Exterior of Maxwell Hall on WSU Main Campus.

Senior University


Senior University at WSU is a peer-led set of short courses taught by retirees and topic experts to provide intellectual and cultural stimulation and growth, thus providing today’s accomplished adult with opportunities for lifelong learning and leadership, combined with the fellowship of peers sharing a common quest for continued growth.

Senior University courses are open to everyone, and are meant to “encourage lifelong learning for retirees in the community.” You are welcome to join these classes whether you who have had college opportunities or not.

Each non-credit course is about four to five weeks long with no tests, papers or homework. The classes are currently $40 each.

Registration is required and subject to space availability. Early registration is recommended.

Spring 2021 Classes

Explore the upcoming Spring 2021 courses (PDF) for Senior University below and register for classes online today! 

A Brief History of Jazz: America's Music


Instructor: Rich MacDonald
Day: Monday
Time: 2:30-4pm
Sessions: Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22 & March 1
Course Fee: $40
Zoom link & password will be emailed after registration

This course will be designed to feature the important music and musicians of the many eras of jazz, beginning with Ragtime and Dixieland (1920's), the Swing Era (1930's), Be-Bop (1940's), Cool (1950's), Hard Bop (1960's), Avant-Garde (1950's to current), and Jazz/Rock Fusion (1970's to current). Participants are encouraged to use a laptop or desktop computer for the course as it will be useful to adjust audio settings in the advanced features of Zoom, which are not available on most phones or tablets. A majority of the musical examples will be delivered via YouTube. There will not be a text, but the instructor will recommend several sources and will welcome questions each meeting about readings or other source materials that participants wish to discuss.

Rich MacDonald performs a variety of musical settings, but considers himself primarily a jazz musician. At the heart of this music is improvisation, which has been a centerpiece of his musical and pedagogical endeavors for the past 50 years. He has taught Jazz History to WSU students for several years, and he always enjoys the interaction that it fosters – in particular, the social implications of its history from its rather inauspicious beginnings, through the Civil Rights Era, and to its place in our culture today.

Senior U Lite: Even More Zoom Tips & Tricks


Instructor: Ken Graetz
Day: Monday, Jan. 25, 2021
Time: 1-2pm
Course Fee: $10
Zoom link & password will be emailed after registration

This is our third Zoom Tips & Tricks course offering from Ken Graetz. In this course he will review some Zoom basics and offer additional tips and tricks to enhance your Zoom experience. Ken will ask participants what they would like to learn and will tailor the class to provide answers to their questions.

Ken Graetz is the Director of Teaching, Learning & Technology Department at Winona State University. He is a passionate administrator, educator, and research with 20+ years of experience in higher education.

Senior U Lite: Healthcare Directives

Instructors: Bob Williams & Leslie Scarborough
Day: Tuesday
Time: 1-2pm
Session: April 20, 2021

Course Fee: FREE
Zoom Link & password will be emailed after registration 

A properly executed Healthcare Directive lets you tell your family and your medical providers what medical care you want if a time comes when you cannot express those desires yourself. Bob Williams and Leslie Scarborough, trained facilitators and volunteers at Winona Health, will present information, discuss the Healthcare Directive form and be available at a later date for individual assistance in completing the form.

Bob Williams and Leslie Scarborough co-chair the Healthcare Directives facilitator team of volunteers at Winona Health.

What is Poetry?


Instructor: Emilio DeGrazia
Day: Tuesday
Time: 3-4:30pm
Sessions: Jan. 12, 19, 26 & Feb. 2, 9, 16

Course Fee: $40
Zoom link & password will be emailed after registration

While readership of poetry has increased nationwide in the past few years, so does confusion persist about what poetry is. In this class we will examine poetry types, its language structures, and its manifestos and cultural motives. Our discussions will range from ancient to bizarre modernist modes of expression. What the instructor hopes emerges from discussions is clarity about how language shapes our sense of what is entertaining, important and real.

Emilio DeGrazia, a long-time resident of Winona, Minnesota, began publishing poetry and prose in 1973, and founded Great River Review, the state's most enduring small press literary magazine, in 1977. In 2012, he was named to a two-year term as official Poet Laureate of Winona, MN and has earned several awards for his work.

Getting it Done: Writing Your Memoir and/or Family History

Instructor: Kathleen Peterson
Day: Wednesday
Time: 10:30am-Noon
Sessions: March 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28

Course Fee: $40
Zoom link & password will be emailed after registration

Kathleen Peterson believes every life holds many tales. As a novelist and playwright, her focus is character. Her approach will be to help participants craft their non-fiction memoirs or family histories with the finesse of fiction. The common thread between these two non-fiction categories is the expectation that the narrative is a truthful account from the perspective of the writer.

Kathleen Kenney Peterson is a local novelist and playwright. Her Irish-centric novel Girl on the Leeside was published in hardcover by Knopf/Doubleday in 2017 and the paperback version came out in 2018. Kathleen as a M.A. in English Literature and Language from Winona State University and has had three one-act plays and one full-length commissioned play produced in SE Minnesota, as well as her locally published novel Summer for the Taking.

Food Systems Sustainability

Instructor: Bruno Borsari
Day: Friday
Time: 2-4pm
Sessions: March 5, 12, 19, 26 & April 2, 9

Course Fee: $40
Zoom link & password will be emailed after registration 

This course is an introduction to food systems, their diversity, flaws, successes and limitations. Agroecology as a theory, social movement and practice will emerge from our study as the possible vehicle leading toward food systems sustainability. The components of farms' design and foods will be studied within the context of complexity. Integrating knowledge of biological and sociological systems into the development of sustainable food production strategies, which are innovative and ecologically sound is the keystone objective of this course.

Bruno Borsari would define himself as an agroecologist. He earned a doctorate in agricultural sciences from the University of Bologna, Italy and a Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans, LA. During his tenure at WSU he was granted twice a Fulbright Scholar award, which allowed him to teach and do research in agroecology in Panama.