Blackhurst emphasizes students, academia during inauguration as MSUM’s 11th president

By Grace Lyden | The Forum | September 27, 2014

MOORHEAD – The Minnesota State University Moorhead campus was a sea of red Friday when students lined up for the procession to Anne Blackhurst’s inauguration as the university’s 11th president.

The group of several hundred periodically broke into chants of “Let’s go Anne” or “We want Anne,” and many sported red T-shirts bearing the hashtag #AnneFan, which has emerged as a student favorite since Blackhurst took office July 1.

Audience members at the ceremony were encouraged to use #AnneFan and tweet from their phones. At the back of the Hansen Theatre were the “Tweet Seats,” where students and staff got the ball rolling.

Thanks to her active Twitter presence and personal gift of $50,000 to merit-based scholarships earlier this year, Blackhurst has developed an enthusiastic student following.

“I feel like she cares about what we think,” freshman Sarah Stordahl said Friday.

Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, echoed that sentiment in the ceremony when he called Blackhurst “a fervent advocate for students and their success.”

The theme of Blackhurst’s inauguration is “Leading for the Long Run,” a play on her hobby of long-distance running.

Blackhurst has run eight marathons to date, including the Fargo Marathon, where her time qualified her for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

In her inaugural address, Blackhurst likened working in higher education to running a marathon.

Both have unknowable challenges ahead, she said. Both can benefit from community support. And both require grit, which Blackhurst believes to be “the single most important quality in determining success.”

In her address, Blackhurst said she will move MSUM forward by focusing “relentlessly” on student achievement, encouraging diversity “in all aspects” of the university and making MSUM “indispensable” to economic and social advancement in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

She also emphasized that she would continue the university’s 125-year tradition of dedication to academia.

MSUM juniors Daniela Guerrero and Danna Galeano are “Anne fans” because “she supports international students,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero is from Venezuela, and Galeano is from Colombia. Both have scholarships, so they found it meaningful when Blackhurst donated $50,000 of her personal money to merit-based student aid.

But also, Guerrero said, “she’s really fun.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Grace Lyden at (701) 241-5502.

Photos by Dave Wallis | The Forum

Top photo: Minnesota State University Moorhead President Anne Blackhurst walks outside to cheers from students after her inauguration ceremony Friday at MSUM. A track clock marks the start of her tenure as the 11th president of the school. Bottom photo: Blackhurst poses for aselfie” with students Paige Wallis, left, and Mikayla Gustafson after the inauguration ceremony.