SMSU offers a lot to the community

To the editor:

It was wonderful to read such great news about Southwest Minnesota State University’s financial contribution to the community. As your article from Nov. 15 noted, the university brings in over $173 million and contributes to 1,421 jobs in the community.

I think it also important to note the intangibles that having a thriving university in our community brings.

In the arts, the university helps sponsor the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra, top-quality theater and other musical programs, visiting writers and scholars presenting on a wide range of timely and historical topics.

The GOLD College program at SMSU offers enrichment classes to the community at a reasonable price at a convenient time.

Along with the Marshall-Lyon County Library, SMSU offers ongoing lectures and presentations on such topics as World War I and 1968.

The Environmental Science Program coordinates Redwood River water quality monitoring which allows campus students to mentor local high school students to experience science first-hand. Their findings benefit the entire community.

Under the sponsorship of the SW/WC Cooperative, the campus is home to such enrichment programs as the Young Writers’ Day, the Young Artists’ Day, and a Science and Nature Day. And with the collaboration of the SMSU Creative Writing program, the SW/WC provides a writing contest for students 3rd grade through high school to showcase their poetry, fiction, and essay skills. The winning students attend an award ceremony, and their work is printed in a yearly anthology.

Although it is important to calculate in dollars the impact SMSU has on the Marshall area, the boost to the quality of life is not easy to tally and quantify. This partial list gives just a notion of what higher education brings to all citizens in our community and region.

James A. Zarzana


James A. Zarzana is an English professor emeritus at Southwest Minnesota State University.