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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Winona State and MnSCU appoint new executives

Jordan Gerard/ Winonan

Winona State University and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) have appointed Valerie DeFor and Jeanine Gangeness to executive positions.

Valerie DeFor has served as HealthForce’s interim executive director since August 2013 and has worked for HealthForce since 2010.

HealthForce Minnesota, an organization established in 2005, finds ways to meet the needs of the health care industry. It works with MnSCU universities and state agencies to meet the industry and employer’s needs, such as increasing the number of healthcare workers and improving education for healthcare students.

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“I know and understand it,” DeFor said. “I hope to continue to build workforce needs including continuation of mental health workforce development plan for Minnesota and carry it forward.”

DeFor holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Arizona State University.

HealthForce has three divisions, which are partner sites, such as the Winona State-Rochester campus, project sites and education sites, such as the Winona campus. DeFor will work on the Rochester campus.

“We’re grateful to be housed at WSU. It’s a great community,” DeFor said. “We’re happy to be on campus and work with a team and even greater programs.”

DeFor said she would also like to continue the Scrubs Camps that are partnered with local middle schools and high schools.

Scrubs Camp is a two-to-six day event where middle school and high school students can explore careers in the health science field with hands-on interactive activities.

DeFor said HealthForce also supports faculty going to national conferences to speak about what they do at Winona State, and they bring things back they have learned.

“I’m excited. I feel honored being appointed the director. It’s a great team doing important work,” DeFor said. “There’s a need for a good healthcare workforce because it’s going to be there a long time. I am humbled to be in that role.”

Winona State University will have a new Associate Vice President for the 2015-2016 school year.

Jeanine Gangeness will take office on July 1, 2015, working mostly on the Rochester campus and said she would be in Winona at least one day per week.

Her duties will include serving as the chief academic and operations administrator on the Winona State University-Rochester campus, working closely with deans, faculty and staff to develop both undergraduate and graduate programs, and connect the students with the communities.

“I’m excited to work with WSU. The people are great, and it’s already a great program,” Gangeness said. “I want to expand adult programming in Rochester, connect the campus more with the community and rural areas and also expand the graduate programs.”

Gangeness holds a Master of Science and Ph.D. in nursing from the University of North Dakota and previously served as the founding dean of the Bemidji State University School of Nursing.

She mentioned she already knows a few colleagues who previously worked at Bemidji State University.

She said she hopes to do a lot of collaboration work such as connecting community members and community colleges to Winona State and connect the industry to college, so students have those skill sets they need to get internships and jobs.

Gangeness said her methodology to accomplish this is similar to a small business mindset. She said she wants to take the program and determine if the university can hire faculty to run it and set up a budget for expense, taking the revenue to make the program better.

“I’ve done this with four universities in northern Minnesota. My goal is to see what the students want and need and then expand that,” Gangeness said.

Gangeness said the Rochester and Winona campus are already well connected, because they are under the same leadership that has made a long-term commitment to Winona State.

“I bring a piece that I’m leading and committed to and connect it with Winona,” Gangeness said. “It’s so exciting and interesting going to a new community. I am thrilled to be part of the team.”

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