At the inaugural ceremony formally inducting James Limbaugh as chancellor of Montana State University-Northern, you couldn't help but feel that things were poppin'.
In recent weeks, several initiatives have been announced that will begin to tap the potential the campus has. Among them:
• A massive effort to spruce up the campus with painting, plantings and repairs.
• A new emphasis on connecting to the community. Limbaugh says he has never seen an institution with such a close tie to the community at-large.
• A serious program to stem the decade-long slump in enrollment.
• A commitment from Limbaugh to see what can be done to raise the level of salaries for faculty and staff. Pay at Northern is a the bottom of the barrel according to a recent survey.
There are thousands of alumni along the Hi-Line and lots more who work with the college, and thousands who participate in college activities ranging from education programs to social activities to cheering for the Lights and Skylights.
The Hi-Line sees its future closely connected with Northern's future. Our teachers, nurses and auto mechanics — the people who form the backbone of our communities — have received their training at Northern.
That's why there is a feeling of exhilaration that the campus is on the move.
Exhilaration won't be enough to get Northern to where it needs to be. But it may give the campus and the community the kick-start they need.
In coming weeks, people will be given the opportunity to help fund some projects on campus. We hope people who can do so will help out. For those who can't, there are numerous other ways to help Northern succeed.
Talking up the campus, urging state and federal lawmakers to increase funding for the campus, supporting campus activities and maybe just cheering a bit louder for the Lights and Skylights are among he possibilities.