Electric Vehicle Charging Station Installed on Campus

Over the summer, the university added two new electric vehicle charging stations to the Kryzsko Commons parking lot. To implement these new charging stations, WSU partnered with the community group Winona Climate Action Network to apply for and receive a CERTs Seed Grant. Additional funding came from the Student Green Fee Grant program, which is designed to increase WSU’s sustainability efforts and enhance the student experience.

WSU Sustainability Director Nathan Engstrom explained, “WSU has been working to find a cost-effective way to bring EV charging to campus. The opportunity to collaborate with a community partner on a grant, as well as partner internally with our students through their Green Fee Grant program, made for a compelling case to contribute the necessary campus funds to round out funding for the project.”

The charging stations are available for use to students, faculty, staff, as well as the public, and are located in the Kryzsko Commons parking lot. WSU also announced the addition of two electric cars to its rental motor vehicle pool for employees and students to utilize for university-related travel needs.


Newton Joins WSU as Provost & VP for Academic Affairs

Dr. Darrell Newton joined Winona State in July as the new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Newton relayed his excitement at becoming part of the WSU community. “To say that I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as Provost here at Winona State is a major understatement,” he shared. “Throughout my days as an adjunct lecturer, and on to full professor; from a department chair to an associate dean and later an associate vice-chancellor, I have endeavored to not only become a well-rounded academician, but a reliable, dependable leader. I deeply respect the shared governance process at WSU and stand ready to work closely with President Olson in supporting our students, faculty, and staff.”

Newton comes from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he served as Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies. He earned his 

 Ph.D. and master’s degree in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as a master’s degree in English and bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from UW-Milwaukee. Newton assumes his role from Dr. Edward “Ted” Reilly, who had served as the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs since July 2019.


Celebrating Our Graduates – Virtually

When COVID-19 forced classes to go online and everyone to head home, it also unfortunately meant that spring 2020 commencement could not take place as usual.

To celebrate its spring 2020 graduates, WSU planned a virtual celebration that reached nearly 60,000 people across 29 countries. The graduating class included more than 1,400 students, with 354 being first-generation students and 39 international students. Audience members who tuned in were able to hear from President Scott Olson, Interim Director of Alumni Engagement Tracy Hale, and two commencement speakers from the graduating class, Nicole Ruhland ’20 and Patrick Broe ’20, among others.

Various interactive elements were incorporated into the celebration, including a virtual WSU Class of 2020 Yearbook where graduates were able to upload a picture and message to their fellow classmates, and a Kudos Board where family members and friends could share personalized congratulatory messages to their loved one graduating.

The highlight of the event was The Warriors Journey segment, which featured graduating seniors sharing their memories, lessons learned, and reflections on their time spent at Winona State, followed by a virtual hand-clap tunnel by faculty and staff members, which has become a tradition at the twice-yearly in-person event.

WSU has also announced that its Fall 2020 commencement celebration will take place virtually, taking place on Friday, December 11. More details will be made available in the coming weeks on the university’s website.


WSU Names Jon D. Olson as VP For Advancement/Executive Director of WSU Foundation

Winona State announced the appointment of Jon D. Olson to the position of Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of the WSU Foundation, effective Dec. 1, 2020.

Olson most recently served as the Senior Vice President of Development at Northern State University Foundation in Aberdeen, SD. Other previous appointments include: Director of Development at Bemidji State University; Assistant Athletic Director at Upper Iowa University; Director of Development for Build Our Ballpark in Waterloo, IA; and Campaign Coordinator for Cedar Valley United Way, also in Waterloo.

Olson received his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from St. John’s University and his Master of Sports Administration and Facility Management from Ohio University.


“As Vice President for University Advancement, one of my main roles is to make connections,” said Olson. “I look forward to working with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, community members, legislators and friends of Winona State University to help connect the needs of the institution with available external resources, to develop partnerships with industry and benefactors, and to learn about your needs and how we can better serve you.”

Olson will replace Andrea Northam, who has served as Interim Vice President for Advancement since August 2019.


Guaranteed Energy Savings Project

Winona State announced that is embarking upon a campus-wide Guaranteed Energy Savings Program project. The university has partnered with McKinstry, a company designed to help make buildings more sustainable and efficient, to design and implement the project.

The goal of the project is to reduce campus energy use by 10%, which is expected to be accomplished through charge of making building efficiency improvements, addressing maintenance issues, reducing environmental impact, and improving comfort in spaces in all buildings on campus.

The project is estimated to progress over the next 12-18 months.

For more information on other sustainability efforts being made on campus, visit the WSU Sustainability website.


Getting Help to Students During COVID

Winona State and the WSU Foundation are working to get students additional financial support needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic hit earlier this year, it was apparent that some students were more adversely affected than others. WSU’s international students were one of those groups of students. Some students found themselves unable to return home, facing limited to no employment options, and didn’t qualify for government funding programs such as stimulus checks and funding through the CARES Act.

In response to the increased need of these students, the WSU Foundation worked with donors to create the International Student COVID-19 Relief Fund, proceeds of which go directly to WSU’s international students to help cover expenses such as rent and food.

Two other resources available to all WSU students, and which were already in existence prior to the pandemic, include the Warrior Student Emergency Relief Fund and the Warrior Cupboard.

The Warrior Student Emergency Relief Fund, a resource for all students in times of need, is available for students who are finding that they need additional help to meet their immediate needs related to housing, tuition, and other unexpected costs.

The Warrior Cupboard, an on-campus food pantry that was first established in 2017, works to combat food insecurity throughout the WSU community. In the wake of COVID-19 this spring, the Cupboard increased its services to accommodate over fourteen times its average capacity, and needs are on the rise again with students back on campus this fall.

If you are interested in joining our effort to ensure all WSU students are safe, healthy and supported during the pandemic, you can donate at winona.edu/give and indicate which effort you would like your gift to go towards.


WSU Covers Mural to Promote Inclusivity

As part of the university’s efforts to become more conscious of implicit bias, the 1930s era mural in the front entrance of Somsen Hall was covered this August by removable panels. The mural was originally painted during the depression by Minnesota native and teacher John Martin Socha, who it is said often based his work on interviews with pioneers’ firsthand accounts to shape his view on historical events of the region. Due to this method, his depictions were often historically biased.

With various scenes depicting white settlers arriving in Winona, there is no historical depiction recognizing the atrocities suffered by the Indigenous People, which included The Dakota Tribe, among others.

As Winona State is located on ancestral lands of the Dakota People, the university routinely works with and seeks council from the Oceti Ŝakowiŋ, and it was through this work that the recommendation to take action surrounding the mural was given.

According to Roger Boulay, Assistant Professor of Art and Design, “WSU has received consistent feedback from Indigenous members of our community over the past decades that the mural’s portrayal of their People is historically inaccurate and deeply hurtful to them. WSU is on Dakota land; therefore, we are choosing to refrain from colonizing depictions of the Dakota on land taken from their People.”

While the mural will no longer be seen upon entrance to Somsen Hall, the artwork has been preserved for educational purposes. The coverings being installed are removable in nature, which will allow for continued discussion and learning opportunities surrounding equity and bias.

Read the full article on the WSU News Blog.