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
Minnesota State University, Mankato seal.svg
MottoBig Ideas. Real-world Thinking.[1]
TypePublic[1] flagship university[2]
Established1868; 154 years ago (1868)[1]
Parent institution
Minnesota State system[1]
Endowment$54.1 million (2020)[3]
Budget$264 million (2019)[4]
PresidentEdward Inch
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
CampusMid-size city
303 acres (123 ha)
ColorsPurple and gold[7]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I - CCHA, WCHA
Minnesota State University, Mankato logo.svg

Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU or MNSU), also known as Minnesota State,[8][9][10] is a public university in Mankato, Minnesota. Established as the Second State Normal School in 1858,[11] it was designated in Mankato in 1866,[12][13] and officially opened 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 university in the state,[14][15] and has over 123,000 living alumni worldwide.[5] It is the most comprehensive of the seven state universities[16] and is referred to as the flagship of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.[2][17][18] It is an important part of the economy of Southern Minnesota and the state, as it adds more than $781 million to the economy of Minnesota annually.[19][20]

Minnesota State offers 130 undergraduate programs of study, 75 graduate programs and 4 doctoral programs. It hosts the only nationally, regionally, and state accredited aviation program in Minnesota.[21][22] Students are served by 750 full-time faculty members, creating a 21:1 student to faculty ratio.[5] 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 in Bloomington and programs online through an online campus.


Early years[edit]

The State Legislature recognized the need for an education center in southern Minnesota by 1858.[23] In 1860 the legislature chartered the development of state run normal schools to serve areas outside of Winona. The largest and fastest growing cities outside of Saint Paul, Saint Cloud and Mankato were selected for the sites dependent on local fundraising to establish the schools with seed money. Through the efforts of local attorney turned state legislator Daniel Buck, the newly formed City of Mankato donated $5,000 raised from the area community and sold $5,000 in bonds for the founding of the second state normal school, Mankato Normal School.[24] Chartered in state law in 1860, the first classes were held in 1868 with an enrollment of 27 students.[25]: 4  The institution's original mission was to train and educate teachers for rural schools throughout southern Minnesota. Early course work included sciences, mathematics, civil engineering, agriculture, western classics, and basic pedagogy. The cornerstone of the first Normal School-owned building was laid on June 22, 1869.[25]: 4  George M. Gage served as the first principal of Mankato Normal School from 1868-1872.[25]: 6 

During this early period, Mankato Normal School provided educational certificates that allowed for graduates to become school teachers and a majority of the students were women.[26] 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. In 1873, Sears was demoted by the State Normal Board to assistant principal and was replaced as principal by Rev. David C. John.[25]: 8  Sears' salary as assistant principal was reduced from $1,500 to $1,200 and resulted in a letter to Gage that it was doubtful that she would see him again in Minnesota.[25]: 8 [27] In response, the position as assistant principal was offered to Cornelius Hyde.[25]: 8  Both Sears and Hyde arrived for work on September 1, 1873.[27]

After it was determined that Hyde would receive the position, 41 students refused to attend classes and 32 were expelled for failing to return after 3 days.[27] 60 residents signed a petition requesting that Hyde return to his position as instructor and that Sears would be reinstated as assistant principal.[25]: 8 [27] This became known as the "Sears Rebellion",[27] which lasted until Sears left the school for a professorship at Peabody Normal School. These events would later come to be remembered as a new residence hall was dedicated in honor of Sears in 2008 and a commission on the status of women was founded to support the advancement of women's education at the institution in the 1990s.

State Teachers College[edit]

By 1921, the school had grown significantly to the point that it began to offer four-year bachelor's degrees. As a result, it was renamed the Mankato State Teachers College. The original Old Main building was destroyed in a fire in 1922 and a new building was completed on April 4, 1924.[25]: 21, 26  Enrollment then dipped during World War II and the college refocused its extension programs on providing education to members of the Works Progress Administration and Naval Corps.[26]

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 Valley Campus. It was located geographically down the hill in lower Mankato. The size and footprint of the Valley Campus could not sustain the space needed to handle the growing student body. The Mankato Teachers College received 12 former Army barracks as a short-term solution.[25]: 40  By the late 1950s work began on constructing an entirely new, modern campus atop the river valley bluff. This became the Highland Campus.[26] A new experimental school called the Wilson School was built on the Highland Campus to research and apply new teaching methods for students in grades K-12. The intent of this school was to provide student teachers the opportunity to learn and experiment with new methods in a university environment.[28]

Transition to comprehensive university[edit]

By 1957, the mission of the institution had broadened to comprehensive four-year college education, the state legislature changed the name of the college to Mankato State College. The following years saw additional enrollment growth. By the 1960s the institution had grown so fast and so large that there was a bill created in the State Legislature to designate it the University of Southern Minnesota by state Senator Val Imm and later an amendment to the bill by state Representative Mike McGuire would have renamed it Minnesota State University.[29] These were proposed long before the popular television show Coach aired.[30] It was proposed to be a second and independent state university equal in stature to the University of Minnesota at a time when there was only one research institution.[31] There was significant opposition from the University of Minnesota and from Governor Karl Rolvaag at the time.

In 1975, the college successfully made the case to transition to comprehensive status and was renamed to Mankato State University. This change reflected a further 40% growth in the student body to 12,000 students by 1972.[24] 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. While the transition to "state university" was being considered, administration also explored the prospect of combining the "Valley Campus" buildings with the "Highland Campus" on recommendation of a consultant hired by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.[25]: 60  Despite some faculty opposition to the merger, Mankato State University received permission to consolidate in May 1977 and completed the consolidation under President Margaret Preska on May 5, 1980.[25]: 60  The Valley Campus was eventually sold to a private developer and the Highland Campus grew in size.[26]

Change to Minnesota State University[edit]

Minnesota State University entrance sign. Built in 2008, the sign is carved out of 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 a mandate from 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.[32] This name change was also intended to broaden recognition of the university in the Midwest region.[33] Dr. Richard Rush, then the president of the university, had famously stated about the name change that "Our goal is to make this University the other great public university in Minnesota."[34] This marked a significant change in direction in the history of the institution, one that would later be realized as it fought for the authorization of being able to award doctoral degrees. It was during this time that the institution began to refer to itself as Minnesota State.

In 2007, in another major milestone, the university was authorized to begin offering applied doctoral degrees.[35]


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[36]

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 2002–21
Dr. Edward Inch 2021- present

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

  • College of Allied Health and Nursing[37]
  • College of Arts and Humanities[38]
  • College of Business[39]
  • College of Education[40]
  • College of Science, Engineering and Technology[41]
  • College of Social and Behavioral Sciences[42]
  • College of Graduate Studies and Research[43]
  • College of Extended Learning[44]

In addition to the academic units, there are several other research centers and state created units:[45]

  • The Glen Taylor Nursing Institute
  • The Center on Aging
  • The Minnesota Center for Transportation Research and Implementation
  • The Center for Excellence in Scholarship and Research
  • The Minnesota Center for Modeling and Simulation
  • The Kessel Institute for Peace and Change
  • The Minnesota State Engineering Center of 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


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[46]111
Master's university
Washington Monthly[47]399

Minnesota State Mankato currently offers 130 undergraduate programs of study, 13 preprofessional programs, and 75 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.[5] 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.[49] It has produced eight student awards in the past ten years[when?] and over 37 Fulbright Scholars in the past 30 years.[50]

It also has an online learning campus that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs of study that can be completed fully online.[51]

Each year over 3,000 students graduate from the university. On average over 3,000 bachelor's, 600 master's, 50 specialist and 10 doctorate degrees are awarded yearly during commencements that occur in the spring and fall.[52] 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.[53][54]


The university is accredited by 26 national and regional accrediting agencies. These include accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission,[55] 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.[56]

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 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.[57] It has one of the first and oldest continuing program in Experiential Education.[58] It also offered one of the first interdisciplinary programs in Urban Studies and Local Government Management.[59]

Some of the notable programs include:

  • The Aviation and Airport Management program is the only nationally accredited aviation program in the State of Minnesota.[60] Enrollment has grown over 60% over the last several years. Minnesota State has a strategic role in providing the training for a majority of the professional pilot 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.[61][62] The university has developed unique national partnerships with Delta Air Lines[63] and Sun Country Airlines that provide on the job training and direct hire before graduation programs for students in the aviation and airport management program.[64][65]
  • Master of Arts Program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology – In the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology's last rankings of graduate programs,[when?] the program ranked first in students' ratings, fifth in program resources, and 7th in program culture.[66] 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.[67] This program was originally started in 1971, as a joint venture between the University and Minnesota Outward Bound School.[58]
  • 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 commonly has a student profile that reflects 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 freshmen each year.[68] For 2013–2016, the institution had rolling admissions with an acceptance rate of 65.5%, and the average accepted student ACT score ranged from 20 to 25.[69][70]

Since the fall of 2012, the university has been the largest university in the Minnesota State system according to the total number of full-year equivalent students (14,443), as St. Cloud State (13,938) has a significantly larger percentage of PSEO and part-time students that causes a headcount to be higher.[71]


Preska Residence Hall and the newly built dining hall to the west
Julia Sears Residence Hall

The Minnesota State University campus currently contains 30 buildings spread over 303 acres.[5] The campus includes on-campus housing in the form of dorms for 3,000 residents, academic buildings, a main library, a music library, two astronomy observatories, experimental research stations for alternative and renewable energy, a recreation center, an athletics complex, a student center, an administration center and over 50 acres of athletics fields including the Blakeslee Stadium for football.[72] The Minnesota State Mavericks men's and women's hockey teams also use and have administrative space at the Verizon Center and the All Seasons Arena located off campus.

Satellite campuses[edit]

Edina Campus[edit]

This campus is located at 7700 France Ave. S. in Edina, and serves a diverse student body from the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.[73] Programs at this campus include 12 undergraduate programs including bachelor's degrees, bachelor's 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 and other specialty areas.

Owatonna Campus[edit]

Located on the southwest side of Owatonna, 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.[74]

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.[75] Several trial programs originally offered at the Normandale Center such as the Twin Cities Engineering program were expanded to other Minnesota State system community colleges in 2016.[76]

Student life[edit]

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[77] Total
White 72% 72
Foreign national 8% 8
Black 6% 6
Hispanic 5% 5
Other[a] 5% 5
Asian 4% 4
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 27% 27
Affluent[c] 73% 73

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, and Phi Delta Theta. Active sororities include – Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and Zeta Phi Beta.[78]

The previously active chapter Delta Chi was removed from campus in 2017 due to controversies surrounding non-registered parties and member recruitment issues.

Other chapters preciously chartered include Delta Delta Delta, Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Iota Phi Theta, and Kappa Alpha Psi.

Student government[edit]

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

The Student Government (formerly the Minnesota State Student Association[79]) 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 Students United.

LGBT center[edit]

Minnesota State University, Mankato has the second oldest LGBT resource center for students in the nation.[80] Originally named the "Alternative Lifestyles Office", the center was founded by Mankato alumnus James Chalgren in 1977. The center is located in the Centennial Student Union and is an independent office within the university's division of Student Affairs. Minnesota State was voted as one of the top 100 campuses in the nation for LGBT students according to The Advocate.[81]

Student housing[edit]

Freshman and sophomore students are encouraged to stay in the on-campus student housing. Students may choose to participate in the Learning Community Program.[82] 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.


Stomper the Maverick can be seen driving the crowd during school events.

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 NCAA Division I—the men in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and the women in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The men's team had competed in the WCHA through the 2020–21 season, but was one of the seven men's WCHA members that left after that season to reestablish the CCHA, leading to the WCHA disbanding its men's division. 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.

The school mascot is Stomper the Maverick, a caricature of a wild steer. He is known for helping to rally the fans and crowds at sporting events through various antics. He can be seen as part of giveaways and other competitions and is often playfully waving to children. Several events, locations and areas are named for Stomper.

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.[83] The 2015 season marked the 14th straight year that the Mavericks finished in the top 25 in the country in the national standings, and the seventh time Minnesota State had posted a top-five placing for the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup.[84][85] It has also won the NSIC US Bank All-Sports Award four times and placed second twice during the last six-year period of the 2008–2015 competition seasons.[86][87]

The Minnesota State fight song is "The Minnesota State Rouser," also known as the "Maverick Rouser."[88] It is played at all the athletics events as well as other events, along with the school song, "The Minnesota State Hymn". The Minnesota State University Marching Band is called the "Maverick Machine," and drives enthusiasm and school spirit at athletics events.

Minnesota State was the traditional location of the summer training camp for the Minnesota Vikings National Football League team for 52 years, from 1966 to 2017. Each year over 60,000 fans traveled to Blakeslee Stadium on the Minnesota State University campus athletics grounds to watch the team practice, fireworks, signing events, fan meet and greets, and other events.[89] In 2017, the Vikings ownership announced they would end the annual tradition, as they had built a new facility in Eagan, Minnesota, to be completed in 2018.[90] A single scholarship was named by the Vikings at the school after the end of the 2017 camp. Some critics decried that the Vikings team did not further assist the university after such a long relationship, either with repairs to the stadium or further commemoration of the long running tradition.[91][92]

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 history. In addition to MSU athletic events and other sporting activities, Taylor Center hosts MSU commencement ceremonies, major concerts and lectures.[93]

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, completed in 2008.

In popular fiction[edit]

A fictitious Minnesota State University was the main setting for the popular sitcom Coach, with its teams nicknamed the Screaming Eagles. However, the show was filmed at 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]


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


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  10. ^ "History of the NSIC". Northern Sun Intercollegiate League. July 13, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2016. Minnesota State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth left the league to join the North Central Conference but returned to the NSIC in 2008. University of Minnesota, Morris and Michigan Tech University were once part of the NSIC family as well.
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