Riverland seeks nominations for alumni award

Release Date: February 16, 2018

Categories: Riverland News Area Media Stories Foundation Media Release

Leaders in Government, Education, Health Care,
the Arts, Faith and Business Among 22 Previous Awardees

Nominations are opened this week for the 2018 Riverland Community College Distinguished Alumni Award which recognizes contributions Riverland alumni make and increases the pride all alumni, students, staff and faculty have for Riverland.

The award is bestowed on an individual who attended Riverland and has distinguished himself or herself. Since 1979, 22 Distinguished Alumni Awards have been conferred. (See list following this release.)

The awardees are sixteen males and six females. Six had careers in education, seven in business, three in health care, three in the law, two in the arts, and one in ministry. Seven awardees have been elected to public office at a local or regional level.

The most recent Distinguished Alumni, Alice Holst, attended Winona State College for one semester and then Austin Junior College in 1964-65 studying Liberal Arts.   She took individual classes from 1965-69 and earned an Associate in Arts degree in 1969.  Alice is a graduate of AIB School of Banking at University of Madison and Blandin Community Leadership.

She began working for First National Bank, now known as USBank, in 1965.

Alice rose through the ranks at USBank, starting as a mail girl and retiring 45 years later as the Austin branch president. Along the way she worked as a bookkeeper, teller, operations auditor, credit examiner, compliance and investigations auditor. She trained and managed colleagues in accounting, customer service, credit operations, credit integration and branch operations.

Her experience with bank mergers was invaluable during the 2003 merger of the Riverland Foundation and the Albert Lea Campus Foundation.  Alice lead by example on the Foundation board, serving as a catalyst to set up at least four named scholarships.

Nominees for the 2018 award will be evaluated on a significant contribution to the achievement of Riverland’s vision, established and/or strengthened Riverland’s community partnerships and contributed to a community in a significant way. The Distinguished Alumni recipient will be recognized at the Riverland Community College commencement exercises in May.

To be considered for the award, a nominee must have attended one of these schools:

  • Albert Lea Area Vocational Technical Institute
  • Albert Lea/Mankato Technical College
  • Albert Lea Technical College
  • Albert Lea Technical Institute
  • Austin Area Vocational School
  • Austin Community College
  • Austin Junior College
  • Austin State Junior College
  • Austin Technical College
  • Austin Technical Institute
  • Minnesota Riverland Technical College
  • Owatonna Extension Center - Austin State Junior College
  • Owatonna Higher Education Center
  • Owatonna College and University Center
  • Riverland Community College

Deadline to nominate is Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.  Late nominations will not be considered. Online nominations to http://www.riverland.edu/alumni are encouraged.

Riverland Community College, a member of the Minnesota State system, is a community college that inspires personal success through education. Approximately 9,000 students are served annually through a wide range of credit-based educational opportunities and non-credit courses. Campuses are located in Albert Lea, Austin and Owatonna, Minn. Riverland may be found on the Internet at www.riverland.edu.

Minnesota State, formerly known as Minnesota State Colleges and Universities includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 400,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system in the United States.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

The Distinguished Alumni Award program began in 1979 to honor distinguished alumni in recognition of their personal and professional achievements, contributions to the achievement of the college’s and/or foundation’s mission, community leadership that promotes partnerships with the college, and/or significant contributions to society or the community. Beginning 2004, the award is bestowed every even-numbered year.

Year Award


Position when awarded


James Mork

Judge, Minnesota District Court


LaVonne Painter



Colleen Ashton



Phyllis (Dankers) Yes

Artist & Educator


Stephen Wright



Tom Nelson

Senator, State of Minnesota


Mary Weber Keenan

County Commissioner, Mower County


Paul Goodnature



Charles Jahren

ACC Instructor


James Flannery

ACC President


Jerry Anfinson

Certified Public Accountant


Fred Robinson

Business Owner, Robinson Business Forms


Joe Matt

Minister, Crane Community Chapel


J. Douglas Myers

Superintendent, Austin Public Schools


Greg Meyer

Business Owner, State Farm Insurance


C. Jerry Nelson

Professor of Agronomy, University of Missouri -Columbia


Ardell Brede

Mayor of Rochester, Minnesota


J. Thomas Mott

Judge, Minnesota District Court


Scott Richardson



Donna Schumacher

PhD, RN, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota


John J. Gray, Jr.

Assistant Secretary-Treasurer of The Hormel Foundation


Alice Holst

Austin Branch President, US Bank