WSU’s Grandparents University

WINONA, Minn. — College students are checking into their rooms at Winona State University. But these may not be the typical faces you’d expect to see on campus. Thirty-five pairs of grandparents and their grandchildren, between the ages of eight and 14, have enrolled at WSU’s first ever Grandparent University. Some of them coming from as far away as North Carolina.

“I’d like to learn about the campus,” said Vicki Hamilton, WSU Grandparent University participant. “This is where some of my grandchildren will be going, and I think it will be interesting to see.”

This two-day event involves many different experiences including a tour of the campus, information about the school’s academic programs, an opportunity to stay in a residents hall, and eat in the campus cafeteria.

“I kind of want to know what the food is like,” said Oliver Hamilton, WSU Grandparent University participant.

But, of course, the event also includes an opportunity to choose and attend one of five college classes taught by WSU faculty.

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“I signed up for Physics,” said Oliver. “So, when I read about it and my mom showed me it, it sounded fun.”

“One of the more popular ones is the physics class that is being offered where the instructors got all sorts of things that he has in mind about blowing up things and a bed of nails and looking at the concept of pressure from a physics stand point,” said Jim Reynolds, WSU’s Grandparents University organizer.

One of the organizers of the event who brought this idea to WSU says there is a lot to be learned both in the classroom and from each other.

“I’m a  great proponent for inter-generational learning, and I think we all learn better when we learn together and from one another,” said Ron Stevens, WSU Grandparents University organizer.

Which is one of the reasons why Grandparents University has been so successful in other parts of the country. Organizers at WSU hope the program is just as successful in Winona.

“We’re hoping that this idea will catch on,” said Reynolds, “that it’s a positive experience for them. That we’ll get good feedback. If it does, we’ll likely do this again and hopefully build on this experience each summer.”