Alumni donates new campus letters


Shannon Galliart

The new “WSU” letters were placed in the center of campus outside Phelps Hall at the end of September. They can be found right next to the gazebo in the middle of campus.

Caitlyn Goette, News Reporter

Giant “WSU” letters have been put up outside of Phelps Hall by the gazebo, as a gift to Winona State University by alumni Bill Koutsky.

Koutsky, a former student, graduated in 1975 with a degree in speech communications. After working several different jobs, Koutsky later returned to Winona State where he worked in in the facilities department for about 12 years. He retired in 2013.

The letters were entirely Koutsky’s idea. He wanted Winona State to have a photo op destination that could be shared across social media. They were a surprise for the campus and the community.

Koutsky serves the community through various clubs and organizations, and is an honorary member of the WSU Dance Society for his on-going support though his scholarships for the WSU theater, music and dance programs.

In 2015, Koutsky was honored with Winona State University’s Distinguished Service Award as a part of the university’s Homecoming celebration.

Debra Block, director of development, described Koutsky’s current Warrior pride.

“He bleeds purple. If you have a conversation with Bill, you will end up talking about how wonderful WSU is … he is a Warrior through and through,” Block said.

Much thought was put into where the best spot for the WSU letters would be on campus.

Assistant Vice President for Facilities James A. Goblirsch took part in the selection process for the location of the letters.

There were several other places that were considered for the location of the letters including the lawn in front of Somsen where smaller letters were placed initially. The main area around the library, Minné and Kryzsko were also looked at, but there was not a seemingly good spot in these areas.

This ultimately led to the location the letters stand now, in front of Phelps Hall by the gazebo in the center of campus.

“We wanted to put them in a prominent location on campus that had a good backdrop … Phelps being a historic building is a nice backdrop,” Goblirsch said.

Goblirsch also said the letters are right along the graduation processional walk, which provides a great opportunity for pictures for Winona State graduates.

Winona State not only wanted the letters in a prominent location, but they also wanted them to be enjoyed by everyone. This is what led them to tear out the grass and place sidewalk there instead.

“We wanted to have a place that was fully accessible so that everybody could stand around it … that’s why we put them on a new piece of sidewalk,” Goblirsch said.

First-year, Morgan Schaefer, nursing major agrees that the location of the letters is a perfect spot on campus.

“Everybody gets to see them because they walk through right by the gazebo,” Schaefer said.

Goblirsch said he believes that the letters are a great addition to campus.

“It’s something that has a sense of playfulness to it and it’s a nice student experience and public experience to have on campus,” Goblirsch said.