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

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University Improvement Day: Students, Faculty and Staff Unite

Students+and+staff+gather+for+a+presentation+about+a+student+life+plan+during+University+Improvement+Day.+Here+they+discussed+how+they+can+be+a+well-rounded+and+well-developed+student.
Karalyn Kolstad
Students and staff gather for a presentation about a student life plan during University Improvement Day. Here they discussed how they can be a well-rounded and well-developed student.

Winona State University hosted its University Improvement Day just last week. Bringing together faculty, students, and staff alike, University Improvement Day is quite simply a time to navigate a vision for the future.

Winona State hosted many sessions to hold important conversations. Some of the topics from the sessions included a Campus Climate Survey, University Vision, a Culturally Responsive and Anti-racist Pedagogy Panel, and Non-Academic Unit Benchmarking.

The event is designed to address any changes and create solid plans to carry out the vision. Many students explained that they were glad the university set aside an entire day to address concerns and gather current information. One student at the event addressed the importance of the event.

“I think it’s important to have a date designated to that and not just something that’s like, fill out a survey while you have like a whole bunch of courseload to do, you know like, let’s take a day to sit down and talk about it,” (Source A).

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Dr. Denise McDowell is the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life. McDowell facilitated the Student Life Plan session alongside Dean Karen Johnson.

“One of the University Goals for 2023-2024 is the development of a robust WSU Student Life Plan that aligns with WSU’s mission and values,” McDowell said. “A Student Life Plan, at its core, supports students’ well-being and promotes being fully vested in becoming the best well-rounded version of self.”

When asked about some of the potential concerns as of 2023, McDowell stated that it can vary, and there are several areas of focus this year.

As far as faculty and staff, McDowell mentioned issues such as enrollment and demographics, funding, and resources. Regarding students, issues include mental health, affordability, inclusiveness, basic needs, learning and engagement.

“The session was the first of many related to a framework around 12 elements that align with engaged learning, feeling welcomed, a sense of belonging, and creating community,” McDowell said.

When asked how Winona State could improve, Paige Kelly, Resident Assistant this year, explained that RAs could work to be more inclusive. Kelly also explained that professors could be more in line with policies and communicate better with their students.

In addition to student, faculty and staff concerns, another recent event has sparked much discussion. In May 2023, President Scott Olson became Chancellor of Minnesota State. To take his place during the Presidential Search, Dr. Kenneth Janz temporarily fills the role as interim president.

One of the final sessions on University Improvement Day was a hearing for the Presidential Search. Several students shared what they hoped to find in a new president, and each response displayed a common theme: students want someone who is actively involved on campus.

Reagan, a first-year student at Winona State, described the ideal candidate as someone who takes part in the lives of students and is willing to address problems.

Samantha, another first-year student said, “Somebody personable, easy to walk up to and talk to. Again, like advertising themselves. I want to know who it is. Yes, half the time, I have no idea.”

Even through tremendous change, Winona State University has much potential moving forward, and many are eager to find out what comes next.

“I am inspired by the energy on campus,” McDowell said. “Conversations about promoting an inclusive and welcoming community of learners fill my heart with joy.”

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About the Contributors
Karleigh Johnson, News Reporter
Karleigh Johnson (she/her/hers) is a reporter for the Winonan as of fall 2023. She started off at North Hennepin Community College and transferred to Winona State University in her third year to Major in Creative Digital Media and Minor in both Film Studies and Spanish. 
 
After attending Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion, Karleigh continues to have a passion for the Spanish language and culture. She studied in Spain through Winona State University in May of 2023. Karleigh enjoys travel, art, writing, photography and videomaking. 
 
Karleigh participated in the Disney College Program in Spring 2022 and became a Disney Trainer. After graduation, she hopes to return to Disney by working for one of the many media and entertainment companies Disney owns. Her dream is to write her own television show inspired by comedic styles of The Office, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, and many others.
Karalyn Kolstad, Photographer
Karalyn Kolstad (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Winonan. This is Karalyn's first semester with The Winonan. She is a third-year student at Winona State University majoring in Medical Laboratory Science. She is also the secretary of the Biology Club on campus. Outside of school, Karalyn enjoys hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and reading. 

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