Two weeks of classes left followed by final exams—unbelievable! It has been such an amazing year of progress and accomplishments for Valley City State University. I am so grateful for the talents and energies of our faculty, staff, and students. We are indeed a community of difference makers.The best part of the end of an academic year is taking the time to celebrate our Faculty Excellence Award winners: Bob Anderson, Ph.D., Senior Faculty Award; Emily Fenster, Ph.D., Junior Faculty Award; and Laurel Westby, M.S., Adjunct/Special Appointment Award.We also recognize our faculty and staff members entering a new phase of life: retirement; our students’ accomplishments as leaders, researchers, artists, and athletes; and, of course, commencement. Commencement is set for May 13, 2017—an opportunity to congratulate 254 of VCSU’s newest alumni!Our commencement speakers include Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System; our student representative, Morgan Nalley, a graduating senior from Pocatello, Idaho; and a professor. We will continue our new tradition of having the Teacher of the Year offer remarks on behalf of the faculty. The Teacher of the Year Award is a long-standing recognition program of Student Senate. All students are invited to nominate their favorite professor, and then the student senators select the award recipient. I think it’s especially meaningful that our commencement speaker is someone selected by the students, someone who has inspired them to do their best work and mentored them toward a purposeful life.I am pleased to announce that Student Senate has selected professor Jodi Shorma as the 2017 Teacher of the Year!Jodi Shorma, assistant professor of language and literature, has been a member of the VCSU faculty since 2009, teaching in several areas, including English, business, and communication. She served as director of our Learning Center from 2009–16. According to VCSU student Deborah Haley, “Professor Shorma works to be sure all of her students understand the material in class. She cares about each of us and helps us do our best. She always come to class at least 10 minutes early and greets every student personally, asking how their day is going and how they’re doing with their assignments. She knows who is in which clubs and student activities, where they work on campus, and other information pertinent to their lives. Her connection with students runs deep.”Jordan Bushaw, Student Senate president shared the following about the award presentation: “When presenting the Teacher of the Year Award, we aim to do it with as many senators as possible in one of the selected professor’s classes. This year we also included her fellow faculty, as well as the vice president for academic affairs, vice president for student affairs, and the president. I wanted to include others because Professor Shorma should know she is appreciated by students as well as by her colleagues and supervisors. We surprised Professor Shorma with the presentation during one of her upper-level writing classes because the students are primarily English/English ed majors who she has known for years, and with whom she has the strongest relationships. This is one of my favorite things to do in Student Senate—I love letting the faculty of VCSU know just how much they mean to us.” Professor Shorma has earned the respect and admiration of our students and her colleagues. She embodies the phrase “the heart of a teacher,” which makes her a great choice to speak to our graduating students on a very significant day in their lives. I can’t wait to hear her message and for the opportunity to celebrate our graduates. Indeed, May 13 will be a great day to be a Viking!