Winona State University receives largest gift in history

Local News

WINONA, Min. (WLAX/WEUX) – A university in Minnesota has received a generous financial donation and its source is one who meant it to be a sizable last wish. First News at Nine’s David LaClair has the story.

Maynard Weber was a big supporter of his Alma Mater, Winona State University.

Roger Boulay, Winona State University Arts Collection Coordinator said, “He was always a very generous, very talkative, fun-loving guy who had a lot of stories about baseball, about his father and painting.”

Known as “Mo”, Weber died in 2019 but, he had one more gift to give his beloved campus.

Scott Olson, Winona State University President said, “When Mo passed away in his estate he left a huge gift.”

A gift, worth 5 million dollars. It marks the largest monetary donation in the university’s history. That’s not all.

“He also gave us a gift of the fantastic art his father painted,” said Olson.

Weber’s generosity will go a long way, including the creation of a new state-of-the-art gallery space for art and design in Winona State’s Laird Norton Center.

Olson said, “This is a beautiful, old building in Winona that was gifted to the university from The Laird Norton Company, they were a huge lumber company that helped build Winona. About four years ago, they gifted the building to the university.

There are three pillars to this building, there’s a display, there’s education and there’s innovation. Plans call for a fabrication lab in the basement, along with gallery and classroom space on the first and second floors.

University staff says they look forward to using the Laird Norton Center as a means of better enhancing the art scene in the city of Winona.

Olson said, “Winona is becoming known as a real arts destination, we have the marine art museum, the Shakespeare Festival, the Beethoven Festival, and Frozen River Festival.”

“We’ll be able to support a lot more students coming here financially, and we’ll also be able to bring them world-class programming using this building and this gift of art,” said Boulay.

Mo’s gift will also fund sports scholarships for Winona State Athletics.

It’s all part of making Weber’s donation go a long way.

In Winona, David LaClair, First News at Nine.

Mo’s love for the arts comes, in part, from his father, Max Weber, a famed painter, regarded as one of the first American Cubist painters.

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