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Mayville State sets enrollment record

Gabriel Salander, a student from Larimore, N.D., walks across Mayville State University campus. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald 1 / 3
Andrew Pflipsen2 / 3
Brian Van Horn.3 / 3

MAYVILLE, N.D. — Mayville State University's small size is one of the main reasons it set a record enrollment this spring, administrators say.

Spring enrollment at Mayville State was 1,078 students, a 13.4 percent increase from spring 2014 and a record for the university founded in 1889. Officials say the comfortable way students, many of them from rural North Dakota, feel on a small campus makes a difference.

"We know the students inside and outside the classroom," said Brian Van Horn, MSU president. "If you go to any college or university in the country, they talk about personal service. I believe we don't just talk about, we actually practice it."

It was that attention to students and the support of the community that impressed Van Horn so much he left his former job last spring as associate provost at Murray State University in Murray, Kent., to become Mayville State's president.

"When I stepped on campus, it was apparent—the commitment of the university to the students. It was the deciding factor."

Van Horn also was impressed by the support Traill County residents give the university.

"Here, the university and the students are part of our community," Van Horn said, noting that MSU basketball team members gave rides to an elderly Mayville woman this past season so she could attend games.

Community members, in turn, wholeheartedly support MSU sports, Van Horn said. For example, there were 500 to 700 fans at MSU volleyball games he attended last fall, a much larger number than the attendance he's witnessed at schools with 10 times MSU's enrollment, he said.

One-on-one

Mayville State University freshman Ben Johnson appreciates that he has been able to get to know his teachers personally.

"It's easy to talk to my professors," said Johnson, a business management major from Northwood, N.D., who plays football at MSU. He also likes the campus size.

"I like the small-town feel," he said. As a member of a high school graduating class of 17, he feels more comfortable on Mayville's campus than he would at a larger university, he said.

"They're not just a number, they're a name," said Andrew Pflipsen, MSU vice president of student affairs.

The university last fall received a $2.25 million Title 3 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to assist the university in retaining its students. This includes establishing an advisory center on campus.

"If we accept them, our goal is for them to be successful and graduate," Van Horn said.

Statistics show 62 percent of Mayville State's student body is from North Dakota, and 72 percent will stay in the state after they graduate, Pflipsen said.

"The closer we can keep students to where they grew up, the more we can keep them in North Dakota," Van Horn said.

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