Remembering Margaret Preska

Reflections on Dr. Preska

Margaret R. Preska was a remarkable woman. Few of us remember how extraordinary it was to have a female university president in the 1970s. I came to Mankato State University in 1985 and had a chance to meet with her as part of my job interview (along with another remarkable woman, Dean Emeritus Jane F. Earley). I was sold. She was the epitome of graciousness. And I loved the fact that when she entered a room, you knew she was the smartest person in there­—and there were a lot of smart people in those rooms! She had a remarkable memory. Once she met you, she knew your name (and your whole family’s) and treated you as a whole person, not just a job filler. And, of course, President Preska was a great supporter of the arts. After she retired, we were so proud to establish a scholarship in her name (along with that of her beloved husband, Dan), which is still awarded to this very day. We will miss her wisdom, her intellect, her grace. We will fondly remember her, forever.

Paul J Hustoles, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance 1985-2020

Dr Preska had the uncanny ability to immediately commit people’s faces and names into her long term memory. Whether the passage of time between interactions was days, weeks, months or even many years, the next time you met with her, Dr Preska would shake your hand, warmly and genuinely greet you by name and ask about your spouse or child or significant other picking right up where you had left off at your last interaction. I always envied that talent to remember all those faces and the important facets of their lives.

Rick Straka
VP for Finance and Administration

I was fortunate to work my first few years under Dr. Preska’s leadership. I was always amazed at her personal connection to faculty and her memory of their work. Even two decades later, she asked a timely question about my research even though we hadn’t talked in years. Something that few people remember about Dr. Preska is that she started the campus efforts to accommodate students with disabilities long before ADA requirements came along. She will be missed.

Gregg Marg
President, MSU Mankato Faculty Association

Message to campus from President Inch

Maverick family:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of former University president, Dr. Margaret Preska, early this morning.

Dr. Preska served as president from 1979 to 1992. She had a profound impact on the university and helped set it on the path to become the flagship institution it is today. She was a student-focused leader, a champion of learning and a true Maverick to the end. Margaret remained active in the University community long after her retirement and was often present at campus events. Our newest residence hall was named in her honor in 2012.

We send our sincerest condolences to Dr. Preska’s family. She is survived by her three children, Robert, William and Ellen. Robert and Ellen both earned degrees from Minnesota State Mankato, and Ellen served as the Foundation Board President from 2015 – 2017. Her husband, Dan Preska, passed away in 2017.

An on-campus memorial service will be planned for early summer 2022. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Preska Scholar Program Endowment through the Minnesota State Mankato Foundation.

You can read more about Dr. Preska’s impact on Minnesota State Mankato on the special “In Memorium” webpage.



Edward S. Inch, Ph.D.