Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Chancellor Scott Olson

Keaton Riebel
Prior President Scott Olson say his final goodbyes on local radio station KQAL 89.5 on July 31, 2023. Being the President of Winona State University for 11 years, Olson has been a university icon for over a decade. He has now taken the role of being Winona State University Chancelor.

Just this past May, former President of Winona State University Scott Olson was appointed to his new role as Minnesota State Colleges and Universities’ chancellor after 11 years at Winona State University. In August, he began his next occupational adventure in the Minnesota State System, but not before leaving the beautiful city of Winona and the home of around 6,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

Including Winona State, the Minnesota State System includes 26 community and technical colleges as well as seven state universities, all serving approximately 300,000 students. According to the Minnesota State website, it is the third-largest system of two and four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

August 1st of this year was former president Olson’s first day as Chancellor of the Minnesota State System; however, Olson worked his last full day as Winona State University president the day just before, on July 31.

“I was the president of Winona State right up until 6 p.m. on July 31,” Olson stated. “and then my wife picked me up, we got in the car, we drove to St. Paul and then the next morning at 7:55 I was in the office.”

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In the 11 years as president before July 31 at 6 p.m., Scott Olson truly made his mark on WSU. Vice President of Enrollment and Student Life Dr. Denise McDowell reflected on the strides the University made while Olson was her supervisor.

Former president Olson oversaw many changes, improvements and inclusions during his time at WSU. The IWC solar panels, the investment of Education Village, saying goodbye to west campus and even the tradition of bell-ringing at graduation are to name just a few.

“So there’s a lot of fond memories in footprints that are left on the campus that are a byproduct of his season at Winona State University,” McDowell said. “So I think for that, he will always be a part of us and because he’s Chancellor, he’s just not here every day.”

One thing about former president Olson that many people acknowledge frequently was his effort and commitment to attending university events led by students. Anything from sporting events to community events to educational presentations were attended by Olson on a daily basis. McDowell reflected on this practice and the fact that Olson may not have realized the significance of his attendance at these events.

“The importance of his presence, signaled the importance of that event, or the value he placed on the individuals who are participating,” McDowell stated. “He was very much a present president.”

Alizabelle Carman, current president of WSU’s Student Senate, stated that her initial sadness regarding Olson’s departure was followed by the excitement for his new position.

“I know the way he advocates for students will really help in his new position,” Carman said. “Students should know that we haven’t really lost him; he just has an ability to help more students in addition to the students here at Winona State.”

Nicholas Fryer, president of the WSU College Democrats and secretary for WSU’s PRISM, echoed this excitement for Olson being appointed Chancellor of the Minnesota State System.

“This is a great opportunity to make changes to the college system and to make sure that students are getting affordable college tuition in the next few years,” Fryer stated.

Chancellor Olson is well aware of this need for affordable tuition, as it is one of his four main goals for his new position. The financial burden of college housing and classes, combined with basic necessities such as food and water, hinders the success of thousands of students across the state. Olson hopes to make an impact on this issue during his time as Chancellor.

The number one thing Chancellor Olson hopes to achieve while in this new position is in regards to a plan entitled “Equity 2030.” Equity 2030 strives to make college persistence and graduation accessible and equally possible for all students, no matter their race, sexuality, gender, ability, socioeconomic status, etc.

“Everybody in the Minnesota State System office is all in [to equity 2030] and we just have to do that, so that’s the big one,” Olson said. “And it’s important to students, and we’re not there yet; you know, the outcomes are different on each campus and they’re not equitable in every case, and we just have to do that.”

Students were notified of president Olson’s departure in an email sent at the beginning of summer break in May. In the email, Olson informed students of the interim president and the search for a next president for WSU; he also stated how much he is going to miss interacting with students and WSU’s “vibrant campus community.”

“Just like you, I became a Warrior the day I arrived on campus, and I will remain a Warrior forever,” Olson stated in the email’s last line.

The one thing Olson said he’s not going to miss about Winona is the roundabouts, which most students, faculty and community members would probably agree with. Everything else about Winona is something to be missed, however.

“Winona was a huge part of our lives, and maybe for me, one of the happiest times of my life,” Olson said. “So we’ll see what the future holds, but it’s missed.”

Students such as Fryer and Carman are looking for improvements on both a university and a system-wide level, including decreased college tuition and a wider bandwidth for student voices and concerns.

“With a new chancellor brought in, I hope that more student voices will be heard, that more of an agenda gets pushed,” Carman stated. “If anyone can do it, it’s Scott Olson.”

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About the Contributors
Heidi Hanson
Heidi Hanson, Features Editor

Heidi Hanson (she/her/hers) is the Features Editor for the Winonan as of fall 2022. She joined the Winonan during her first semester at WSU, back in fall of 2021. Hanson is currently a third year at Winona State University, majoring in Communication Arts and Literature Teaching with a minor in Communication Studies Teaching.

Besides writing for the Winonan, Hanson is a Resident Assistant at the East Lake Apartments and is a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). She also works as a research assistant for the Communications Department.

For fun, Hanson enjoys reading mystery novels, watching horror movies, and enjoying music from all genres. She also enjoys journaling and exploring the surrounding area of Winona.

Hanson hopes to be a middle or high school English teacher after graduation to spread her love of literature and provide a safe space for future students who go through her English Literature classroom. Before that, however, she hopes to have a fulfilled four years at WSU and grow through work and social experiences.

Keaton Riebel
Keaton Riebel, Photo Editor

Keaton Riebel (she/her/hers) is the photo editor and a photographer for the Winonan and started in the spring of 2023. Riebel is currently a third year at Winona State University, graduating spring of 2024 with a major in Creative Digital Media, and minoring in Photography.

In addition to working for The Winonan, Riebel is also a Resident Assistant for the Sheehan Hall but is also involved in other little clubs on campus.

Outside of school, Riebel loves spending time with friends, exploring, going to live music shows, and taking pictures all the while. She enjoys learning new things and trying new activities, especially outdoors. She also appreciates getting into the local communities and finding out how to be a part of the treasures Winona holds.

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