Winona State listens to the community

Winona State listens to the community

Madelyn Swenson, News Editor

Winona State University held a community conversation Thursday, Sept. 21 to discuss aspects the university could improve on or already does well.

Kendra Weber, director of student and community engagement, said members of the Winona State community want “folks to come and tell us what they are looking for, what is going well and what they wish would happen.”

There were five tables with a facilitator at each table, a discussion type called World Café. Participants were able to move around at their own leisure to answer questions that concerned them.

Kori Iverson, program coordinator for Elder Network, attended the event to get to know other businesses for possible collaboration. Elder Network also would like to get their name out on campus to be able to recruit volunteers.

Jennifer Davis, business developer for Express Employment and the college liaison for Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), said that there are “no issues on my side, just opportunity.”

After about an hour and half, Winona State President Scott Olson, vice president for university advancement and director of the Winona State University foundation, Ron Dempsey and dean of the college of business, Hamid Akbari, arrived for the share out of the common themes mentioned.

One of the most common themes mentioned was that Winona State needs to communicate with the community better, both in person and online.

Many participants said that they never knew that Winona State offered so many different programs, like the Warrior Innovate event next week.

However, one participant compared the university as being a “community center.” She said that there are many free and interesting events that happen on campus and that it is a shame that many are unaware of them.

It was also stated that there needed to be more ways for businesses to communicate with faculty and students.

Suzanne Hortsman of Home and Community Options said that every one of their employees love the attitudes that students bring with them when they work for them. Home and Community Options wants to hire more students, much like many businesses in Winona.

The issue for many is the lack of knowledge of how to get their names out there.

A lot of the businesses said that sometimes job fairs are hard to participate in because companies have to pay to participate. There is not a lesser fee for smaller businesses or for non-profits.

Many businesses also did not know about the Warrior Jobs site that many students use to find a job.

They would also like for there to be more job fairs on campus, or one later in the year. Many students, especially freshman are not looking for a job at the very beginning of the year.

Weber said she was pleased when asked about how she believed the event went.

Weber and a few other staff members will discuss what was mentioned at the event. They will try to find solutions for some of the issues, so the next time the event occurs they can be things that the university is doing right.