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Winona State University (2008)

Brief Description:

Founded in 1858 as Winona State Normal School, Winona State University is a comprehensive, regional public university with more than 8,000 students.

After it received authorization to grant the bachelor’s degree in 1921, the normal school became Winona State Teachers College; and just before celebrating its centennial was renamed Winona State College to reflect an expanded mission and academic program. Finally, in 1975, it became know as Winona State University, with five colleges: Business, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Science and Engineering. It is the oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Three campuses now comprise the University: the original Winona campus, the Winona West campus, and the WSU-Rochester Center.


Mission Statement:

The mission of Winona State University is to educate and enlighten our citizenry at a distinctive institution: a community of learners improving our world.

President's Quote:

“We are the shared creation of an extraordinary group of people who care deeply about being part of a community of learners and about the responsibility of putting our knowledge and skill to good use….Winona State University is also a product of this special place along the banks of the Upper Mississippi. We have been an integral part of this community from the very beginning when the citizens of the City of Winona contributed $7000 to secure the right to establish the first Normal School west of the Mississippi in the same year that Minnesota became a state.” -- Judith A. Ramaley, President



Major Accomplishments:

  •  The WSU men’s basketball team was the NCAA Division II National Champion in 2006 and 2008.
  • More than 78 percent of 2007 incoming freshmen graduated in the top half of their high school class. Entering freshmen averaged 23 on the ACT, nearly two points higher than the national average (36 is the highest achievable ACT score).

  • WSU has the nation’s only undergraduate program in composite materials engineering.

  • WSU's Center for Mississippi River Studies is an interdisciplinary collaborative that recognizes the Mississippi River as a remarkable resource for research, outreach and education. A focal point is the River Explorer, a 64-foot vessel that functions as "a floating classroom."

  • In partnership with the National District Attorneys Association WSU houses the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC). NCPTC is implementing a comprehensive plan to eliminate child abuse in the United States.

  • WSU is ranked one of the top 50 universities for access to wireless technology as ranked by Intel and published in U.S. News & World Report.

  • Winona State has been named among the "Best in the Midwest" by The Princeton Review for five consecutive years. Winona State is the only Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System member to receive the designation.

  • Winona State University ranks as a “Top Tier” institution in the 2009 listing of America's Best Colleges published by U.S. News & World Report.

  • Institutional Research and Evaluation (IRE) has named Winona State University as one of “America's 100 Best College Buys” for 13 consecutive years. Winona State is the only Minnesota school included in this independent ranking of the value and quality of colleges and universities across the nation.


Fun Facts:

  • When Minnesota was just 93 days old it enacted legislation that established a normal school system. Winona was the first city to raise the money and land needed to earn the distinction as the first public normal school in Minnesota, and the first west of the Mississippi.
  • Winona State Normal school opened in 1860 but closed two years later when Principal John Ogden (now called President) left to fight in the Civil war.

  • It reopened in 1864 under the leadership of Principal William Phelps who was instrumental in establishing the “model school” approach to teacher education.

  • In 1866 the first class of 14 graduated after three full days of oral examinations open to the public.

  • President Shepard (1879-1898) expanded the model school to include kindergarten (the first west of the Mississippi), an innovation for its time. This led to the first program for kindergarten teacher training in the state. The model school was later known as the Phelps School.

  • As the permanent secretary for the National Education Association, President Shepard built an addition to his home to house the NEA offices.

  • Winona State originated the idea of summer school in 1897 until jealous rivals encouraged the State Normal School Board to shut down the enterprise because the other normal schools could not afford the sessions.

  • In 1917 began offering classes in Rochester, MN.

  • In 1921 became Winona State Teachers College and was authorized to grant the bachelor’s degree.

  • In 1922 the first permanent building, Old Main, burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances. The Winona community rallied its support and classes resumed within days in buildings and churches throughout the city.

  • College Hall, now named Somsen Hall, was built in its place in 1924.

  • 1938 - The original Maxwell Library was made possible through private gifts and Works Progress Administration (WPA) grants. Currently houses the National Child Protection Training Center.

  • In 1957 became Winona State College as degree programs were expanded to include BA, MS in education, and AA.

  • In the 1960s the baby boomers hit college age and WSU saw an enrollment explosion and subsequently a building boom. Ten new buildings were constructed during that decade.

  • President Darrell Kruger was instrumental in closing the streets that criss-crossed the campus and transforming it into a garden oasis. The current library is named after him. o In 1975 became Winona State University.

  • Current President Judith Ramaley is leading Winona State University in its commitment to addressing climate change and sustainability through partnerships with area governments and educational institutions.

  • NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Champions – 2006. They continued their success with a record-breaking 57 game winning streak in 2007, and repeated as champions in 2008.
  • Current enrollment is over 8,000 with approximately 400 faculty.

  • Campus has expanded to include West Residential Campus, East Lake Apartments, and Rochester Center campus.

  • Total enrollment: 8,274; 62% are female, 38% are male o States represented: 31, countries represented: 47 o 80% of students receive financial aid.

  • $3.7 million in scholarships awarded annually.

  • Student/Faculty ratio 21:1

  • WSU graduates more than 200 nurses and 150 teachers every year. o Warrior men and women athletes earned a 3.14 overall GPA in 2007-2008.

  • WSU students devote more than 15,000 hours a year to local youth mentoring programs.


Notable Alumni:

Tim Penny ‘75


Former U.S. Congressman, former MN State Senator and current President of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. As a member of the Minnesota Senate, Penny served as vice-chair of the Transportation and Finance committees.  Among other issues, Penny's areas of emphasis included student financial aid, rural and rail transportation and regulatory reform.  While in Congress, Penny served on the Education and Labor, Agriculture and Veterans' Affairs committees.  He chaired the Subcommittee on Veterans' Education and Training and the Foreign Agriculture and Hunger Subcommittee.  

Martin R. Lueck ‘78

Chairman of the Executive Board in the national law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P. In 2003, he was named one of 15 Minnesota Attorneys of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer, and in 2004, he was recognized as one of the nation's top ten litigators by the National Law Journal. In 2007, Lueck was named a “Super Lawyer” by Minnesota Law & Politics and became a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, an organization that limits itself to just 5,000 members among the nation's nearly 1,000,000 lawyers. Earlier this year he was named a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Patrick Knoll ‘86

Known for his award-winning television ads for clients such as Anheuser-Busch and McDonald’s, he is one of the most recognized names in advertising. Knoll, who graduated with a degree in mass communications, is vice president and creative director at DDB Worldwide in Chicago. He has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and was USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter winner in 2006.



  • “I really appreciate the relationships you can have with your professors. Mine have given me their home phone numbers!” — Kyle Rodenkirk ‘06 
  • “Having a notebook laptop is one of the best things about Winona State. It’s great to connect with teachers electronically, to utilize my laptop almost anywhere on campus, and to be so up-to-date with the latest technology.” — Ellis Minor ‘08  

  • “The best thing about Winona State is how accepted you are by the campus community and people around town. I love the close campus atmosphere, too. It’s so much nicer than dodging cars and fighting traffic.” — Pete Kucharas ‘06  

  • “I’ve done research in three departments – something I couldn’t have done at any other university. What’s more, I have been a chemistry teaching assistant, a math tutor, and an engineering grader. These opportunities provided a review of the material and led to more research opportunities.” — Joanna Zanmiller ‘05  


  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662