For the first time in more than 30 years, when Winona State University’s fall semester kicks off in August, there will be no residential students on the university’s West Campus. 

Creating a cohesive residence life community has been a goal for Winona State for many years, as reflected in the university’s 2017 Comprehensive Campus Master Plan. 

“While the West Campus has been a great addition to WSU for many years, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to enhance the feel of our campus,” WSU President Scott R. Olson said. 

Centralizing residential facilities on the Main Campus will give students more opportunity to be engaged with the campus community, better access to campus resources, and will cut down on travel time to and from classes.  

“We’re finding that students would prefer walking to class, to the library, and to campus activities rather than ride a shuttle bus from West Campus back and forth,” Olson said. “This is part of a long-term plan to create a walkable residential campus.” 

The move will impact about 200 students, who registered for housing last month. University officials are working actively with affected students to ensure their housing needs are being met. 

No employee or student jobs will be lost due to the move from West Campus, and the consolidation of residential facilities will allow the university to re-balance food service costs, eliminate the cost of the West Campus shuttle, and decrease maintenance and operation costs. 

With lowered enrollment projections–due in part to demographic shifts–and increased interest in online and remote learning options, Fall 2021 became the perfect opportunity to push forward with the strategic plan. 

In addition to centralization of residential facilities, the university’s long-term goals also include upgrading residential halls to reflect the standards set by incoming students.  

“We envision offering more modernized housing on our main campus,” Olson said. “Students today prefer a more home-like environment than the dormitories of generations past.” 

As the WSU community says goodbye to an era, many recall fond memories of the role West Campus played during their time at WSU. 

The Campus, which includes Lourdes Hall, Maria Hall and Tau Center, first became a part of Winona State in the 1990’s. Lourdes Hall was established as Minnesota’s first public Residential College, with the vision of creating a living-learning environment in which students and faculty formed tightly-knit learning communities to enhance the quality of education. 

President Olson and his wife, Kelley, can attest to the close-knit communities that formed on WSU’s West Campus. In 2012, when the couple first moved to Winona, they lived in Lourdes for several months and were impressed and moved by the friendships and camaraderie they witnessed. Both of which they got a taste of when their birthdays landed near the WSU Homecoming celebration. 

“After coming back from a fun day of Homecoming festivities, there was a knock on the door,” Olson said. “The whole floor of students was waiting outside, and they had baked Kelley and I each a birthday cake in the kitchen down the hall.” 

Olson said they were both struck by the kindness of the students. 

“That level of thoughtfulness characterizes WSU student then and to this day,” he said. “That’s just one example of how they are a community of learners improving our world.”  

For more information, call WSU Communications at 507-457-5024. 

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Tesla Mitchell

Named after the 80's rock band, Tesla Mitchell has a decade of experience covering local news and features as a journalist in Winona. A Saint Mary's University alumna, Tesla graduated with a bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in political science and entrepreneurship. During her free time, Tesla enjoys organizing block parties, being a super mom and an avid heavy weightlifter.