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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Dr. Zeller – Dean of College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Karalyn Kolstad
Dr. Zeller poses for a photo in his current office in Maxwell Hall.

Looking ahead into 2024, Winona State University is receiving many fresh faces within the roles of leadership. Among them, Dr. Brian Zeller has been chosen as the new Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. After his many years at Winona State, and with a supportive community beside him, he feels prepared for the transition and next steps ahead.

Dr. Gary Kastello worked alongside Dr. Zeller beginning in 1999 and has remained a colleague and friend ever since. Kastello describes that Zeller has always been a motivated, transparent, and ethical problem solver. Kastello has confidence that Zeller will tackle issues when they first arise, and that he will not shy away from any larger concerns, such as budgetary decisions.

When the opening for the role came up, Zeller applied and went through several days’ worth of interviews, some held in Rochester due to the number of nursing students located there.

“All the candidates for the position were very good, but I assume the confidence, experience and vision for the college are the reasons the committee chose Brian,” Kastello said. “He will be a hands-on leader who will visit every department, faculty member, listen to student needs, and offer creative and pragmatic answers to the academic challenges we face.”

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Zeller has many things to look forward to, but he is eager for a chance to branch out on a larger scale, developing new and meaningful connections with more students and faculty.

“Now, I get to be a member and collaborator with an entire college. And that’s exciting to be able to learn from some really amazing faculty, to be able to see our students succeed in some amazing programs,” Zeller said.

Kristie Stevens currently works for Dr. Zeller within the HERS (Health, Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences) department and has been working with him for several years now. She explains that Dr. Zeller is wise, trustworthy, and knowledgeable, among many things.

“Dr. Zeller has a high level of emotional intelligence. He is transparent, fair and dignified. He is highly respected by his peers, students and all who know him,” Stevens said.

Stevens continues to describe that Zeller is easily approachable to students, and with his years of experience, he is a born leader.

Zeller began at Winona State in 2000, beginning as the co-head athletic trainer. From there he moved on to work as a clinical education coordinator, before becoming a full-time faculty member. He has been the clinical coordinator, the program director for the athletic training, and he even assisted in the development of a new master’s program.

“I want to see our academic programs continue to grow. I want to look at opportunities for our students to gain more success. I want to enhance some of our collaborations that we already have when you think about our college,” Zeller said.

Zeller mentions that the College of Nursing and Health Sciences is a clinical-based college partnering and working with hospitals, clinics, sports, social work, rehabilitation, strength, conditioning as well as education.

Zeller still serves as program director and has been the department chair for nine years within the Health and Exercise Rehabilitative Sciences Department. Zeller mentions that Winona State has had amazing Deans and faculty that have paved the way for him in his new role.

“Dr. Shelly Nelson, who was our program director for the athletic training program for a number of years, was our department chair,” Zeller said. “She was a huge mentor for me, because when I came in we were the two faculty in the athletic training program and so learning underneath her was tremendous.”

Zeller feels supported and confident stepping into this new role, and one thing he appreciates is the fact that he has time for the transition. He is eager to learn about the needs of faculty and students in each department so that he is ready for the role by July 1st.

“I did not ever want to leave Winona State. I’ve been here for 24 years. I can’t imagine being at another institution. And so, I was never going to look for a dean position somewhere else,” Zeller said. “This was my chance to take on that leadership role, and to hopefully do a good job at it.”

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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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