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.

Our Mission

GRAUC will meet the workforce needs of our region

To achieve this GRAUC:

  • ADVOCATES for quality higher educational programs and outcomes.

  • PROMOTES higher educational opportunities for students to best serve business, education and the region

  • CONNECTS higher education with business and industry to further their mutual success.

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.



Gail Dennison, Chair, The Hormel Institute
Mark Matuska, Vice-Chair, Kasson Mantorville Schools
Ruth Bello, Secretary-Treasurer, Mayo Clinic
Guy Finne, Past Chair, Mayo Clinic


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


Atewologun, Adenuga                        Riverland Community College

Bello, Ruth                                           Mayo Clinic

Benike, Aaron                                      Benike Construction

Bigelow, Molly                                    Saint Marys University Rochester

Bissonette, Matt                                   Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce

Boyd, Jeffery                                        Rochester Community and Technical College

Brennan, Reilly Individual Member

Brockman, Brent Crenlo Cab Products, Inc.

Christianson, Dan                                F&M Community Bank of Preston

Clausen, Jim                                         IBM - Retired

Cunningham, Rob                               Olmsted Medical Center

Eischen, John                                       Rochester Area Builders

Gangeness, Jeanine                             Winona State University

Grover, Amy                                        Southeast Service Cooperative

Harfmann, Kent                                   Kasson Mantorville Schools

Henderson, Hal                                    HGA Architects

Hesley, Jay                                           University of MN Rochester

Holmer, Heather                                  RAEDI

Huber, Charleen                                  IBM

Iseminger, Amber                               Merchants Bank

Jensen, Kim                                          HGA Architects

Johnson, Randy                                   Workforce Development, Inc.         

Kelly, James                                         Construction Partnership, Inc.

King, Linda                                          Winona State University

Leimer, Tamsen                                   F&M Community Bank of Preston

Lemire, Jennie                                     IBM

Meyerle, Kathy                                    Individual Member

Muñoz, Michael                                   Rochester Public Schools

Nelson, Roger                                      HGA Architects

Ness, Sarah                                           Southeast Service Cooperative

Nistler, Dan                                          Merchants Bank

Nolander, Ryan                                    RAEDI

Nordstrom, Nate                                  Individual Member

Oeltjenbruns, Jim                                F&M Community Bank of Preston

Peterson, Nancy                                  Individual

Prodzinski, Alison                               Augsburg University

Pyfferoen, Michelle                             Rochester Community and Technical College

Rogers, Kaycee                                    Augsburg University

Rogers, Patricia                                   Winona State University

Sallee, Steve                                         Southeast Service Cooperative

Schatz, Kristine                                   Merchants Bank

Schmall, Steve                                     Rochester Community and Technical College

Schneller, Sharon                                Olmsted Medical Center

Supalla, Don                                         Individual

Thompson, Dan Mayo Clinic

Updike, Jeremy                                    Augsburg University

Utz. Mark                                              Wendland Utz

Walker, Scott                                       Saint Marys University Rochester

Weir, Tim                                             Olmsted Medical Center

White, Therese                                     Think Bank


TBD                                 Finance/Fund Development

        Committee Chair


TBD                                 Programs Committee Chair


TBD                                 Marketing Committee Chair


Jennie Lemire                Annual Celebration & Annual

       Report Committee Chair


Molly Bigelow             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.