SMSU GOLD College kick-off Feb. 28

The spring kick-off for GOLD College will be from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Charter Hall 201 at Southwest Minnesota State University.

The kickoff event will allow attendees to hear directly from course professors, register for classes, and watch the Emmy-winning documentary film “Playing Haydn for the Angel of Death.” This project was led by Dr. Daniel Rieppel who worked with SMSU alumnus and opera singer, Ryan Hugh Ross, to pair the late Bill Holm’s poem of the same name to music composed by Martha Helen Schmidt.

Study groups are scheduled to run from March 18-April 25 with coursework delivered in-person, via Zoom, and a hybrid format that allows students to choose in-person or Zoom. Courses offered in Spring 2024 are listed below. Classes offered “in person only” are listed as such. Participants can choose up to four (4) different classes for the same price of $110 with the option to take additional classes for $10 each. Some courses will include nominal fees for supplies.

GOLD is an acronym for Growth, Opportunity, Learning, Development. GOLD College offers non-credit classes with a variety of topics: art, history, computers, current events, music, writing, health, physical well-being, and more. Each class is held one day per week for two hours. There are no tests or grades, and it is for students of any age who wish to continue learning.

Contact the GOLD College office for registration material and more information: GoldCollege@smsu.edu or call 507-537-6808. Parking permits are no longer needed when visiting SMSU.

The spring 2024 schedule includes:


Memoir Writing: This class is for anyone who wants to leave a legacy for his/her family. It is an opportunity to share through writing the time in which you lived, stories about family, and a view of yourself. You will be given ideas and writing prompts.

Instructor: Carol Purrington, Mondays, 9-11 a.m.

Adventures on the Prairie: Discovering the prairies of southwest Minnesota can be a fun, educational adventure! This six-week series explores different ways to safely engage with the outdoors, and learn about resources in our own backyards. Participants can expect fireside conversations, outdoor exploration, and hands-on education opportunities as we learn about the tall grass prairie ecosystem, migratory birds, fall/winter animal adaptations, and so much more.

Instructor: Katie Chapman ’08, Mondays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

The Pacific War: This class will focus on the war in the Pacific between the United States and Japan from 1941 to 1945. We’ll discuss important changes in Japan and the rest of the world in the period leading up to the war, the strengths and challenges faced by the combatants, the course of the war itself, and the war’s conclusion.

Instructor: Dr. Mike Hofstetter, Mondays, 2-4 p.m.


Showtime! Vintage Videos: This is the third offering of this class, with six new movies. The idea of this class is to show some documentaries on various topics in American History and discuss the films afterward. Many of these films are “vintage” and are not easily accessible. The six films are: “The Trail of Tears” (about Cherokee Removal); “Indians, Outlaws, and Angie Debo” (an American Experience from 1989), “Union Maids” (women in union organizing in the 1930s made in 1976), “A Family Gathering” (about a Japanese American family interned during World War II, 1989) “Super Chief” (the biography of Chief Justice Earl Warren 1989), “Frontline: Putin and the Presidents” (2023).

Instructor: Dr. Joan Gittens, Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

How Did They Do That? (Art History): Have you ever wondered how artists do what they do to make their artworks? Where do colors in paints come from? What was included in Renaissance frescoes to make them last hundreds of years? How are stone lithographs or bronze sculptures made? Join us to find out more about visual art processes, while viewing master artworks.

Instructor: Pat Hand ’77/’95, Tuesdays, 2-4 p.m.


The U.S. Constitution: This course will be a review of the influence of the Articles of Confederation on the development of the U.S. Constitution, the original articles, and amendments. This class will also include some interaction with SMSU students about current issues in the Justice System.

Instructor: Steve Fredrickson, Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m.

Tai Chi: Tai chi is a series of slow gentle movements and physical postures based on the Yang style. It addresses balance, muscle extension, muscle strength, and mental concentration. It is often referred to as moving meditation. Tai chi is usually practiced standing, but you may also benefit from modified movements seated in a chair. We will learn and practice the eight forms and learn about the history and aspects of the practice.

Instructor: Sue Morton, Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Crime and Me: This class will interact with the SMSU students who are learning how to gather information from eyewitnesses — GOLD College students will be shown mock crime scenes and then be interviewed by the students about what they saw. This class will also talk about how citizens and police can work to reduce crime and build trust with each other.

Instructor: BC Franson, Wednesdays 2-4 p.m.


Six Musical Compositions that Changed the World: Dr. Rieppel will be examining six pieces that had a lasting and/or immediate effect on the cultural life around their inception, as well as ways in which those compositions significantly changed the progression of history. Some of those works will include Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the St. Matthew Passion of Bach, the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky, Shostakovich’s “Leningrad” Symphony as well as others.

Instructor: Dr. Daniel Rieppel, Thursdays, 9:30-11 a.m. *Note later starting time.

Oh Yes, You Can Paint! This is a great class for you to try painting for the first time or continue on your artistic journey. All brushes, paint, and other equipment needed, except for the canvas, will be provided so you don’t need to invest in painting equipment right away. Canvases will be available to purchase at the opening kickoff and the first class. The returning participants are helpful, supportive, and creative. The group also likes to laugh! You will do some practice painting to get the feel of holding a brush, and complete one or more paintings. So, bring yourself, a canvas, and a desire to give painting a try.

Instructor: Dale Hiland, Thursdays, 9-11 a.m.

Unsung Heroes: Underappreciated People in American History: This class will present six different historical figures who made major contributions to history in a variety of ways but who are not familiar figures to most people in 2024. Topics will include:

• Rosa Bonheur, French artist

• James W. C. Pennington, a noted voice for black Americans

• Harriet Beecher Stowe, 19th-century writer

• Jan Karski, the World War II Polish Resistance fighter

• Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence

• Florence Kelley, reformer in the Progressive Era

Instructors: Pat Brace, Rick Herder, Ruthe Thompson, Tom Williford, Anthony Amato, and Joan Gittens, Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Drawing for Fun: Can’t draw a straight line? Forget perfection! Have fun! We will work on a variety of drawing techniques and subjects. You may surprise yourself at what you CAN draw!

Instructor: Pat Hand ’77/’95, Thursdays, 2-4 p.m.

Exploring Heroism Through Literature: Through literature, students will learn about ordinary people who made an extraordinary impact on the lives of others. At the center of the class will be the heartwarming story of friendship between 100-year-old Murray McBride and 10-year-old Jason Cashman as told in “The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride” written by Joe Siple. Students will need to have their own copy of this book. Interwoven throughout the course will be real-life accounts of heroes as shared by the instructor from The Lighthouse Effect compiled by Steve Pemberton. Participants will also reflect on their own personal heroes who have inspired them to appreciate more fully the richness of life.

Instructor: Janet Ellingworth, Thursdays, 2-4 p.m.

Contact the GOLD College office for registration material and more information: GoldCollege@smsu.edu or call 507-537-6808.


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