Originally posted June 26th, 2014 on Blogs at Gustavus
By Matt Thomas
The Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College has announced that the recently developed West Mall will now be known as the Annexstad Family Mall in recognition of Al and Cathy Annexstad for their years of support of the College through the Annexstad Family Foundation Scholarship Program.
Al Annexstad literally grew up on the Gustavus campus. His widowed mother, Alice, worked in the College’s Food Service to support her family. As a child, Al helped out in the kitchen and experienced the informal mentoring of college students and professors alike. Although he graduated from Mankato State College, Gustavus has remained close to his heart. In 2000, the Annexstad Family Foundation established its scholarship program for financially disadvantaged students who had been served by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Its first recipient enrolled at Gustavus and graduated in 2005. To date, twenty Annexstad Family Foundation scholarships have been awarded at Gustavus, including one in 2014. Thirteen have earned their degrees thus far.
In 2012, the Annexstad Family Foundation expanded upon its mission, partnering with a select group of America’s most distinguished colleges and universities—among them, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Michigan, Stanford, and Notre Dame. The foundation established the Leaders for Tomorrow National Scholarship program, which is intensely focused on helping build the nation’s next generation of leaders. Gustavus will join this prestigious group of institutions this fall when two Leaders for Tomorrow Scholars will be named.
Annexstad spent 48 years at Owatonna, Minn., based Federated Insurance Companies before his retirement in 2012. He steadily worked his way through the ranks of the company before becoming chairman, president and CEO. Federated experienced unprecedented growth under his leadership and transformed from a successful regional company into a prominent national insurance organization. Annexstad has been a member of the Gustavus Board of Trustees since 2001. He was accorded an honorary doctorate degree from Gustavus at commencement exercises in 2005. His alma mater, Minnesota State University, Mankato, presented him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001. More recently, both Al and Cathy received honorary doctorate degrees from MSU, Mankato. In 2010, he was named as a Horatio Alger Award Winner. Horatio Alger Award Winners are role models whose experiences exemplify that opportunities for a successful life are available to all individuals who are dedicated to the principles of integrity, hard work, perseverance, and compassion for others.
The Annexstad Family Mall extends west from Christ Chapel to the Linnaeus Arboretum. The Mall was conceptualized in 2012 with the completion of Beck Academic Hall and includes the Sesquicentennial Plaza. The Annexstad Family Mall will eventually feature a second plaza that will recognize donors to Campaign Gustavus.
“This is quite an honor for Cathy and me and our family,” Annexstad noted recently. “Gustavus has had a very special place in our hearts, in large part because my dear mother spent so much of her life here. This honor is magnified many times over by the success we see our Annexstad Scholars having at Gustavus as they continue on the path to productive and rewarding lives.”
A dedication ceremony for the Annexstad Family Mall was held on Thursday, June 26 in conjunction with the College’s summer Board of Trustees meeting.