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Sue's Views -- A community call to action: What can we be in the next 50 years?

This past Thursday and Friday, I spent a couple hours with some out-of-towners.

The University of Minnesota, Morris was hosting Special Visit days to take advantage of the fall break for high school students. As part of those events, they offered community tours for prospective students and their parents and I was one of the volunteer tour guides.

I always am honored to be asked to do this, as I'm a relative newcomer to the community myself. Plus, I always enjoy meeting students and hearing why they might choose UMM.

All of the students who participated in my tours were from bigger communities, such as St. Paul, St. Cloud and Hutchinson. Most of them had never been to Morris before. None of them knew much about small towns and a couple of them were concerned about it.

I told them that Morris has multiple personalities. It is both a farming community and a college town, a small town and a regional center, and above all else a great place to live, work, go school and stay for 30 years or more.

I shared that even though Morris is facing the same struggles as other communities. I'm sure that if there's any opportunity to build on, this community will find it.

How do I know? Because we've already done it.

Imagine the kind of concern community leaders in Morris had 50 years ago when the state legislature decided to close the West Central School of Agriculture. It was a turning point for the community and things could have turned out poorly. And yet, here we are, 50 years later, giving tours of one of the nation's outstanding public liberal arts colleges.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we have become what we are by our predecessors' efforts.

Next year, UMM will celebrate its 50th anniversary along with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the West Central School of Agriculture. That kind of celebration is less about marking the passage of time and more about honoring the accomplishment of having such outstanding institutions in our midst.

To me, it's also a call to action. We all need to realize that 50 years from now, this community will only be as vibrant and bustling as we make it. We are each responsible for not just maintaining our community, but building on the opportunities that are hidden in the challenges we're facing.