Since October of 2012 a committee of alumni, faculty and staff have been planning for a momentous occasion that will be hard to forget: MSUM’s 125th anniversary celebration.
On the MSUM website, one can find an interactive timeline that maps out the history of our 125-year-old institution beginning with the first president of MSUM, Livingston Lord. Throughout the timeline, dates noted range from new school presidents, students’ worries of rising tuition, rallies and awards.
The interactive timeline is one of many ways past and present faculty, staff and students can join the celebration, as well as alumni.
“We think it’s an opportunity to have some fun and invite folks to the conversation rather than tell them,” said David Wahlberg, executive director of communications and marketing.
Everyone is welcome to share their memories such as the location of a favorite spot on campus or a campus event still remembered today.
Jon Wepking, associate athletic director for marketing and production, is a part of planning and helping create the interactive timeline.
“There is a very proud history here,” Wepking said, “and everyone who’s contributed to this project is not bashful to share some wonderful pieces of history that have happened here.”
Wahlberg and Wepking are both alumni who have returned to MSUM’s campus. Wahlberg graduated in ‘81. Wepking graduated in ‘09 with a bachelor’s degree and in ‘11 with his master’s degree.
“It’s a cool thing to work for your alma mater,” Wepking said. “You hear about coaches and people who always kind of go back to where they got their start to add value to their experience because they had such a good one here.”
A team effort headed the timeline project, including the archivist on campus Terry Shoptaugh and the information technology, marketing and graphic design departments.
Wepking played for the Dragon’s basketball team for two years during his undergrad. His team mentality remains present when discussing the planning and hard work put into the timeline.
“This is the effort of a lot of talented people here on campus … a lot of people put their hands in this project, and that’s why it looks the way it is,” Wepking said.
The timeline can also be used as a learning tool and an inspiration for when times get rough, according to Wepking.
“From the future generations looking back at this 125th, knowing this institution has survived this long, and even though there have been some tough times lately, this University has survived through tougher and has really shown that it’s here to stay,” Wepking said.
The celebration isn’t limited to the homepage. One can also find all there is to celebrate on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The MSUM’s Facebook page is posting a series called 125 faces of MSUM. A short Q-and-A of faculty and staff members along with their photos are posted. Wahlberg thinks of these profiles as a way to get to know the core of MSUM better.
“You know, we see each other in the hallways often, and maybe don’t really have much of an opportunity to engage them in a conversation,” Wahlberg said. “It’s really been great to see the comments that are coming back from alums all over or current students, faculty or staff.”
Keep a heads up for more kinds of activities such as 125 Faces of MSUM and 125 Things We Love about MSUM throughout the year.
A special event will take place the Friday of homecoming, at 1 p.m. on Sept. 27. Past presidents, John Neumaier, Roland Dille and Roland Barden, along with President Edna Szymanski will speak in a panel discussion. Wahlberg invites everyone to the Hansen Theatre for this unique opportunity to hear about the institution’s past dating back to 1958.
“By in large, I think it’s going to be an opportunity to hopefully hear stories about the history of this institution that you’re not going to see written down in any form,” Wahlberg said. “Some of those personal memories that I think are going to be so exciting.”
Once a student himself and now part of MSUM’s administration, Wahlberg understands how busy the faculty, staff and students can be.
“It’s okay for us to pause and say, ‘You know, this has been a really great institution for a long time. We’ve helped shape generations of our nation’s leaders, and we’ve given people a good start, a good launching pad for their lives and their careers.
BY JESSICA JASPERSON