WSU Tree PlantingAnother year is ending, and another fall semester has come to a close, marked by Winona State Commencement exercises Dec. 8, where we honored the success stories of almost 500 new alumni and alumnae as they embarked upon their hopes and dreams.

At its core, Winona State is an educational institution. Every day we learn new things and impart new wisdom, and I have objective evidence when I assert that we are really, really good at what we do. (Read more about our “Notes of Success” on my inSights blog.) We do a better job of embodying our mission than any other institution I know, and I am exceedingly proud of us for that. While much of our education occurs by way of intention and determination, there are also very important lessons to be learned from mistakes, inexperience and lack of understanding—both our own and that of others. When confronted with such instances, we should pause to reflect on our mission, and seek opportunities to spread learning, to share our perspective and to improve the world around us.

As we close out 2017, I find myself considering the fresh promise and opportunity of a new year. In the new year I would like to see us redouble our efforts to create engaged learning experiences, taking every opportunity to create fulfilling learning experiences that can greatly impact the health, behaviors, and well-being of our community. I would like to see us seek broader understanding of each other, our world, and our own selves, assisted by the cultural competency training we will offer, the Free Speech Values Commission we are establishing, and the learning process we are embarking upon through the Campus Climate Survey. And finally, I would like to see us treat each other with the same respect and kindness we would ask others to treat us with—to seek educational solutions over punishment, to choose living our mission over righteous anger.

Since 1858, WSU has been a place where hopes and dreams are launched. As WSU has grown less homogeneous, our opportunities to learn from each other and to hold bigger hopes and dreams have multiplied a thousand-fold. They will multiply a million-fold and ripple throughout time if we first address each challenge as a community, as a new opportunity for learning … and, I suppose, as another chance for improving our world. Thank you for your part in enacting and embodying that mission!

Sincerely yours,

Scott R. Olson

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Dr. Scott R. Olson was appointed the 15th president of Winona State University on May 16, 2012. He has published two books, 30 book chapters and 22 journal articles in publications in the United States, Canada, China, Korea, Poland, Russia, and India. He has delivered over 100 papers at conferences in Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Korea, Poland, Taiwan and the United States. Through a $20 million gift from the Lilly Endowment he was able to create the Global Media Network (which won a national award from the American Council on Education) and the Center for Media Design.

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