Winona State celebrates alumni donors


Nikko Aries

Left to right: Seniors Samantha Reichert and Kamille Flandrena wrote letters to donors. The Alumni Association asked students to fill out postcards to donors and the students were rewarded with free ice cream.

Lauren Gennerman, Features Reporter

September 11-18, Winona State University’s I Love WSU Week celebrated alumni donors and showed current students how much giving back can make a difference.

Matthew Ohs, assistant director for annual giving, was a main leader for the event this year.

“[I Love WSU Week] is important because donors have really impacted just about everything we do here,” Ohs said. “We have the Integrated Wellness Center. The building itself, as well as all the fitness equipment, is paid for by both student fees and through a massive capital campaign about a decade ago. Everything in there was basically done by donors.”

Donations from alumni contributed to the Krueger Library and artwork around campus, as well as the Alumni Gazebo. Even though a significant amount of donations help students attend Winona State.

“Each year, the foundation awards $1.3 million in scholarships to students. These are all privately funded by donors, alumni, friends and people associated with the university,” Ohs said. “These affect about one in eight Winona State students, representing one of the largest impacts around campus.”

Last week marked the third year the Winona State University Foundation has hosted the series of events honoring donors that occur throughout the week.

This year’s I Love WSU Week culminated in a rally last Thursday. The rally featured live music from Karate Chop, Silence and performances from the cheer and dance teams, as well as student athlete representatives who promoted their sporting events, including women’s rugby, volleyball and football. Students were also offered free ice cream if they filled out a thank you note for donors.

Many students and faculty gathered around the Gazebo where the rally was held, including Erik Derby, a freshman public health major.

“I [find] it inspiring that our community at Winona can so easily band together for a common cause to honor our donors,” Derby said. “A lot of people don’t always know how much those contributions do for us and it was really cool to see people learn.”The rally wasn’t the only way I Love WSU Week was celebrated. Around campus, tags with the I Love WSU logo were placed on items that were there because of donations, such as benches, trees, artwork and more.

To give more donors a chance to contribute, an

online campaign throughout the week offered a way for people to give back to the Winona State  campus.

“I Love WSU Week is just one of the many ways we are trying to connect alumni back to campus,” Ohs said. “We have some other fundraising initiated and mini-campaigns going on for things like stadium renovations, the Laird Norton Center for Art and Design, the Education Village, the Haitian Village [and] College of Business Endowment, as well as more college scholarships.”

Ohs stressed how big of an impact these donations have for the Winona State campus and students.

“Even if they can’t make a large donation, every small donation makes a difference,” Ohs said.

If donors could not make a donation this past week, Ohs said this was one of many fundraising events this year, so donors still have time to make a difference for students at Winona State.