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The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Kenneth Janz’s Plans for Winona 2035

Elly Herrick
Kenneth Janz stands in front of a hundred year old clock gift in the President’s office.

What many students might not know is that Kenneth Janz has been a part of Winona State University for the past 16 years. He spent the first 26 years of his life in North Dakota and got his bachelor’s degree in Teaching from Dickinson State University. Then, he was a high school teacher at West Fargo Public School. He later went to Indiana State University, and at the same time finished his PhD while he was there for the next ten years. At the time, he was the director of the Center for Instruction, Research and Technology and was looking for a Chief Information Officer (CIO) position and found WSU.

“I was super intrigued with Winona State…and I only knew two things about Winona State at the time. I just watched them on CBS, because their basketball team was in the national championship game, and I knew about their one-to-one computing program. That really intrigued me, because I was working in that area of, how do we get everyone the equivalency for the digital tools they use to work?” Janz said. “I applied for the job and got it, and ever since I’ve been here, I’ve just loved it. I’ve loved the people and I’ve loved the community. I think it has a great sense of who we are, and I’ve just enjoyed every day that I come to work.”

During his time here at WSU, Janz was the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and the CIO from 2008 to 2023 as well as working in the Darrell W. Krueger Library since 2015. From his positions, he focused on more IT being integrated into aspects of instruction like D2L, Zoom and other online forums. At the beginning of the school year, Janz was the interim president and from that, he learned that it is no simple nine-to-five job. Throughout the fall school year, many students wondered what the future of the university would be.

“I don’t know much about him, but I’m excited to see what he is going to bring to the table,” Second-year student Rose Cases said. “I expect a president who listens to student voices and promotes student involvement on campus.”

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These past months, the search committee has gone through several interviews with various candidates for the next President of WSU. Chancellor Scott Olson had made a recommendation to the board that would soon affirm that recommendation by announcing Janz as President last week Wednesday.

“I was relieved, I’ll be honest with you, and excited. But I say relieved because, for the last six weeks, we had a lot of decisions that started needing to be made for the fall. I was hesitant to make decisions that would impact the next president, and they weren’t their decisions,” Janz said. “I’d gotten to the point that I really did want the position because I feel like I can make a difference. Every day our faculty and staff try to create an environment where we want students to succeed. And our students are here trying to live their dream as well and I think it is kind of a magic of trying to build community.”

When figuring out a plan for the future of the University, Janz and his constituents want to dive into what it means to have good stewardship of knowledge and if students want to be leaders in community engagement mentioned in the vision statement. Through this thought, they are planning to kick community engagement up a notch. Janz finds value in maintaining a good relationship with WSU and the Winona community. Queue Winona 2035.

“To me, [being a leader has] always been about creating a shared vision of who we can be, and that we can do more together than as individuals. One of the big things I’ll talk a lot about is Winona State 2035,” Janz said. “I expect that we will create a shared understanding of who we want to be over the next year. We’ll have a 10-year plan to work for, a shared common vision of what’s possible…What being a leader is, is creating a shared understanding of where we should go, so we can all start going in the same direction.”

Winona 2035 is a community conversation. Janz describes it as an embodiment of living the mission statement and then making that vision a reality. The vision statement talks about being a student-centered institution. This is why Janz is starting to ask questions about what it takes to be a student-centered institution. Figuring out a way to keep an open conversation with the Winona community is one of the things Janz and his constituents will look into this summer.

“We will have some big open forums. We’ll probably have a website where people can submit ideas. The exact nuts and bolts of how we do that is what we will work out during the summer and then ask for some feedback and then start the process and move forward,” Janz said. “The idea is we will launch the plan in the fall of 2025, of which then we went on to say 2035. We’re 11 years out and we’ll build a 10-year plan.”

On April 9, Janz plans to come to Student Senate during their meeting   the Solarium at 5 p.m. to kick off this open conversation with representatives of the student body.

“I’m going to give them the vision statement and values and say, do these still speak to us? Are these still valid?… I just want to continue the great place Winona is and Winona State is, and keep our eye on the already great student success numbers we have here and continue to improve on that,” Janz said. “Being here over the last 16 years, we have a culture of everyone wanting a voice. It’s trying to honor that in ways that don’t impede us moving forward, but at least having general honest conversations to discuss things.”

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About the Contributor
Elly Herrick
Elly Herrick, Online Editor
Elly Herrick (She/They) is currently the online/social media editor, business manager, features writer, and photographer. Try saying that five times fast. Herrick also works as the Communications Director on Student Senate, a 2023 Orientation Leader, and was newly added on a Tuesday 7-10p.m timeslot on KQAL. They are also the Social media manager for the WSU Pre-Athletic Training Club. Herrick is from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is a second-year student at Winona State University studying Mass Communications: Public Relations with a minor in Advertising, Photography, and Creative Digital Media. They love following challenging and fulfilling stories. They also have a strong passion for writing and giving others a voice. Herrick loves to travel and over the summer, they traveled to Greece, Italy, and Barcelona. They are now saving up and planning on going to New Zealand this winter with their Aunt. Outside of school, they love taking the train and seeing live concerts with friends. They also love sharks and a good book!    

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