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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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New Hall a Testament to Modern Living

Former president honored by new building.

Robb Murray, Mankato Free Press, Aug. 11, 2012

To say Margaret Preska is honored to have a new Minnesota State University, Mankato residence hall named after her is an understatement.

“Usually you’re quite dead when this kind of thing happens,” the for­mer Minnesota State Mankato president said, “if at all.” Preska and hundreds of others were on hand Friday for the open house of the new resi­dence hall that bears her name. The new hall, officially known as the Margaret Preska Residence Community, will welcome students this fall.

It is the next step in the evolution of Minnesota State Mankato’s on- campus housing. This fall will be the first in which no students will be living in the twin towers of the Gage Residence Hall complex.

That complex has been decommissioned and will be torn down after hazardous material abatement sometime this academic year.

To make up for the more than 1,100 beds Gage used to hold, new residence halls have been added. The 608-bed Julia A. Sears Hall was added four years ago. The Preska building adds 300 more. To accommodate the balance, the university is leasing 250 units in an apartment complex called Stadium Heights.

Finally getting out of Gage, though — with its ancient construction, tiny rooms and few amenities — is a key milestone for the residential life community and its plans to improve the residential experience for the students who live there.

“ This is a pivot point year for us,” said Cynthia Janney, Minnesota State Mankato’s director of residential life.

Like the Sears building, the Preska building features suite-style rooms with tall ceilings to accommodate lofted beds. It has many features built in to enhance efficiency, such as double-flush toilets (push the handle up for liquids, down for solids) to save water.

Air temperature can be adjusted room by room. It has tiled floor and soundresistant walls. Beds are loftable, dressers and desks are lockable. Outlets for electricity and cable are plentiful, wireless Internet is everywhere.

Total cost: $23.3 million.

It’s all very much the modern age of on- campus living.

And Margaret Preska saw it coming long ago.

“We talked about this 20 years ago,” she said.

She said that, in the 1980s and early 1990s, when she was president, she voiced her vision for residence halls where students lived comfortably, had access to common areas and were inspired by their surroundings.

The Margaret Preska Residence Community, she said, is just that.

But back in the day, there was a lot standing in the way of progressive on- campus housing. Mostly, she said, it was money. The country was just coming out of tough times and the farm crisis was still vivid in everyone’s mind. Shiny new buildings for students was a tough sell, she said.

Now, though, she said she’s just grateful her legacy at MSU was strong enough that it warranted a call from MSU President Richard Davenport, asking if she’d mind her name going on the side of the building.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories on-line at

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