They were the “power couple” of turn of the century Minneapolis: William Hood Dunwoody, prominent banker and businessman, and his wife Kate Lane Dunwoody, savvy social progressive. Between them, they helped build many of the iconic institutions that enrich the Twin Cities region to this day: General Mills, Wells Fargo, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. One of their enduring gifts is the college that bears their name.
About 900 Dunwoody College alumni, students, staff and business supporters turned out for “For All Time” at the Minneapolis Hilton Saturday, Oct. 4, celebrating the centennial of Dunwoody College of Technology. The gala brought together alumni and friends of the college from across the nation who joined together to raise over $250,000 in scholarship funds.
Upon his death in 1914, William Dunwoody’s last will and testament included a $3 million bequest “to provide for all time a place where youth without distinction on account of race, color or religious prejudice, may learn the useful trades and crafts, and thereby fit themselves for the better performance of life’s duties. ” That gift, combined with Kate’s bequest of $1.6 million the following year, established Dunwoody Institute.
It was a radical idea at a time: to provide formal education through hands-on learning regardless of a person’s ethnic background or economic class. That bold vision was coupled with a practical curriculum of career-building skills. Initial coursework offered at Dunwoody included machine shop, cabinet making, millwork and printing; practical skills reflecting the technology and industries of the Twin Cities in the early 1900’s.
The experiment took off. Dunwoody today boasts over a quarter of a million alumni, who have taken their training in technical skills, integrity and work ethic to successful careers coast to coast and internationally.
Today the college provides a spectrum of leading edge technical training in the areas of, Applied Management, Automotive, Computer Technology, Construction Sciences & Building Technology, Design & Graphics Technology, Health Sciences & Technology and Robotics & Manufacturing.
Dunwoody’s commitment to its original mission still stands.It continues to provide the opportunity for people of all ages from a variety of backgrounds to get the training they need to get a good job on a great career path and so improve their lives and the communities they live in.
One of the keys to Dunwoody’s continuing success is flexibility to address changing needs. The college has recently launched four-year Bachelor of Science programs in industrial engineering technology, computer systems analyst, and architecture, continuing to help answer the national call for more Science, Technology, Engineering and Math graduates to meet the growing needs of industry.
At the same time, the college continues to work with industry leaders to provide technical training programs such as a 22-week sewing fabrication program, developed to both answer the need for “Made in USA” while providing marketable skills for people who are unemployed or in transition.
The formula works. Ninety-five percent of graduates are employed in their fields within six months of graduation, said Rich Wagner, Dunwoody president.
“Dunwoody sets a national example for providing quality education in the technical trades,” said Bruce Engelsma, KA Chairman and Dunwoody Board member since 1994. “Their practical approach continues to provide opportunities, build careers, and strengthen communities.”