Harriet Johnson

Harriet Johnson

Winona State University announced today the auditorium in Somsen Hall will be named for Winona native Harriet Johnson.

Johnson left her entire estate of nearly $1 million to the WSU Foundation to support student scholarships. Her gift endows a fund that will provide a number of scholarships based on merit and need to diligent and committed students from the Winona and area public schools. It is one of the largest single gifts ever made to the university by an individual.

A dedication ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 28, in Harriet Johnson Auditorium, Somsen Hall. The brief program will include remarks by President Scott Olson, Vice President for Advancement Jim Schmidt, WSU Foundation Board Chair Dan Mortensen and Marc Johnson, nephew of Harriet Johnson. A commemorative plaque will also be unveiled. This event is open to the public.

The naming of the Harriet Johnson Auditorium recognizes Johnson’s philanthropy and commitment to education. Johnson grew up three blocks from the Winona State campus. She had deep roots in the Winona community and graduated from Winona Senior High School in 1942. While she never had the opportunity to attend college herself, Johnson held a deep conviction in the value of higher education and the impact that it could make on a young person’s life.

“Over the past decade, Winona State has experienced continual reductions in state appropriations, forcing increases in tuition to maintain quality,” said James Schmidt, vice president for University Advancement. “With the announcement of the Light the Way campaign, the university made a commitment to build scholarship endowments to assist students. Generous gifts like Harriet Johnson’s allow a Winona State University education to remain accessible and affordable to all.”

For more information, contact the WSU Communications Office at 507-457-5024.