President Connie Gores reflects during SMSU’s anniversary


Southwest Minnesota State University recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. SMSU has come a long way since its founding in 1967. Current SMSU President Connie J. Gores works to preserve SMSU’s heritage while also looking forward to the school’s future.

Gores was born and raised in North Dakota. Gores has lived in every time zone in the continental US, but considers the Midwest to be her home. She loves the people and the community of Minnesota. Gores has lived in Minnesota for 10 years and has been president of SMSU for four years. “The Prairie, the People, the Possibilities” was the theme of Gores’ inauguration and is the theme of her presidency still. Gores understands the importance of people and works to partner with the community.

“We have a responsibility to meet the needs of our region,” Gores said.

This year’s Homecoming was of great importance due to it being the 50th anniversary of SMSU. Homecoming Week started on Monday with Founder’s Day and the third charter signing. Some signers of the original charter from 1967 were able to attend Homecoming Week, and the charter class and all the alumni that made it for the homecoming week were impressed with the improvements SMSU has undergone. The dining hall and athletic grounds have seen massive improvements over the years. The returning alumni were well-please with the grounds and the renovations.

Despite Marshall High’s homecoming game and the women’s volleyball game to compete with, the University Gala was an astounding success. The gala saw a record number of attendance and donations. The gala saw over 350 attendants and raised over $800,000. The rest of Homecoming Week saw similar success.

Gores considers the success of Homecoming Week to be a testament of how resilient SMSU is. The values and focus of SMSU have endured. SMSU continues to focus on its holistic approach to education and its meaningful engagement with people. Throughout its 50 years, SMSU alumni have been successful in their career and academic goals, with 93% of SMSU graduates work in their field of study. SMSU has the largest dual enrollment in the state of Minnesota. The campus also has a diverse population of students and focuses on being a supportive community for all students.

The rest of the year will focus on remembering and commemorating SMSU’s history. Gores is also focusing on increasing attendance and promoting SMSU. To describe SMSU in one word Connie Gores would use “transformational”.  She encourages everyone to talk about and share their Mustang experience.