Congratulations on your appointment as chancellor of Montana State University-Northern.
You'll find Havre an exceptionally friendly city. Sadly, you will be coming on Jan. 1, the most frigid time of the year. We're pretty sure you didn't see too many sub-zero days in Texas. It will be cold when you arrive, but you can be sure that things will warm up.
You will face mounting challenges at Northern. Costs are going up, incoming revenues are not keeping pace. Infrastructure demands are great, but efforts to fund a new automotive center were, unfortunately, rejected by the state Legislature this year, despite a bipartisan push from the Hill County delegation.
Students, faculty and staff are looking forward to your arrival. You will bring a sense of direction to the university which has faced some turmoil in recent years.
Northern is vital to the students, many of whom could not attend college if it were not for the relatively low tuition and the proximity to home for so many students.
Northern is a gateway to the middle class for many students. Many are the first in their families to attend college.
Two years ago, Gov. Brian Schweitzer gave the commencement address, recounting the sacrifices his parents, who never graduated high school, had made so he and his siblings could attend college. He asked graduates who were in a similar situation to stand up, turn toward their parents and give them a round of applause. Parents beamed with pride as they contemplated the opportunities their children would have. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
What you may not realize is the importance Northern has to the community at large.
It is the place that trains our teachers, nurses, auto mechanics and others who will become the backbone of our communities.
It provides opportunities for older residents to get training in a variety of fields — training they could not get unless Northern were here.
It is the cultural center of the area, providing speakers, concerts and other activities that are very special to our communities.
Northern staff members are especially active in the Havre community. They make tremendous contributions to cultural, religious, civic and political organizations.
And perhaps most important, it is the engine that drives our economy. Several projects being worked on at the college now hold out hope for a brighter future for the Hi-Line. In a community that faces many difficulties, Northern is a beacon of hope.
Welcome to Havre, Dr. Limbaugh. Best of luck as you deal with these challenges. We will depend on you, and we will be supporting you.