MAYVILLE, N.D. — It’s been a year of continued growth for Mayville State University President Brian Van Horn.

Van Horn has just finished his first year in office. The year included increased enrollment numbers each semester, the opening of a new turf football field and the wrap up of his first biennial budget session.

But while the university has had growth over the past year, Van Horn said the relationships he’s built within and outside of the Mayville community have been most important to him.

“It’s really all about relationships,” Van Horn said. “I find the people of North Dakota, as a whole, to be very generous and have an appreciation and an understanding of education and moving the state forward.”

Mayville State’s enrollment numbers have gone up over the past eight years. This spring, the school had 1,121 students, up by 6% over the previous spring.

Van Horn said Mayville’s “personal service” motto attracts students.

“Every university says ‘We love students. Students are first.’ But when you come to Mayville, you really see a different climate for students. Students truly are first,” Van Horn said.

Van Horn said the student population is also reflective of North Dakota as a whole. Around 72% of all Mayville State students choose to remain in North Dakota after they’ve earned their degrees, filling workforce needs and contributing to the state’s economy. For example, Mayville State’s RN-to-BSN online nursing program has grown rapidly and is helping to address the shortage of nursing professionals in the state.

“We have a lot of great young people that make me very proud,” Van Horn said.

Van Horn moved to North Dakota from Kentucky last year. He says North Dakota is similar to the area where he grew up, which helped him understand the region.

State Board of Higher Education member Casey Ryan spent time during recent UND presidential search meetings praising Van Horn for his work in Mayville, despite being from out-of-state.

This year also marked Van Horn’s first biennial budget year. Van Horn said he appreciates the legislators for their support of higher education and the system’s needs-based budget.

Van Horn said the university is looking to add new degree programs in the coming year, as well as expand partnerships across the state. The university and Lake Region State College took their nursing partnership to the next level earlier this year when Mayville opened space on its campus for LRSC’s nursing program.

“We have a good working relationship with our peer institutions in the (North Dakota) University System, and we just look forward to more of that,” he said. “This next year change is important for us. We want to continue to transition into our next steps as a university, and that’s what we’ll use this next year to do.”