WSU Letters near the gazebo in front of Phelps Hall in the fall.

WSU Foundation Annual Report | FY20

Bob Strauss

What an exciting time to be Board Chair of the Winona State University Foundation.

Recently we announced the largest gift ever to the university and welcomed a new CEO of the Winona State University Foundation, we have incredible momentum and I like the direction we are heading.

Having raised my family in Winona, I have a pretty good pulse on the community and believe the level of optimism, including the Foundation, to be at an all-time high.

Bob Strauss

Winona State University Foundation Chair

WSU Foundation Board 2020

Bob Strauss ‘76 | Chair
Tom Wynn | Chair Elect
Mark Nichols ‘78 | Immediate Past Chair
Jim Meyer ‘85 | Secretary
John McShea ‘79 | Treasurer

Foundation Board Trustees 2020

  • Diane Amundson
  • Michael Arnold
  • Howard Bicker ‘70
  • Bob Biesterfeld ‘99
  • George Bolon
  • Bob Brewer ‘77
  • Bonnie Clipper ‘87
  • Scott Ellinghuysen ‘89
  • Mary Elliott ‘77
  • Michael Ericson ‘86
  • Greg Evans
  • Steve Heuslein
  • LeAnn Johnson ‘99
  • Reggie Johnson ‘85
  • Scott Johnson ‘82
  • Thom Kieffer
  • Tim Missling ‘87
  • Ken Mogren ‘70
  • Dan Mortensen ‘79
  • Bob Neis ‘76
  • Scott Olson
  • Scott Opfer ‘84
  • Dick Record
  • Rill Reuter
  • Dave Reubenstein ‘86
  • Michael Russell ‘84
  • Jolene Vaselaar

Welcome from Vice President Jon Olson

Greetings alumni and friends of Winona State University! What a humbling honor it is to be able to write to our donors for the first time and thank you all for the difference you make in the lives of the students at Winona State University.

Your support of our students and projects is immeasurable and very much appreciated.

What an outstanding welcome my family and I have received from everyone in the WSU and Winona communities!

From WSU campus leadership, to our Foundation staff and board of trustees, and the greater community, my family and I thank you all and look forward to making Winona home for years to come.

Go Warriors!

Jon Olson

Vice President, University Advancement, CEO, WSU Foundation

Total Assets for the WSU Foundation: $64,499,997

A chart showing the relative amounts given by groups in FY20. Alumni donated the most, followed by organizations, retirees, friends, faculty & staff and lastly parents. These gifts total $8,905,569.

WSU Alumnus Leaves a Legacy

Winona State University received a $5.26 million dollar gift from 1950 alumnus Maynard “Mo” Weber, the largest gift in WSU history. Mo died peacefully in his home in Luray, VA on July 26, 2019.

“Mo Weber’s generosity and love of WSU knew no bounds,” said WSU President Scott R. Olson. “He helped kindle Winona State’s love of beautiful art as well as our love of Warrior baseball, and for that and so many other reasons, we will be forever grateful to him.”

Weber came to Winona in the 1940s, following his military service during the second World War.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in education at Winona State, and spent his time helping to coach baseball, a passion that led Weber to teach and coach at various institutions across the country after graduating.

He was the son of famed painter Max Weber and had gifted several of his father’s paintings to WSU in the past.

Weber made his last visit to WSU, when he returned for Homecoming in 2018, at the age of 94. He loved to talk and reminisce about his time in Winona.

His fondness and loyalty to his alma mater was true. He had even been known to refer to Winona State as the “Harvard of the West.”

Most of Weber’s gift is designated to the WSU Art and Design program through Mo, and his late wife Dorothy’s preexisting scholarships.

Additionally, part of the gift will fund gallery space in the future Laird Norton Center for Art & Design where his father’s paintings will be highlighted.

The remainder of this gift will be used for a Baseball scholarship endowment, the Alumni House, and Sustaining Fund.

Mo Weber smiles surrounded by cheerleaders at WSU Homecoming.

Mo Weber celebrates Homecoming weekend with the Warriors – 2018.

Generosity Keeps Cupboard Stocked

Located in the Integrated Wellness Complex, the Warrior Cupboard is the On-Campus Food Shelf.

The Cupboard’s goal is to ensure students have access to quality food, as well as resources and support on and off campus when they are in need, particularly during the pandemic.

Between the fall graduation on Dec. 11, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, 221 students accessed the Warrior Cupboard and utilized 2,000+ pounds of food.

Since the fund’s inception in 2017, donors have contributed more than $12,000 to keep it stocked, with nearly $8,000 of that since the start of the pandemic!

Shelves stocked with food in the Warrior Cupboard.

A Promise from WSU Faculty

Every hardship prompts a search for silver linings. The Winona State Faculty Association provided one such silver lining with their creation of the Winona State Faculty Promise Scholarship.

The local branch of the IFO (Inter Faculty Organization), found itself with a small surplus of money due to lower expenses during the pandemic.

They donated to community organizations around food insecurity, helped with transporting students to new polling locations and assisted some faculty with emergency situations they found themselves in, due to the pandemic. Then came the idea of a scholarship, which had unanimous support from the WSU Faculty Senate.

The IFO union was built by generations of former faculty, providing a sense of purpose and a mentality of solidarity. The group invested not only their surplus funds from this year, but also a portion of their reserve account to give the scholarship a more
significant start.

“There are just so many things happening right now that ask us to consider ways of stretching ourselves to help others,” IFO President Jenna Chernega said.

“We want to support the financial sustainability of Winona State and we want to support students,especially those who have been most impacted by the pandemic and the racial inequalities that are so present in our state.”

The scholarship name represents the promise in each student who comes to Winona State, as well as a promise faculty make to the students. Chernega sees the exceptional educational opportunities faculty create for their students every day with limited resources.

“They demonstrate an amazing commitment to public higher education and to the students,” she said.

The scholarship is designed to help WSU Admissions recruit students who might not otherwise come here.

The scholarship gives preference to students of color and first-generation students, two populations that experience achievement gaps in Minnesota.

In addition to the initial funds, the union’s donation also includes a matching gift to encourage other donations and bring the scholarship fund to the endowed level where it can support itself.

“I feel truly lucky to work at a place like Winona State with the great faculty we have”, said Chernega. “I hope that this gift will grow and support generations of students to come.”

Student Graduates Debt-Free with WSU Scholarships

Natalie Henke understands what it takes to overcome adversity. Growing up in Lakeville, MN, in a family with four siblings, adversity came early with the death of her father when she was twelve.

She started working 30-40 hours a week at the age of fifteen to ease the financial burden on her single mother. She lived with continual anxiety around financial stability.

Despite these challenges, she graduated from high school with 37 college credits and some savings in the bank.

Natalie knew that choosing a college would be an important decision and based that choice on affordability and the opportunities for personal development.

WSU did not disappoint!

The availability of scholarships was a huge factor and allowed Natalie to concentrate on academics and be highly involved with multiple clubs and boards on campus, serving in many leadership roles.

Majoring in Accounting, Natalie has found the faculty to be supportive, responsive, and inspiring and have genuine care for students. “People became like family and my professors really guided me through.”

Because of the generosity of WSU donors and Natalie’s determination, she will graduate in May, debt-free!

She will go on to sit for the CPA exam and will follow her spring internship at CliftonLarsonAllen with a full-time position as a
Tax and Audit Associate.

Natalie Henke

My high school career was comprised of fear, anxiety, and grief.

My college career has been overflowing with opportunities, personal and academic growth, and financial freedom.

Thank you for helping me turn the page and change my story.

Natalie Henke '21

Accounting Major

The Impact of Scholarship Aid for WSU Students

Due to your generosity, the Winona State University Foundation was able to award $1.8 million in scholarships last year.

This included over 800 scholarships that helped more than 600 students at WSU.


Newly Established Scholarships in FY20

  • Design Service-Learning Scholarship
  • Football Players Association Endowment
  • Frank Brueske Scholarship
  • Gayle Goetzman-Stolpa Scholarship
  • George Floyd Memorial Scholarship
  • Georgia Stiehl Gielau Scholarship
  • Helen Rose (Redig) Kirch Family Scholarship for Special Educators
  • Janis Margaret Meyer Strawmatt Scholarship
  • Lois A. Simons Scholarship
  • Maggy Jacqmin Scholarship in Theatre Arts
  • Marjorie J. Smith Scholarship
  • Mary Moechnig Leppala Scholarship
  • Maynard “Mo” Weber Endowed Baseball Scholarship
  • Mazurkiewicz Medical Lab Sciences Scholarship
  • Nancy Staley Delaney Scholarship
  • Richard & Camille Moll General Engineering Scholarship #2
  • Tracy Bergemann Scholarship for Women in the Quantitative Sciences
  • Will Kitchen Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship

Interested in starting a scholarship?

Fast Facts

  • Cost of one year attendance including tuition, housing & meals, fees, books and personal expenses: $21,730
  • 2020-2021 Enrollment: 7,124
  • First Generation college students make up 37.8% of enrolled students.
  • 94% of all Undergraduate Students received financial aid

Most Popular Undergraduate Majors

  • Nursing
  • Elementary Education
  • Business Administration
  • Biology
  • Exercise & Rehabilitative Science
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Marketing

WSU Foundation Grant Plants Seeds for Interprofessional Program

At the end of 2016, Jennifer Timm, a professor in the WSU Nursing department, submitted a Special Projects application to the WSU Foundation and likely never imagined that the program would still be going strong in 2021.

Her concept, titled on the application as “Interprofessional Collaborative Practice in a Community-Based Primary Care Setting” has become what is now known in the community as “Bridges Health Winona”. Bridges Health Winona is a partnership between Winona State University and multiple community organizations serving at-risk populations.

Bridges Health is a student-led, faculty-guided, interprofessional program that provides a variety of free preventive health, & wellness, and social services in the community.

There is a focus on holistic wellbeing– bridging the gap between individuals and their physical and emotional health.

While free access to basic healthcare, screening, and lifestyle coaching is beneficial to community members who may not otherwise receive the care they need, Bridges also allows health profession students to gain real-life clinical experience working with clients.

Bridges Health has also been able to provide client care and programming virtually since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This allows people to safely get the health support they need and gives students experience integrating technology into their healthcare profession.

A Bridges Health staff person talks to a child about handwashing.

Services are provided by WSU students and supervising clinical faculty from the athletic training, exercise science, nursing, public health, and social
work, undergraduate and graduate programs and collaborative community organizations.

The WSU Foundation Special Projects grant helped fund the tools necessary to plant the seeds and grow the idea of Bridges Health into a program that has helped countless clients and continues providing free health support and wellness promotion to the Winona community.

Because of your generosity, the WSU Foundation was able to contribute an additional $1.4 million to directly support students and academic programming, including special projects like this!

WSU Ranks #1 in Job Placements for Students Post-Graduation

In a recent ranking by Zippia, Winona State University is ranked number one in Minnesota for getting a job.

Zippia, an online recruitment and job insight platform, looked at both undergraduate and graduate job placement and found that among other mid-sized colleges in Minnesota, WSU was number one!

WSU ranked fourth overall in the United States.

WSU graduates sit in the audience during their Commencement Ceremony.

U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 College Rankings

#1 University in the Minnesota State System

#2 among Public Institutions in the State of Minnesota

#5 among all Minnesota Universities, public and private

#10 among all Public Universities located in the Midwest

The university was also ranked among the best Undergraduate Engineering Programs in the nation for its Composite Materials Engineering program, which is the only accredited undergraduate program in the U.S. that offers a Bachelor of Science degree in composite materials engineering.

U.S. News & World Report bases its regional rankings on peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, graduation rate performance, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

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