Cotter Schools and Winona State University have announced an agreement for the sale of the university's West Campus properties - Tau Center and Maria Hall.
The university has hosted a residential learning environment on the West Campus since the 1990s. However, the university's Comprehensive Campus Master planning process has reflected a shift in direction, with a preference for developing one central Main Campus living community.
In July 2021, WSU President Scott R. Olson announced the university would be acting on its long-term plan to create a cohesive residence life community, and all on-campus students would reside on the Main Campus starting fall semester 2021. In October 2021, the West Campus properties were offered for sale through the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities surplus property process.
"Winona State is the highest-ranked public university in Minnesota according to the U.S. News Best Colleges list of the best regional universities, and that’s because we are laser-focused on our students' success - whether that be in the classroom or in their living environment," said Olson. "The West Campus has been a great addition to WSU for close to 30 years, but today’s students are telling us they want a different style of living and learning environments, such as the ability to walk to classes, the library, concerts, competitions, and events.”
Cotter Schools has been vocal about its own plan to create one campus for all Cotter students. "The purchase of these buildings will allow us to move closer to our overall goal of having one campus for all Cotter students," said Mary Eileen Fitch, President of Cotter Schools. "We continue to strive for academic excellence, and to fulfill our mission of challenging students to achieve their full potential and use their lives in service of others. We are fortunate to be able to provide quality, faith-filled educational experiences to interested students at an affordable price. We are grateful that our students can learn, serve, and grow in quality learning spaces, and we recognize these opportunities are only possible due to the generosity of others.”
In December 2021, Cotter announced plans for a new kindergarten through grade six elementary school on the current site of Loretto Hall, Cotter’s former residential center.
Definitive future use of the Maria Hall and Tau Center have yet to be determined. The Cotter Schools Board of Directors is enthusiastic about the acquisition of these properties as they relate to strategic planning initiatives and the desire for all students to be on one campus.
"As we look to the future of Winona State, we’re excited about the opportunity to invest strategically in our campus and to provide the kind of living spaces students want," said Olson. "This is all about prioritizing environments that will contribute to student success and allow us to continue serving the needs of our students for generations to come."
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