Thank you to our faculty and staff for delivering quality programming and compassionate student service this year! Their dedication and persistence are what makes WSU special. I appreciate our entire campus community

There are several initiatives happening at Winona State UniversityRochester and in WSU Graduate Studies that we are pleased to provide updates on 

Over the past year, I have been fortunate to help lead our excellent team in coordinating efforts for our campus Mental Wellness Initiative, championing enrollment efforts, promoting passive student programming, expanding community college relationships, analyzing lessons learned during COVID, and opening the second floor of the Broadway building for graduate nursing.  


Wellness Initiative   

As we navigate the end-of-the-year rituals amidst an intense spike in COVID-19 illnesses, we can all make time to for self-care. There are professional groups that are available to provide resources in addition to personal routines that can be employed. We have worked closely with WSU Health & Wellness Services to help share these resources and support systems across campus. Check out the WSU wellness blog for ways to promote wellness for your students, families, and yourself! 

Take 5! Try this 5-Minute Meditation You Can Do Anywhere 



Enrollment Efforts

Enrollment is challenging for universities across the nation, including at Winona State. Despite these challenges, enrollment for undergraduate students in our Rochester programs remains constant, with no big drops, no big jumps. Enrollment in this area is steady.  

Sammie EckersonRecruitment and Admissions Advisor, is working with the admissions and IT teams to create better approaches for prospective students. She has developed the communication pathways for transfer and graduate prospective students for Engage, a new communications system. Thank you to Sammie for serving as our guide in this new system and for our future approach to engaging prospective students! 

Jami Koivisto, Senior Associate Registrar, has been working with our transfer team to welcome students back to Winona State. Students that have not enrolled in the past two semesters or completed their degrees but do have 60-100 credits are being welcomed back to WSU! This outreach effort is a great way to live our mission and ensure that all past students have an opportunity to become alums.   

Graduate enrollment is a completely different story than undergraduate enrollment. We have experienced growth over the last three semesters, seeing an increase of over 20% per semester (Fall 2019 +20.5% , Spring 2020 +23.9%, Summer 2020 +45.5%, Fall 2020 +22.7%). Faculty members and deans have been progressive in their approaches to responding to the demands of prospective graduate students by expanding program options and program accessibility. I have tremendous gratitude to our innovative faculty and graduate students! 


Passive Programming  

Identifying ways to engage with others safely during COVID-19 is challenging. We decided to focus on passive programming within the community, which requires minimaltono interaction outside of our social bubbles 

Check out the Holiday Trees at our Broadway location (400 S. Broadway, Rochester)! We have one huge, beautiful tree in the front entrance that you can see through the door and one on the third-floor landing. The tree on third floor is part of the Hiawatha Homes Holiday Tree walking tour in downtown Rochester.  

We have also been proud to be a part of the COVID Artists Fund Partnership featuring artists Kevin Dobbe and Ben Assef, providing space in our Broadway building to house projectors for their digital displays. Their interactive artwork “Together was installed on November 15 and is illuminated in downtown Rochester every evening from 4:30 until 10:30. The interactive video illuminations will continue until January 1. Check it out! 



Community College Relationships

It’s time to bring the band back together! We have been working to expand relationships between community college advisors and our WSU recruitment and advisor teamsThese relationships are key to our inclusive approach towards transfer students. Together we can ensurthat these students have a smooth academic and social transition to WSU programs. Shout out to Sarah Curtain and Sammie Eckerson for helping to shape this work!  



Lessons Learned

Navigating a pandemic is challenging, but it has also inspired us to try new things… and we have certainly been busy trying all kinds of new things. Here are a few things we have learned: 


  • Tried and tested methods developed in the “before times” resulted in a smoother pivot. 
    • Examples: WeTeach faculty development, laptop program, online career services, advising via Zoom/Teams, facilities cleaning (norovirus) 
    • Organization of content and communication is helpful for everyone (even when we just acknowledge that the situation is unfolding).  
  • Teamwork and trust are crucial. 
    • Teleworking requires teams to trust. This theme came through across the enterprise.
    • Supervisors focusing on outcomes versus “seat time” created an opportunity for staff to feel trusted and empowered.  
  • Infrastructure is key. 
    • WSUR has been training for this moment for years… even if we didn’t know it! 
    • Accessible delivery of programs, student services, and advising while engaging with the community has been a smooth transition during this pandemic. Way to go faculty, staff, students, AND community partners!!! 
    • The IT emergency plan delivered. The teaching support, data access (from home – securely), and data analytics (COVID reporting/ dashboard) have been going well. The talent and problem solvers in these areas created a firm foundation for the mother of all pivots.  
  • New discoveries are welcome (Thank you to Dr. Jana Craft!). 
    • Video lectures that are 5-10 minutes long, recorded, and posted are handier for students to relisten and learn content.   
    • Compassion and caring are the way we do our work at WSU! Now we are trying out ways to foster this part of our relationships virtually. It is different, and it can work! 
    • Students are problem solving through challenges of internet access and engagement during a time of restricted group activities.  



Drum Roll Please…

Graduate Nursing faculty and staff have moved into the second floor of our WSUR Broadway location in downtown Rochester (400 S. Broadway). We are excited to expand our downtown footprint! WSU-Rochester has been a vital part of the Rochester community infrastructure since 1917. In 2017 we began our expansion into the downtown Rochester community as a complement to our space at RCTC. Downtown Rochester is an international destination for advanced health practice and research, and it is important for our faculty and students to contribute to and benefit from the energy and growth in Rochester! We look forward to welcoming you into this new space as soon as it is safe and responsible to gather together in person. 



Looking forward to 2021 and a Post-COVID World

Please connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog for regular updates. Our Student and Campus Services staff are here to provide you with assistance from distance 

Thank you for being with us this year and for helping us all persevere. We look forward to moving with you into a new year and into a bright future for Winona State.