Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Coordinates: 44°08′48″N 93°59′53″W / 44.146617°N 93.998117°W / 44.146617; -93.998117

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Motto Big Ideas. Real-world Thinking.
Type Public
Flagship University
Established 1868
Endowment $50.6 million[1]
Budget $216.0 million[2]
President Richard Davenport
Academic staff
750 full-time[3]
Administrative staff
Students 17,993 (Fall 2014)[4]
Undergraduates 16,143
Postgraduates 1,770
Location Mankato, Minnesota, U.S.
Campus Mid-size city
303 acres (123 ha)
Colors Purple & Gold          
Athletics NCAA Division IINorthern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
Nickname Mavericks
Mascot Stomper
Affiliations American Association of State Colleges and Universities
Campus Compact
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Website www.mnsu.edu
Minnesota State University, Mankato Logo.svg

Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU or MNSU), also known as Minnesota State, is a public comprehensive university located in Mankato, Minnesota. The university sits atop the bluff of the Blue Earth River valley, approximately 75 miles (121 km) southwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Founded as Mankato Normal School in 1868, it is the second oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. It is also the second largest public university in the state and has over 115,000 alumni worldwide.[5][6] It is the most comprehensive of the seven universities and is referred to as the flagship of the Minnesota State Universities and Colleges system.[7][8][9] It is an important part of the economy of South-Central Minnesota as it adds more than $452 million to the economy of Minnesota annually.[10]

Minnesota State offers 140 undergraduate programs of study, 80 graduate programs and 4 doctoral programs. Students are served by 750 full-time faculty members creating a 21:1 student to faculty ratio. In addition to the main campus, it operates two satellite campuses: one in the Twin Cities suburb of Edina and the other in Owatonna. Through the College of Extended Learning it provides bachelor's degrees at the Normandale Partnership Center and programs online through an online campus.


Early years[edit]

The State Legislature recognized the need for an education center in southern Minnesota by 1860. In 1866 it authorized the development of a state run normal school and Mankato was selected for the site. Through the efforts of local attorney/state legislator Daniel Buck, the newly formed City of Mankato donated $5,000 and raised $5,000 in bonds for the founding of the second state normal school, Mankato Normal School.[11] The first classes were held in 1868 with an enrollment of 27 students. The institution's original mission was to train and educate teachers for rural schools in southern Minnesota. During this early period, Mankato Normal School provided educational certificates and a majority of students were women.[12] In relation to this focus on women's education, Mankato Normal School is noted as the first public college in the United States to be headed by a woman, suffragette Julia Sears, in 1872.

State Teachers College[edit]

By 1921, the school had grown significantly to the point that it began to offer 4 year bachelor's degrees. As a result, it was renamed the Mankato State Teachers College. Enrollment then dipped during World War II and the college refocused it's extension programs on providing education to members of the Works Progress Administration and Naval Corps.[12]

Rapid post World War II expansion[edit]

During the post World War II period, student enrollment expanded greatly. The original university buildings were then located in what was known as the Wilson Campus. It was located geographically down the hill in lower Mankato. The size and footprint of the Wilson Campus could not sustain the space needed to handle the growing student body. By the late 1950s work began on constructing an entirely new, modern campus atop the river valley bluff. This became the Highland Campus.[12] A new experimental elementary school was built on the Highland Campus to research and apply new teaching methods.

Transition to comprehensive university[edit]

By 1957, the mission of the institution had broadened to broad 4-year college education, the state legislature changed the name of the college to Mankato State College. The following years saw additional enrollment growth. The Wilson Campus was eventually sold to a private developer and the Highland Campus grew in size.[12]

In 1975, the college was renamed to Mankato State University. This change reflected a further 40% growth in the student body to 12,000 students by 1972.[11] Following this period was a movement toward increasing the number of available programs including science, technology, engineering, health sciences and others. The university became more comprehensive in its programmatic offerings.

Change to Minnesota State University[edit]

Minnesota State University Entrance Sign - Built in 2008, the sign is carved out a single block of Kasota stone, which is a local building material only found in the area.

In 1995, the seven state universities were transferred to the newly created Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system by the state legislature. Shortly after this, the University was renamed Minnesota State University, Mankato in 1998 in recognition of its significant contribution to the state's higher education system.[13] This name change was also intended to broaden recognition of the university in the Midwest region. In 2007, in another major milestone - the University was authorized to begin offering applied doctoral degrees.[14]


The University has previously been named:

  • Mankato Normal School 1868–1921
  • Mankato State Teachers College 1921–1957
  • Mankato State College 1957–1975
  • Mankato State University 1975–1998
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato 1998–present

Organization and administration[edit]

University presidents
President Years[15]

George M. Gage 1868-72
Julia A. Sears 1872-73
Rev. David C. John 1873-80
Edward Searing 1880-98
Charles H. Cooper 1898–1930
Dr. Frank D. McElroy 1930-46
Dr. Clarence L. Crawford 1946-65
Dr. James F. Nickerson 1966-73
Dr. Douglas R. Moore 1974-78
Dr. Margaret R. Preska 1979-92
Dr. Richard R. Rush 1992–2001
Dr. Karen Boubel 2001-02
Dr. Richard Davenport 2002–present

The university is organized into 8 discipline specific colleges. Academic programs, schools and extended learning are divided among them. These units are:

  • College of Allied Health and Nursing[16]
  • College of Arts and Humanities[17]
  • College of Business[18]
  • College of Education[19]
  • College of Science, Engineering and Technology[20]
  • College of Social and Behavioral Sciences[21]
  • College of Graduate Studies and Research[22]
  • College of Extended Learning[23]

In addition to the academic units, there are several other research centers and state created units:

  • The Center on Aging
  • The Minnesota Center for Transportation Research
  • The Center for Excellence in Scholarship and Research
  • The Minnesota Center for Modeling and Simulation
  • The Kessel Institute for Peace and Change
  • The Minnesota Center for Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence
  • The Minnesota Center for Rural Policy and Development
  • Small Business Development Center
  • Southern Minnesota Historical Center
  • The Urban and Regional Studies Institute
  • The Water Resources Center


University rankings
Forbes[24] 615
U.S. News & World Report[25] 69
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[26] 412

Minnesota State University currently offers 140 undergraduate programs of study, 14 preprofessional programs, and 82 graduate programs. The university provides a comprehensive education, each undergraduate program of study includes general requirements for students to learn mathematics, writing, cultural diversity, speech, information technology and the environment. As part of its quality education, it is also one of the top producing universities in the country of its type that participates in the Fulbright Scholar program.[27] It has produced 8 Student awards in the past 10 years and over 37 Fulbright Scholars in the past 30 years.[28]

It also has an online learning campus that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs of study that can be completed fully online.[29] The university’s online program ranked 13th in the United States among online university programs on Guide to Online Schools’ 2013 Online College Rankings.[30]

Each year over 3,000 students graduate from the university. On average over 3,000 bachelors, 600 masters, 50 specialist and 10 doctorate degrees are awarded yearly during commencements that occur in Spring and Fall.[31] The campus Career Development Center reports that 85% of graduates find employment in an area related to their field, and 90% of graduates were employed or continuing their education within 12 months of graduation.[32][33]


The university is accredited by 25 national accrediting agencies. A shortlist of these include accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, American Association of University Women, American Board of Engineering and Technology, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.[34]

The Ostrander-Student Memorial Bell Tower stands in the campus arboretum. It was constructed through donations from Lloyd B. Ostrander, a 1927 MSU graduate, his wife, Mildred, and from the Student Association. The Bell Tower was completed in 1989.

Notable programs[edit]

Minnesota State University has a history of creating new programs to meet the demand of new and developing fields. It has the only accredited bachelor's degree program in Aviation and supplies pilots to the entire region. It was the first institution in the United States to offer a Master of Fine Arts degree in Forensics.[35] It has one of the first and oldest continuing program in Experiential Education.[36] It also offered one of the first interdisciplinary programs in Urban Studies and Local Government Management.[37]

Some of the notable programs include:

  • Aviation and Airport Management program is the only nationally accredited aviation program in the State of Minnesota.[38] Enrollment has grown over 60% over the last several years. Minnesota State has a strategic role in providing the training for all of the professional pilots trainees in the State of Minnesota. Graduates are often hired to work in nearby states as the program also serves the needs of the region.[39][40]
  • Master of Arts Program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology - In the Society for Industrial and Organization Psychology last rankings of graduate programs, the program ranked first in students' ratings, fifth in program resources, and 7th in program culture.[41] The I/O Department also runs their own consulting company entitled The Organizational Effectiveness Research Group.
  • Master's degree in Experiential Education - The master's degree in Experiential Education is the oldest graduate degree program in experiential education in the United States.[42] This program was originally started in 1971, as a joint venture between the University and Minnesota Outward Bound School.[36]
  • Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology - The Psy.D. Program is NCATE accredited, and, trains students to attain certification to practice as school psychologists or pursue other doctoral level employment such as university teaching. The program operates a clinic on campus, and has a history of providing school psychology services to primary and secondary school students in Belize.


Minnesota State University commonly has a student profile that consists of a cross section of society. It includes a large percentage of residential full-time students. It currently attracts the second largest number of incoming Minnesota freshman each year.[43] For the past several years (2013-2015), the institution has rolling admissions with an acceptance rate of 65.5%, and the average accepted student ACT score ranges from 20-25.[44][45]

After Fall 2012 the university has become the largest university in the MNSCU system according to the total number of full-year equivalent students (14,443), as Saint Cloud State (13,938) has a significantly larger percentage of PSEO and part-time students that causes a headcount to be higher.[46]

Satellite campuses[edit]

Edina Campus[edit]

This campus is located at 7700 France Ave. S. in Edina, Minnesota and serves a diverse student body from the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.[47] Program offerings at this campus include 12 undergraduate programs including bachelor's degrees, bachelors completion programs, undergraduate minors and teaching licensure. The College of Graduate Studies offers 23 graduate programs including master's degrees in Accounting, Engineering, Education Leadership, Community Health, Human Services Planning and Administration, Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA, Nursing, School Health Education and Special Education. Doctoral studies are available at this location for the Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Doctorate in Nursing Practice programs. Additionally, the Edina Campus also provides continuing education and outreach for areas in engineering, nursing, teaching and urban studies.

Owatonna Campus[edit]

Located on the southwest side of Owatonna, Minnesota, the Owatonna College and University Center was established on 27 acres by the state to meet the needs of college graduates in the Owatonna area. This site is a collaboration of Minnesota State University, Mankato, South Central College, and Riverland Community College to provide lower division liberal arts, career and technical education, and upper division and graduate-level studies in one location. On average 4,000 students attend this location for-credit coursework.[48]

Normandale Partnership Center[edit]

A partnership center was established in 2012 to offer several targeted bachelor's degree in the southwest Twin Cities area at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota. This partnership was an extension of the existing demand in the area that expertise from Minnesota State could offer through flexible technology, online learning and offering staff at Normandale Community College. Currently bachelor's degrees are offered in Communication Studies, Elementary Education, Integrated Engineering, Special Education and Applied Organizational Studies. Plans to offer additional coursework is in place for the future at both the Partnership Center with Metropolitan State University, and in collaboration with the Edina and Mankato Campuses.

Student life[edit]

There are more than 200 academic student groups, intramural sports, leadership and religious organizations, honorary and professional fraternities and sororities, and special interest groups that students can join. There is also an active Panhellenic Council and Intrafraternity Council. Several active fraternities are located nearby campus including Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Nu, Lambda Chi Alpha, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Theta, Delta Sigma Pi and Delta Chi. Active sororities include - Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Sigma Alpha and Sigma Sigma Sigma.[49]

Student government[edit]

The Student Senate provides leadership and policy action as an advisory council to the student body. It oversees student activity fees allocations, hires a student legal aid, communicates with the university faculty and leadership, provides grade appeals, awards a yearly scholarship and operates a textbook rental/reserve program for commonly requested books.

The Minnesota State Student Association represents Minnesota State University, Mankato students at the Institutional, Local, State and Federal governing levels through listening to and voicing the thoughts, ideas, and concerns of all students. It advocates on behalf of university students along with the Minnesota State University Student Association.

Student housing[edit]

Freshman and sophomore students are encouraged to stay in the on-campus student housing. Students may optionally choose to participate in the Learning Community Program.[50] This program provides a structured environment for incoming first-year students to join a residence hall that supports their academic success by placing them with students from the same major, provides major specific study sessions led by senior students and provides direct connections with faculty and staff.

There are five student housing complexes on or near campus that serve approximately 3,000 students. The five student complexes are:

  • McElroy Residence Community (800 residents) - Consists of four four-story halls. All the halls are connected to each other through a central hallway and to Crawford, Preska and Carkoski Commons Dining Hall. As part of an ongoing campus renewal of the north part of campus there are renovations occurring to the Dining and Health Services. Renovations have been completed in 2012-2013 for the McElroy complexes. Additions included air conditioning.
  • Crawford Residence Community (800 residents) - Consists of four four-story halls. The Crawford Halls are planned for renovations in the near future.
  • Margaret R. Preska Residence Community (500 residents) - Consists of a single large four-story hall that was recently constructed, and opened in 2012, to replace the demolished Gage Towers at the south-side of campus.
  • Julia A. Sears Residence Community (600 residents) - Consists of four four-story halls. All the halls are connected to each other through a central hallway.
  • Stadium Heights Residence Community (300 residents) - Are 84 apartment style units adjacent to campus. These were previously a private apartment complex that are leased in starting 2013 to the university to meet the need for expanded student housing.
  • Gage Towers - Demolished (600 residents) - Were two large residential towers that were completed in 1965 that were imploded in 2013 using explosives to demolish the aging structures.[51][52]


The athletic teams are known as the Minnesota State Mavericks with school colors of purple and gold. More than 500 students participate each year in athletics each year for the University. It offers teams in men's and women's hockey and basketball, football, baseball, golf, women's swimming, track, cross country, women's tennis, wrestling, soccer, golf, volleyball, and softball. The men's and women's ice hockey teams both compete in the NCAA Division I Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), along with four other Minnesota-based college teams. Other university athletic teams began competing in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference of NCAA Division II in 2008-09 following the disbandment of the North Central Conference.

Minnesota State athletics teams have placed favorably in national competitions in NCAA Division II Athletics in several sports including hockey, football, baseball, women's basketball, men's basketball, men's track & field, wrestling, women's soccer and softball. Since 1993 the Mavericks have captured the most individual national championships out of all sixteen colleges and universities in the Northern Sun Conference.[53] The 2015 Season marked the 14th straight year that the Mavericks have finished in the top 25 in the country in the national standings and seventh time Minnesota State has posted a top-five placing for the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup.[54][55] It has also won the NSIC US Bank All-Sports Award 4 times and placed 2nd 2 times during the last six-year period of the 2008-2015 competition seasons.[56][57]

Minnesota State University has been the location of the summer training camp for the Minnesota Vikings National Football League team for 50 years. Each year over 60,000 fans travel to Blakeslee Stadium on the Minnesota State University campus athletics grounds to watch team practice, fireworks, signing events, fan meet and greet and other events.[58]

Facility renovations and upgrades[edit]

The Taylor Center opened in the Fall of 2000

The Taylor Center opened in the Fall of 2000, and was made possible by the donations of alumnus Glen Taylor. The 4,800-seat facility houses Maverick basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams. The MSU Admissions office is also located here and the 5,000 square-foot Hall of Champions showcases the University's proud history. In addition to MSU athletic events and other sporting activities, Taylor Center also hosts MSU commencement ceremonies, major concerts and lectures.

Expanded Outdoor Athletic Facilities were constructed in the very southern portion of the campus including over 20 acres of new baseball fields, a soccer field, a jogging track, a trail, and experimental wind power facilities were completed in 2008.

In Popular Fiction[edit]

A fictitious Minnesota State University was the main setting for the popular Coach (TV series). However, the show was filmed and portrayed by University of Iowa and other colleges. At the time the television show was filmed the institution was still under the previous name, Mankato State University.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]