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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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April 20: Distinguished Alumni Award Event

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Humanitarian Award, Harold J. Fitterer Service Award and Recent Alumni Award will be presented.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 4-6-2018

Mankato Free Press coverage

Mankato, Minn. – The 2018 Minnesota State University, Mankato distinguished alumni honorees include a graduate who retired as coordinator of the nursing program at the University of Minnesota Rochester, an entrepreneur who created and runs a property management business, a retired elementary school teacher and a marketing graduate who has helped develop the world’s smallest heart pacemaker.

The University’s Alumni Association will present its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Humanitarian Award, Harold J. Fitterer Service Award and Recent Alumni Award at 6 p.m. Friday, April 20 on campus in the Centennial Student Union’s Ostrander Auditorium. The event is open to the public. To register to attend the event, call 507-389-1515.

The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is presented to graduates who have achieved high rank or honor in their professions, had widespread effect on their communities and are recognized for their achievements over the course of their careers. This year’s recipient is Patrick Dean, Rochester, Minn.

Dean, a 1978 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, worked as a registered nurse after graduating and later earned a master’s degree in nursing from Winona State. He joined the University of Minnesota Rochester in 2006 as a clinical assistant professor. Dean earned a doctorate in educational leadership in 2011 from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis. He became coordinator of the University of Minnesota Rochester’s nursing program before retiring in May 2017. In May 2018, he will complete a two-year term as president of the International Association for Human Caring. Among his many honors, Dean was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II to the US Priory of St John at the rank of officer. He is now teaching reading core to elementary school students.

The Harold J. Fitterer Service Award is presented to graduates who have given distinguished service to Minnesota State Mankato through work preserving and promoting university programs. This year’s recipient is Rod Schmidt, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Schmidt, a 1973 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business, is an entrepreneur who owns Vintage Apartment Rentals in Sioux Falls, S.D. After graduating from the University, Schmidt started his career by working for Shell Oil and then Mobil Oil Company. After several promotions with Mobil Oil, he moved to New York City to work as a Mobil Oil manager. He left Mobil in 1986 and returned to the Midwest, buying and renovating several historic Sioux Falls, S.D., buildings into affordable-but-upscale apartments. Schmidt was recognized with Minnesota State Mankato’s Philanthropist of the Year Award in 2013.

The Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award recognizes graduates whose lives exemplify service to humankind, and who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to humanitarian causes. This year’s recipient is Doris Wigand, Le Sueur, Minn.

Wigand graduated from Minnesota State Mankato’s accelerated two-year teaching program in 1944. She then began a 31-year teaching career that led her to Adrian, Minn., Winnebago, Minn., and her hometown of Henderson, Minn. Wigand went back to school to earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1970 by taking night classes and summer school while continuing as a full-time teacher. After retiring in 1991, Wigand volunteered in numerous ways with a wide variety of church and community groups, including Friends of the Library, Church Women’s Guild, Red Cross Bloodmobile, Sibley County Food Shelf Board and many more. For her efforts, Wigand has received many volunteer awards, including the 2010 Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award for Sibley County.

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors graduates 35 years old or younger who reached personal or professional achievements early in their careers, positively impacted their communities, and show promise for continued success. This year’s recipient is Jon Whiting, St. Louis Park, Minn.

Whiting graduated from Minnesota State Mankato in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and began a career in medical device marketing. His most notable professional achievement has been his role in writing a business plan for the development and global launch of the world’s smallest heart pacemaker, the Micra™ Transcatheter Pacing System. Over the past six years, he has traveled in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East to meet with more than 2,000 healthcare professionals during the technology’s development. The device, 93 percent smaller than a traditional pacemaker, is now providing lifesaving therapy to well over 10,000 patients in approximately 40 countries worldwide.

More information on the awards is available at or by calling (507) 389-1515.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 14,712 students, is part of the Minnesota State system, which includes 30 colleges and seven universities.

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