Conference, submit your application by Feb. 28, 2014. Please email questions to

For more information on the Student Academic Conference, visit

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the school you love

Last year’s student speaker and scholarship recipient, Amie Nowacki.

MSU Moorhead Founders Scholarship Gala set for Feb. 14.

For 125 years MSUM has impacted the lives of students, making our community, region and world a better place. Helping students succeed and find their passion is part of the university’s mission and is ingrained in MSUM’s heritage. Contributing to the Founders Scholarship is one more way faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university show support for students.

The Founders Scholarship is a competitive $2,500, need-based scholarship awarded to students who embody the values set forth by MSUM’s founders: success, service and citizenship. Long ago our students were affectionately known as “scramblers,” because they came from modest means, worked hard, and left with a brighter future. Continue reading