Congratulations to Donna Wenkel: Academic Dean Who Has Been At The Mankato Campus Since the Start
Donna Wenkel, beloved Rasmussen College employee, recently celebrated her 35th anniversary at the Mankato campus. Her anniversary contends with that of the Mankato campus’ anniversary, as she started her tenure in 1984 and the campus was established in 1983.
Wenkel’s journey to Rasmussen College first began with her love for the Mankato community. Attending college for both her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and then her Master’s in Educational Leadership in Mankato, Donna found herself a home within the community.
“I love working in a community the size of Mankato. Because we do encounter our graduates,” Wenkel states. “It’s so fun to run in to our grads and find out what they’ve been doing and have those conversations.”
Wenkel was a teacher at Le Sueur High School prior to joining Rasmussen College. In 1983, Wenkel started at the College as a faculty member teaching typewriting and shorthand.
“Things have changed a lot. We were just starting our second year of the Mankato campus,” Wenkel states, reflecting on her first year as a faculty member for the College.
As she watched the evolution of her own teaching curriculum from typewriters to computers, she also watched the College itself expand. Her first time using the internet was on the Rasmussen College campus. The Dean at the time sat down some of the faculty to walk them through how to properly use the internet.
Wenkel explained how prior to the internet, research at the College relied on 3-by-5 card catalogs. Now, Wenkel states, “Rasmussen just has awesome databases.”
In 2003, Wenkel transitioned into her role as an Academic Dean of the campus. The Campus Director at the time approached Wenkel with the idea of transitioning from a faculty member to an Academic Dean. Wenkel didn’t necessarily see herself stepping into an administrative role when she entered the world of academia. However, since taking the role, Wenkel has been able to grow into it.
“I love working in an educational environment, whether that be a high school or a post-secondary. It’s just a very forward-looking, exciting place to be and you are helping people move forward in their lives and meet their goals. I love working in that environment,” Wenkel says.
Wenkel still leans into her passion of teaching. In her capacity as Academic Dean, she has the ability to coach faculty members and help them develop their skills as teachers. She truly enjoys this aspect of her role.
Shortly after Wenkel became Dean, the College went from being Rasmussen Business College to Rasmussen College, offering a wider range of programs and expanding into bachelor’s level degrees.
“It’s wonderful to see the expansion of our programming,” Wenkel states.
Through the years, Wenkel is proud that the College still kept its steadfast goal of providing career-focused education as an important part of its mission, while also emphasizing transferrable skills once the College gained its regional accreditation.
Wenkel states that, even after 35 years with Rasmussen College, “It’s fun coming to work every day.”