Montana State University-Northern is at a crossroads again.
The university that is at the heart of Havre life has gone through some serious problems in recent years.
It is vital that things get back on track for the sake of the community, the staff and, most important, the students.
Twice in three years, Northern’s chancellor has left unexpectedly under troubled circumstances, and the campus is in a state of exhaustion.
Northern's value to the city, the region and the state is too great to let the troubles continue. We must pick ourselves up, shake ourselves off and get working for Northern.
We must work together to calm things down and move forward.
Let’s review why Northern is so vital to our community.
First, it is an economic engine.
The good-paying jobs have a major impact on the community’s economy. The students who attend classes here purchase items from Havre’s business community at a good clip.
That is only the beginning of Northern’s value to the Hi-Line.
Northern people are involved in virtually every aspect of Havre life — social, cultural and political.
It provides help to every major industry in town — health care, railroads, education and agriculture.
There are lots of reasons why Havre is more than just another town on the prairie, but Northern is the prime reason.
And, most important, Northern has provided many thousands of young people and a good number of older students the education that has made them productive citizens wage-earners while enriching their lives.
That’s why when Northern’s heart aches, the entire town is pained.
And that’s why we all have to take part in the healing of the institution.
Perhaps because of the strong feelings the community has for Northern, discussions about the university are intensely passionate. Psychological wounds have resulted from the recent round of Northern controversies. It’s time to heal the wounds. Let’s start by taking a deep breath.
No one won from the recent rounds of disputes.
To begin the journey forward, let’s all commit that we will look to the future, not the past.
The list of what we want at Northern is not short.
We want the high school education program restored and reinvigorated. We want the new diesel technology building constructed and funded. We want professors paid something other than the lowest salaries in Montana and maybe even the nation. We want facilities upgraded and dormitories brought up to snuff. We want major student recruiting efforts. We want Donaldson Hall restored to its former luster. We want the nursing program brought up to standard so that Northern can continue to provide the great quality of nurses it is known for.
None of this will happen easily. It will take a determined community ready to fight for what is right.
Political pressure in the Legislature and within the Montana University System is required.
Those of us with political influence must step forward. Those with financial resources must be willing to help out. And those of us who can should go to the I Love Northern Ball, even if we don’t like the format this year.
Bickering over insignificant things will accomplish nothing.
We all must move forward, working for the best and realize that we are not all going to get our way all the time.