GRAUC Supports Growth

Since its beginning in 1987, the volunteer GRAUC Board members, along with GRAUC staff, have worked tirelessly through advocacy and lobbying efforts to advance higher education opportunities and growth in the Rochester community.

Partnership Council Application

2019 Workforce Innovator Grant Application

Our Mission

GRAUC will meet the workforce needs of our region as it relates to higher education.

To achieve this GRAUC:

  • Advocates for quality higher educational programs and outcomes
  • Promotes higher educational opportunities to best serve business, education, students and the community
  • Connects higher education with business and industry

Our Vision

Rochester's higher education institutions are distinctive campuses with premier programs, facilities, and faculty for learners that contribute to the economic vitality of the region.

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As a result of these efforts, the GRAUC Board has been recognized for its ongoing contributions to the growth, advancement, health, and vitality of the Rochester community.

GRAUC is considered to be the leading advocate for advancing innovation, growth and excellence of higher education to serve the greater Rochester area community, students and employers.

GRAUC is recognized by MinnState, the University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Legislature as a powerful voice for higher education.

GRAUC has successfully advocated for over $130 million in Rochester higher education infrastructure investment. 

View GRAUC Timeline

2018-19 Focus Areas


  • Advocate for increased funding for the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota Systems, as well as enhanced funding for infrastructure repair and replacement of higher education facilities
  • Support Rochester post-education providers’ visions and strategies
  • Assist in identifying program voids and opportunities
  • Encourage increased collaboration between higher education, K-12 education and business and industry
  • Collaborate with Destination Medical Center, Journey to Growth, Southeast Minnesota Together and Cradle to Career to meet the workforce needs of our region


  • Track the success of CTECH, provide input on secondary career and technical program offerings and student work experience opportunities
  • Begin long-range planning to identify future higher education capital bonding needs, sales tax supported projects and budget requests
  • Participate, when invited, in the strategic planning activities of Rochester post-secondary education providers
  • Assist UMR and WSU-R as they build out their downtown campus facilities
  • Expand the regional focus of the GRAUC Board
  • Seek alternative funding sources
  • Assess the effectiveness and efficiency of GRAUC’s reorganization and creation of the Partnership Council

Board Members

The GRAUC Board is made up of a diverse group of volunteers who are community leaders, elected officials, academic institutional leaders, and students who all recognize the important need for advocacy in advancing public higher education in the greater Rochester community.

Besides serving on the GRAUC Board of Directors, Board members will also serve on a GRAUC sub-committee, in order to better serve our community’s evolving educational and workplace needs.



Guy Finne, Chair, Mayo Clinic
Gail Dennison, Vice-Chair, The Hormel Institute
Mark Matuska, Secretary-Treasurer, Kasson Mantorville Schools
John Wade, Past Chair, Clements Chevrolet


Julie Nigon, GRAUC Executive Director
Mona Permann, GRAUC Executive Assistant      


Aaron Benike, Benike Construction

Adenuga Atewologun, Riverland Community College

Alison Prodzinski, Augsburg University

Amber Iseminger, Merchants Bank

Amy Grover, Southeast Service Cooperative

Charleen Huber, IBM

Dan Christianson, F&M Community Bank of Preston

Dan Nistler, Merchants Bank

Don Supalla, Individual Member

Hal Henderson, HGA Architects

Heather Holmes, RAEDI

Jay Hesley, University of Minnesota Rochester

Jeanine Gangeness, Winona State University

Jeffery Boyd, Rochester Community and Technical College

Jennie Lemire, IBM

Jeremy Updike, Augsburg University

Jim Clausen, IBM Retired

Jim Kelly, Construction Partnership, Inc.

Jim Oeltjenbruns, F&M Community Bank of Preston

John Eischen, Rochester Area Builders

Kathy Meyerle, Individual Member

Katie Schmitt, Southeast Service Cooperative

Kaycee Rogers, Augsburg University

Kent Harfmann, Kasson Mantorville Schools

Kim Jensen, HGA Architects

Kristine Schatz, Merchants Bank

Linda King, Winona State University

Mark Utz, Wendland Utz Law Office

Matt Bissonette, Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce

Michael Muñoz, Rochester Public Schools

Michelle Pyfferoen, Rochester Community and Technical College

Molly Bigelow, Saint Marys University Rochester

Nancy Peterson, Individual Member

Nate Nordstrom, Individual Member

Patricia Rogers, Winona State University

Randy Johnson, Workforce Development, Inc. 

Rob Cunningham, Olmsted Medical Center

Roger Nelson, HGA Architects

Ruth Bello, Mayo Clinic

Ryan Nolander, RAEDI

 Scott Walker, Saint Marys University Rochester

 Sharon Schneller, Olmsted Medical Center

Steve Sallee, Southeast Service Cooperative

 Steve Schmall, Rochester Community and Technical College        

Tamsen Leimer, F&M Community Bank of Preston

Therese White, Think Bank

Tim Weir, Olmsted Medical Center


TBD                                 Finance/Fund Development

        Committee Chair


TBD                                 Programs Committee Chair


TBD                                 Marketing Committee Chair


Jennie Lemire                Annual Celebration & Annual

       Report Committee Chair


TBD                                 Board & Partnership Council

        Development Chair


Matt Bissonette         Partnership Council Director at Large



Randy Johnson          Partnership Council Director at Large


Aaron Benike            Partnership Council Director at Large


Our Partners

Businesses, organizations, and individuals are pleased to advocate, promote, and connect to help carry out GRAUC’s mission.  Recent partners include:

Rochester Community and Technical College
Winona State University
University of Minnesota Rochester
Olmsted Medical Center
Mayo Clinic
Clements Chevrolet Cadillac Subaru
Wendland Utz Law Office
Canadian Honker
Leigh & Judy Johnson
Jim Clausen
Jess Anderson
Guy Finne
Mark Utz
Jennie Lemire
Tim Weir
Dan Christianson
Kathy Meyerle
Pat Rogers
Hal Henderson
Brad Jones
Jeanine Gangeness
Don Supalla

Community Partners

Many individuals associated with our philanthropic partners also generously give of their time, skills, and talents through community service on the GRAUC Board. GRAUC is also appreciative of the philanthropic gifts given to GRAUC by our community partners:

City of Rochester
Olmsted County
Mayo Clinic
Olmsted Medical Center
Think Bank

Partner with Us

There are a variety of ways in which to become involved as an educational advocate, such as contacting your elected government representatives about the importance of supporting higher education in our community and advocating for specific educational initiatives and needs.