During the Sesquicentennial the Brock Otto Hall of Champions exhibit located in the Taylor Center will have a series of rotating posters profiling notable Minnesota State University, Mankato individuals. Profiles currently on display include James Nickerson, Gilbert Trafton, Mary Willerscheidt, Don Brose and Maurice Nelson.
|Mankato State College President |
James F. Nickerson at his desk.
Nickerson brought the themes of change and innovation to the college. This included the abolition of the “F” grade for college students and the change of the Wilson Campus School (campus laboratory school) from a traditional K-12 school to non-traditional school focused on innovation and individualized learning. Memorial Library, Earley Center for the Performing Arts, Centennial Student Union, Morris Hall, and Trafton Science Center were all completed during Nickerson’s presidency.
His administration also led the beautification of the campus with the development of the campus mall and fountain area. Nickerson is best remembered for his leadership during the student anti-Vietnam war protests in 1970 and 1972. The anti-war activities led to rallies, student takeovers of Old Main, and the shutting down of Hwy 169. Throughout this time, President Nickerson worked to keep communication open with students and the community and continually worked toward peaceful resolutions. This time is documented in the book, Out of Chaos.
|Gilbert H. Trafton, 1916 Mankato |
State Normal School Annual
Gilbert H. Trafton joined the faculty of the Mankato State Normal School in 1911 after obtaining Masters Degrees from Wesleyan University and Columbia. Charles Cooper hired Trafton to teach nature study (later Biology) with an emphasis on vocational agriculture stating that Trafton would be a “valuable acquisition to the practical scientific workers of Minnesota.”
Trafton proved to be that and much more. His unique teaching methods included coming to class in garden cultivator outfits and carrying bee-hives and bird houses as experiential learning tools. He was also a prolific author writing 11 books and co-authoring 10 more with his content directed towards the general public and elementary students.
Because of Trafton’s contribution to the college and scientific community, Mankato State College renamed the new science center built on the Highland Campus in his honor in October of 1973. The Trafton Science Center currently houses various science, engineering and technology departments, classrooms and laboratory spaces.
|Mary Willerscheidt, Mankato |
State University, 1980s
Mary Willerscheidt served as the first Maverick women’s basketball coach from 1966 to 1985. In her 19 seasons, she accumulated a record of 246-158 and holds the record for all-time wins among Maverick women’s basketball coaches. Willerscheidt led her teams to conference championship titles in 1972, 1973 and 1975, and her recruits include All-American basketball players Elsie Ohm and Lisa Walters. Willerscheidt also coached track, cross country, and volleyball, and served as an assistant professor of Physical Education.
A 1961 graduate of St. Catherine’s, Willerscheidt earned a Masters from Mankato State College in 1966. She has served as president of the Minnesota Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (MAIAW) and chairperson for the Southwestern Board of Officials for the National Association of Girl’s and Women’s Sports.
|Don Brose, Mankato State College, 1965|
Don Brose guided the Maverick men’s hockey program from its early beginnings in 1969 to 2000. Over his 30-year career, Brose amassed a 536-335-79 record and led the program from its days as an independent program through NCAA Division III and NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I membership and affiliation with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. In 1980, Brose led the Mavericks to a NCAA Division II Title when they knocked off Elmira College by a score of 5 to 2.
Brose graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead in 1962 where he was a three-sport athlete, earning 12 varsity letters in hockey, baseball and football. He earned his Master’s degree in physical education from the University of Maryland in 1964. Brose joined the coaching staff and the Men’s Physical Education Department in 1965. With 536 wins, Brose ranks 14th all-time among all U.S. college hockey coaches.
Maurice J. Nelson, or “Maurice J.”, as he was fondly called by Industrial Arts students, joined the faculty of Mankato State Normal School in 1918 and remained a faculty member for 41 years until his retirement in 1959. While teaching, he continued to further his education, completing his Bachelor of Science degree in 1935 at the Stout Institute in Menomonie, Wisconsin, and his M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1937.
In 1925, recognizing the increasing number of male Mankato State Normal School students, then President Charles H. Cooper appointed Nelson to the newly created position of Dean of Men. Initially called the Industrial Arts Building, Mankato State College paid tribute to Nelson's dedication by renaming it Nelson Hall in his honor in 1968.
Nelson is credited with saving many Industrial Arts tools and equipment during the fire at Old Main on February 5, 1922 and chairing the first Homecoming Committee in 1928. Nelson died in April 1976.