MARSHALL - Her parents may not have been able to realize their academic dreams, but their children sure did. Southwest Minnesota State University President Dr. Connie J. Gores said her father was not able to continue his education as he wanted to because he had to work on the family farm, and Gores' mother did not graduate from high school because she had to run a household - "she boiled her first pot of potatoes at the age of 6," Gores said - but their six children all have degrees, with Gores holding a PhD.
Gores was the keynote speaker Wednesday afternoon for the kickoff to the fall session of Senior College. Senior College coordinator Lauren Beukelman, who recently took over the reins from Betty Roers, said more than 160 students have signed up with more to come. She announced the name change of Senior College to GOLD College, which stands for Growth, Opportunity, Learning and Development.
From a show of hands, Gores found out that a majority of the enrollees have been taking courses for more than 10 years.
"Obviously, many of you keep coming back because you get something from it," she said.
Gores said she wanted to know more about the lifelong learners who come to SMSU and said she has been reading and thinking about SMSU's history.
"We have a history of pathbreaking," she said. "We are resilient and have tenacity. We stick with it. We have a history of getting things done and working together. The region and city are hungry for partnerships."
SMSU has a history of "academic excellence and distinction," she said and doesn't toot its own horn enough in Gores' mind.
"We have a culinology department that has won national awards as well as forensic students who have won national awards," she said.
Gores asked "What are we known for? What do we want to be known for? Where are more possibilities for academic excellence?"
Gores said she wanted to emphasize the "southwest" in southwest Minnesota.
"The prairie stands for endless possibilities," she said. "We have the opportunity to live big and dream big. We are dreamers and we are doers. That combination is priceless."