Following an afternoon celebration with half the attendees decked in formal academic robes, the 11th chancellor in Montana State University’s history, James Limbaugh, was inaugurated and a new chapter has officially begun.
That was the message Friday in the Montana State University-Northern gymnasium, as MSU President Waded Cruzado officiated Northern’s first-ever inauguration ceremony, introducing an extensive list of representatives from various local institutions that welcomed Limbaugh.
Toni Hagener, former state representative and Hill County commissioner, was one of the first, offering a recap of Northern formative prior chapters from her perspective, moving to Havre in 1949.
Mick Robinson, deputy commissioner of higher education, spoke of Northern’s future.
“Today, Montana State University-Northern turns the page on a new chapter,” Robinson said. “And the future looks bright.”
Paul Tuss, Havre’s resident, regent and Bear Paw Development Corp’s executive director, also expressed his excitement over Limbaugh’s work and where it will lead Northern.
“This is a time of exciting change for Montana State University-Northern,” Tuss said, “and we are confident in the leadership of Mr. Limbaugh.”
He also stated the regents’ commitment to work with Limbaugh and Northern to make the school the best possible.
Carole Falcon-Chandler, president of Aaniiih Nakoda College, told the crowd how impressed she was with Limbaugh during a visit he made earlier this year.
“I was very honored to have Dr. Limbaugh come to my campus,” Falcon-Chandler said. “It was just an inspiration.”
“The people that work here are very fortunate to have a leader like him.”
Since the visit, Falcon-Chandler said, she is excited about rebuilding the relationship between their two schools.
Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette spoke about the importance of Northern to the surrounding community and reaffirmed the county’s commitment to work with Northern to strengthen both organizations.
Havre City Council President and Hill County Republican Party Chair Andrew Brekke, speaking on behalf of Mayor Tim Solomon and the City of Havre, expressed gratitude for being a part of “this momentous occassion”. He went on to, like Bessette, expressed a hope that the university and the city could work together to each’s benefit.
Lorren Schlotfeldt, president of the Northern Alumni Association, said the event being the first inauguration sets the bar that all future chancellors will aspire to.
When it came time for Limbaugh to speak he began by thanking the crowd, and the community, for their support.
“I would also like to thank the people of this community who have cared for, nurtured MSU-Northern with a dedication that is unmatched in my career across 30 years and four states,” Limbaugh said.
He then spoke of the challenges he recognizes that Northern, and every other college, face: completion, affordability and college readiness.
Limbaugh believes that Northern’s new vision statement, released earlier this week, lays out the principles and guidelines the university will use to meet these three challenges and overcome them to become the university it deserves to be.
“Our best days are truly yet to come,” Limbaugh said.