Coffee with Kennedy: President visits local communities

President Mark Kennedy talks with a resident of Mayville at Paula's Cafe.
President Mark Kennedy talks with a resident of Mayville at Paula’s Cafe.

President Mark Kennedy enjoyed coffee with the people of North Dakota this week.

He hit Main Street on Wednesday and Thursday and ventured into local coffee shops in communities up and down the Red River Valley. From Edinburg to Casselton, Kennedy, joined by First Lady Debbie Kennedy and Mark’s father, Eugene, took his “Coffee with Kennedy” on the road to meet with citizens across the region and to share news about what’s going on at UND.

On Wednesday in Edinburg, Janne Myrdal, the daughter-in-law of former North Dakota Lt. Gov. Rosemarie Myrdal, was among a number of folks who came out to the Fireside Lounge to see Kennedy. She was impressed by the new president’s willingness to get out of Grand Forks and visit with residents in the state’s smaller towns.

“It’s nice to know that the University is people and not just a place,” said Myrdal, who also happens to be running for State Senate in her district.

President Mark Kennedy (right), with his father Eugene Kennedy, (center) 90-years-old, and First Lady Debbie Kennedy (left) enter Paula's Cafe in Mayville.
President Mark Kennedy (right), with his father Eugene Kennedy, (center) 90-years-old, and First Lady Debbie Kennedy (left) enter Paula’s Cafe in Mayville.

Popular pop
Kennedy started his Wednesday in Grafton at the local Caribou Coffee outlet in the Hugo’s grocery store, before moving on to Cavalier for a visit to Thompson’s Café. He rounded out the day at the golf course in Larimore.

Kennedy’s first stop on Thursday was Paula’s Café in Mayville. He then headed over to get a personal tour of Mayville State University, led by MSU President Gary Hagen and his wife, Debbie.

Next it was off to Hunter, N.D., just down the road from Mayville, where Kennedy’s 90-year-old father, Eugene, who currently lives in Roseville, Minn., but who worked in banking in Hunter from 1952-54, was a hit with the locals.

“One of the highlights was actually getting him down to where he had spent the early part of his career,” said Fred Wittmann, head of UND ceremonies and university events and an organizer of the Coffee with Kennedy road trip. “We walked into the bank and I felt like we were in the presence of a Rock star – and it wasn’t because of the President – it was his dad.”

High school guest
Kennedy and crew wound down Thursday in Casselton at Kerry’s Kitchen. They also spent some time at Central Cass High School in Casselton. At the high school, Kennedy spoke to the senior class about “360⁰ Winning,” about setting goals, planning ahead and achieving at everything in life, from academics to careers to family life.

Kennedy’s first Coffee with Kennedy event for the community was on July 7, only six days after starting at UND. It took place in Grand Forks at Grand Forks Herald Community Room.

— David Dodds, University & Public Affairs writer