College of Business Launches Engagement Center

Located in Somsen Hall, the Engagement Center is a new space designed to connect WSU students, faculty, and staff with WSU alumni, community members, and business partners.

“The Engagement Center will enhance the educational experience for our students,” said College of Business Dean Hamid Akbari. “It offers opportunities for our faculty, staff, and students to work together with our partners in the community to improve our world, and also provides our partners the opportunity to contribute to the education of our students.”

The center supports experiential learning for students, faculty, and community partners by providing the physical space and technology to enhance collaborative opportunities. Physical amenities include the WSU Center for Sales Excellence,
the Financial Markets Lab, and open collaborative space.

The Center for Sales Excellence expansion builds on leading edge instruction and a proven curriculum, preparing students for successful careers in sales. It features two dedicated sales roleplay rooms, each with state of the art technology to record and broadcast audio and video. Additionally, the roleplay rooms can serve as focus group facilities and provide space for interviews, meetings, presentations, and collaborative discussions.

“We are committed to delivering education, research and leadership that advance the sales profession,” Marianne Collins, associate professor of marketing, said. “Demand for graduates interested in pursuing sales careers has been uninterrupted by technological advances or economic conditions. We incorporate current business practices in our curriculum by fostering a relationship between business and academia that capitalizes on the unique strengths of both.”

“The Engagement Center will enhance the educational experience for our students.” — Hamid Akbari Dean, College of Business

The Financial Markets Lab provides a dedicated space for the Student Investment Program, a collaboration between WSU finance students, the WSU Foundation, and university donors. Students in the program gain hands-on experience in finance and recommend the portfolio allocation of over $100,000 of WSU Foundation funds. The Financial Markets Lab also serves as a formal boardroom for meetings and presentations.

Finally, the open collaborative space of the Engagement Center is a multipurpose area designed to incubate innovation. With reconfigurable seating for both strategic discussions and socialization, the space allows for both planned and spontaneous interaction between members of the Winona business community and students or faculty from the WSU College of Business. This space is also able to accommodate larger presentations and receptions.

The WSU College of Business enrolls approximately 1,365 undergraduate students. The college has 43 full-time professors and offers seven undergraduate majors and ten undergraduate minors. The college is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. To learn more about the WSU College of Business visit:

Batcher Named Director of Athletic Communications

Stephen Batcher was named the director of athletic communications in June 2016. He comes to Winona State after four years as the sports information director at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

During his time at Morris, Batcher served as the primary contact for all 19 sports offered by the NCAA Division III university, and was in charge of their athletic website, social media accounts, gameday programs and management.

Batcher is familiar with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC), as he served as the sports information graduate assistant at Concordia University, St. Paul, from 2010-2012. He helped promote two national championships for Concordia’s volleyball team in 2010 and 2011. Prior to Concordia, Batcher was an assistant in the University of Louisiana, Lafayette Athletic Communications Department.

A Concordia University, St. Paul, graduate, he earned his BA in communications in 2008, and his master’s in strategic communications in 2013.

Miene Named Dean of Liberal Arts

Winona State University recently named Dr. Peter Miene dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Miene served in the role of interim associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts (2012-present), department chair (2008-2012), and interim chair for the Department of Psychology (2006-2008). He also held faculty positions as professor (1997-2002) and assistant professor (1992-1997).

Dr. Miene received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and his BA in psychology from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. While at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Miene held fellowships with both the Graduate School and the Department of Psychology and received an American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award.

Narva’ez Receives Humanities Grant

Winona State University Assistant Professor of Sociology Rafael Narváez has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which will allow him to prepare a course that traces the evolution of the body and soul rhetoric in the West.

WSU students who take this NEH-sponsored course will have the opportunity to study some of the most important texts in the Western canon, including works in the human sciences, philosophy, literature, and poetry. Music and visual arts are also an integral part of the course, and these units will be complemented with a visit to The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. At the end of the semester, students will present class projects at a symposium open to the Winona community.

Dr. Narváez’s research involves the intersections of sociology, psychology, and biology, as well as the sociology of the body. This grant will allow him to expand his research and writing into the humanities, to better understand how the Western tradition has imagined the body/soul relationship, and with what consequences for our culture.

Oertel Receives Professional Excellence Award

Dr. Barbara Oertel, director of the Warrior Success Center, was honored with the Professional Excellence Award for Administrative Service Faculty by Minnesota State.

For the last 30 years, Dr. Oertel has worked to improve the student experience at WSU. She helped found the Warrior Success Center, the mission of which is to provide free and accessible services and resources for student success, including tutoring, advising, and access services. For Dr. Oertel, being honored by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is the result of a culmination of collaborative work with students and faculty.

Reilly Named Associate VP

Dr. Ted Reilly has been appointed to the position of associate vice president for Academic Affairs.

Dr. Reilly previously served in the roles of interim associate vice president for Academic Affairs, interim assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, acting dean of the College of Education, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs – Rochester, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and associate professor and chair in communication studies at WSU.

“His contributions have been vital to building a strong team, upholding WSU’s excellent academic traditions, and better addressing the needs of the Winona and Rochester campuses,” said WSU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Patricia Rogers.