The Performing Arts Center has a new moniker – The Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center, renamed in honor of the contributions of the late president emeritus who passed away in 2015 at the age of 94.  Serving as the 10th president of WSU from 1967-1977, Robert “Bob” DuFresne’s tenure has been recognized as a substantial turning point in the university’s history.  

 Current WSU President Scott R. Olson credits Dr. DuFresne with guiding the institution during its “coming of age,” including its transition to a regional comprehensive university and the completion of nine major construction and renovation projects. “There is Winona State ‘Before Bob’ and ‘After Bob,” he explains. “It was during his time that the College became a University. It was during his time that some of our core values – such as scholarship and community engagement – first emerged.  And then there are the facilities he brought into being: Memorial Hall, Minne Hall, Maxwell Hall, Sheehan Hall, much of Kryzsko Commons, and of course, the Performing Arts Center.” 


You can learn more about the inspiring life and career of Dr. DuFresne, including the 2005 WSU Living History Project documentary.



Winona State has added three new graduate programs to its offeringsMaster of Social Work, Master of Athletic Training, and Doctor of Education.   

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program was created to address the regional demand for licensed clinical social workers. Emerging societal issues of the aging population, rising prevalence of mental health concerns, and increasing incidents of trauma has created a national shortage of clinical social workers prepared at the master’s level. Additionally, WSU’s program is the only MSW program in the tri-state region to offer a clinical concentration, a hybrid delivery format accessible to working adults, and an affordable tuition rate. 

WSU’s new two-year Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program is for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree and all program requirements. This program allows students to complete the professional graduate program in Athletic Training, including all courses and clinical education requirements necessary to become a certified athletic trainer. Upon completion of the graduate program, students will be eligible to sit for the Board of Certification exam.  

In the new Doctor of Education program, students have the option to choose an emphasis such as curriculum and instruction, higher education, technology education, indigenous studies, special education, or organizational administration. The program is delivered via a cohort model through a combination of online courses, face-to-face summer residencies, and other electronic interactive instructional mentoring and communications. 





Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Edward “Ted” Reilly was announced as the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Reilly has been with the university since 1997, previously serving in the roles of 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. He received his Ph.D. in Speech Communication from Louisiana State University. During Reilly’s appointment as Interim Provost, the university will launch a search for a new permanent Provost to replace Dr. Patricia Rogers, who was appointed this spring as the new President of Lake Superior College in Duluth. 



Dean of the College of Education

Dr. Daniel Kirk has been named the new Dean of the College of Education, stepping into his position this past July. His previous roles include Dean & Professor of Education at American University in Ras al Khaimah, UAE and Associate Dean and Professor at the National Defense College in Abu Dhabi. He has also served in leadership positions and on faculty in the US, UAE and Bahrain, and was a middle/high school English Language Arts teacher in the UK, Dubai, Bermuda and Qatar. Kirk obtained his B.A. in English Studies and M.A. in Education-Special Education Needs from the University of Sunderland, UK and his Ph.D. in Education-Language Education from the University of Georgia. He is a recognized expert on educational policy formation in international settings and is often consulted regarding setting national teacher preparation policy and practice, with a focus on the Persian Gulf states. Kirk assumes his role from Dr. Tarrell Portman, who served as Dean of the College from 2014-2019. 



Associate Dean of College of Liberal Arts 

Dr. Rita Rahoi-Gilchrest was appointed Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in May 2019. She has served as the Interim Associate Dean for the college at WSU since 2016. Prior, Rahoi-Gilchrest held various roles in the WSU Communication Studies Department, including Department Chair, Professor, Associate Professor, Internship Director, and Assistant Professor. Before coming to WSU, she held positions at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She earned her B.A. in Organizational Communication/Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and her M.A. and Ph.D., both in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication/Rhetoric from Ohio University. 




According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Career Readiness Model, there are eight core competencies that employers seek in college grads: critical thinking, leadership, collaboration and teamwork, professionalism and career management, oral and written communication, digital technology, global and cultural fluency, and community engagement. Winona State’s Career Services office has already begun to structure its work with students to focus on this framework, and now, the overall university will focus on this work for its 2019-20 theme. 

This year will bring an increase in efforts to help students better identify, articulate and advance their professional competencies through curricular and co-curricular programming. The theme also invites academic programs to highlight and share their best practices unique to their disciplines. For more information on the Career Readiness university theme year, visit wsu.mn/career-readiness. 




The WSU Women’s Rugby Club Team, the Black Katts, announced plans to move from the DII Minnesota League to the DI Midwest League for the fall 2019 season. The high-caliber team has claimed the national championship twice and second place six times over the last 10 years.  

The Black Katts have applied for DI status twice in the last three years but were denied each time. Then, this last fall, a team spot opened in the DI Midwest League and the proposal was made again. The difference this time was that the team first received approval from USA Rugby, then from the Minnesota Rugby Union in a 10-0 vote, and finally to the DI Midwest Conference in a 6-0 vote.  

“They have worked extremely hard to get here and deserve what is to come,” commented Roger Riley, former assistant coach and faculty advisor. 

With their new DI status, the Black Katts will take on teams like the University of Minnesota, the University of Iowa and Iowa State this fallThese schools – unlike WSU – have university-wide DI rugby programs in place. As part of the proposal, the team will compete in the DI Midwest conference, but will still take the DII post-season path and compete against their formal rivals in the fall playoffs. 




In April, Pedro Pablo Lander ’15 brought their Noche Bomba performance to WSU, and event co-sponsored by many groups across campus. Previously performed as a solo piece at the Walker Art Center, Noche Bomba is an exploration of forms and of gender – a culmination of Lander’s research looking at their gender and sexuality evolution in relationship to their latinx Venezuelan upbringing.  

Shortly after the performance at Winona State, it was announced that Lander was awarded a two-year, $40,000 grant through the St. Paul-based Jerome Foundation, which seeks to contribute to a dynamic and evolving culture by supporting the creation, development and production of new works by early career and emerging artists. 



WSU hosted the HOPE Academic and Leadership Academy 2019 on campus in June. The 10-day residential program welcomed 49 under-represented and under-served high school students in grades 9-12. During their stay, they experienced college life by engaging in college-level courses and workshops to develop and explore their leadership skills, and participated in leadership training, communication and skill-building activities to help move beyond the financial, social and academic barriers – both factual and presumed – and toward the realization of an engaged and successful undergraduate experience. 






President Olson continued his tradition of hosting “Pizza with the President” during finals week in December and May, treating students to free pizza from Rocco’s, Sammy’s and Zaza’s. 





A recent study showed Winona State creating a $447.8 million economic impact per year – contributing $24.2 million in state and local revenue, $9.3 million in community contribution, and supporting and sustaining 3,465 jobs. 







WSU Counseling Services welcomed new therapy dog, Aiden, to campus! Registered as an AKC Canine Good Citizen, he joins WSU’s original therapy dog, Winston, in offering students some stress-relieving doggy support.






WSU radio station KQAL was honored with three Eric Sevareid Awards at the 2019 Midwest Journalism Conference. 







The Winonan, WSU’s student-run newspaper (and one of the oldest student newspapers in the State of Minnesota) celebrates its 100th Anniversary this fall.  





WSU’s Women in Science & Engineering club hosted NanoDays in March 2019, a free community event where children of all ages could participate in hands-on science experiments and watch a live demonstration of making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. 

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