Roger Moe was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1970, representing northwest Minnesota.
He remained in the legislature for 32 years, including 22 years as Senate Majority Leader and he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor in 2002.
“If I were to reflect back on my 32 years in the Senate, I would say the one common denominator was a focus on education at all levels, but primarily a focus on higher education,” Moe said in a recent interview.
That’s why having his name on the University of Minnesota Crookston library is a distinct honor, he said.
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“If you think about a library, there's no elementary school, no high school, no college or university that does not have a library. So it's really the heart of an educational institution. And so it's a very special honor for me and my family,” said Moe. “Higher education is extremely important to me, I think it's extremely important to the future of the state, making sure that we have affordable, accessible and relevant educational offerings for students regardless of who they are or where they live.”
Moe worked as a math teacher. In the legislature, he led the creation of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities governance system. He also authored legislation to form the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, earmarking a portion of state lottery proceeds for environmental projects.
His accomplishments and the honor bestowed by the University of Minnesota are a tribute to his parents and six siblings who taught him essential life lessons, said the former lawmaker.
“Watching my dad fix a broken piece of equipment on our farm because he didn't have the money to buy a new piece, you learn how to solve problems and you learn how to work hard. You learn from your mother about being kind and being respectful of your neighbors,” Moe recalled. “You learn from your siblings how to be competitive and persuasive. And you learn courage if your brothers dare you to do something and you're afraid to do it, but you don't want them to call you a chicken.”
Moe turns 79 on June 2 and calls the library dedication ceremony “a great birthday present.”
He’s confident libraries will change, but always be “important neutral spaces” in society.
He’s not so sure about the name on the building.
“I'm realistic enough to know that probably not many years from now, the students will look at the name and say, who's that?”
Moe attended the groundbreaking for the U of M Crookston library as a state lawmaker in 1978.