A crowd of more than 50 people gathered on Winona State University’s campus on Monday, April 29, for the unveiling of the newly named “Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center.”
Dufresne, who passed away in 2015, was president of Winona State from 1967-78, and was president during the construction of seven buildings on campus, including the PAC.
The dedication event began with various speakers, and was followed by refreshments in the PAC lobby.
University President Scott Olson spoke on the impact DuFresne had on the university as a whole, and on himself.
“He was a friend and mentor to me, and he was also a hero to me,” Olson said. “It’s entirely fitting that we gather here to remember Bob DuFresne and everything he meant to this university, and at last recognize what he meant to us.”
DuFresne’s wife and son, Barbara and Jeff DuFresne, also shared comments at the event.
Barbara DuFresne spoke mostly about her husband’s time as president of the university, as well as his time with Winona State after his presidency.
Jeff DuFresne focused on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after his father, stating that he “was always a great supporter of the performing arts.”
The proposal for the name change, which had initially been brought up in December of 2017, was written by three former Winona State faculty members: Jim Reynolds, a retired sociology professor, Gary Evans, retired Vice President of University Advancement and George Bolon, a retired physics professor.
“This is a long overdue recognition, and entirely fitting honor,” Reynolds said. “This is a legacy that I think should be honored and celebrated.”
Bolon also spoke on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after DuFresne, not only for his love of the performing arts, but also because the PAC was the first building to be constructed during DuFresne’s tenure as university president.
Bolon concluded his speech with thoughts about DuFresne.
“We are all better persons for having known Robert A. DuFresne,” Bolon said.
Following the speeches, the building was dedicated with the unveiling of a new sign by Olson, Reynolds and Barb DuFresne.