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.

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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

2017 Focus Areas

  • Advocate for increased repair and replacement funding for the Minnesota State and University of Minnesota Systems, as well as funding for the Plaza/Memorial capital bonding project on the RCTC campus
  • Support Rochester higher education providers visions and strategies
  • Assist in identifying program voids and opportunities
  • Connect public and private higher education providers to regional workforce skill gap needs through active involvement in Destination Medical Center, Journey to Growth and Southeast Minnesota Together
  • Collaborate with the Cradle to Career initiative
  • Encourage increased collaboration between higher education, K-12 education and business/industry


  • Assist UMR and WSU-R as they build out their downtown campus facilities
  • Track the success of CTECH, support the infrastructure needs of area higher education providers and begin long-range planning to identify future capital bonding needs, sales tax supported projects and budget requests
  • Provide orientation for the new UMR interim Chancellor, new RCTC President, as well as other new senior administrators at public and private higher education institutions
  • Participate in the RCTC President and UMR Chancellor search processes
  • Expand the regional focus of the GRAUC Board
  • Seek alternative funding sources

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.



John Wade, Chair, Clements
Guy Finne, Vice-Chair, Mayo Clinic
Gail Dennison, Secretary-Treasurer, The Hormel Institute
Jess Anderson, Past Chair, Smart-HR

Ex-Officio Board Members

Rep. Tina Liebling, State Representative
Sen. Carla Nelson, State Senator
Rep. Nels Pierson, State Representative
Rep. Duane Quam, State Representative
Rep. Duane Sauke, State Representative
Sen. Dave Senjem, State Senator


Don Supalla, GRAUC Executive Director
Mona Permann, GRAUC Executive Assistant      

Board Members

Ruth Bello, Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
Aaron Benike, Alvin E. Benike, Inc.
Matt Bissonette, Rochester Chamber of Commerce
Ken Brown, Olmsted County Board
Dan Christianson, F&M Community Bank of Preston
Jim Clausen, Retired, IBM
Mary Davenport, RCTC
Jeanine Gangeness, Winona State University-Rochester
Hal Hendeson, HGA Architects
Jay Hesley, University of Minnesota Rochester
Randy Johnson, Workforce Development, Inc.
Brad Jones, Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau
Ken Kurth, Mayo Clinic - Development
Jennie Lemire, IBM - Rochester
Mark Matuska, Kasson Mantorville High School
Kathy Meyerle, Retired, Mayo Clinic
Michael Muñoz, Rochester Public Schools
Nate Nordstrom, BrandHoot Web Design
Patricia Rogers, Winona State University
Gary Smith, RAEDI
Mark Utz, Wendland Utz, Ltd
Tim Weir, Olmsted Medical Center

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.